Remember how we discussed how the Bengals aren’t a laughing stock anymore? Take everything we said then, copy it, then paste it into this article. These are not the hapless Lions. These are Lions worth fearing.
Just five years removed from an 0-16 season, the NFC North-leading Lions are formidable on both offense and defense. They have enough firepower to go toe to toe with Aaron Rodgers and Company, and barring an offensive explosion, they can bank on a good performance from their defense to at least keep them close. This will be no extra bye week.
The Packers, of course, desperately need a win. They have an unfortunate amount of experience starting 1-2, having done it last year, and the schedule doesn’t necessarily get easier from here. Starting with this Sunday’s game, the Packers have six tough divisional games to go, not to mention their tough non-divisional opponents. Every win will come at a premium from here on out.
5(.3) – I’m cheating on this a little bit, but Reggie Bush has averaged 5.3 yards per carry so far this season, totaling 254 yards on 48 carries so far. Bush also has 11 catches for 179 yards, and has basically been everything the Lions could have hoped for this season. The former Heisman Trophy winner* (asterisked because people decided that his getting paid for being an awesome football player was a bad idea for some reason) is a versatile threat and will be a big challenge for the Packers defense this week.
4 – Receiving touchdowns by King of the Nicknames Calvin “Megatron” Johnson. As dangerous as Reggie Bush is, Johnson is the Lions’ biggest threat by far. Johnson could swing this game single handedly, and given how much trouble the Packers have had slowing down opposing passing offenses, he might get a chance to do just that.
3 – Sacks by Packers’ defensive backs this year. Green Bay has struggled to generate a pass rush this year outside of Clay Matthews (boy, if only we’d never said that before), but Dom Capers has had some success bringing pressure from defensive backs. Tramon Williams, M.D. Jennings, and Davon House have each snagged sacks, and hopefully that trend continues this week, although it would be nice to get some pressure from guys actually paid for, you know, rushing the quarterback.
2 – Green Bay Packers to snag an interception this year (Sam Shields and Mike Neal). In addition to their frustrating pass rush, the Packers haven’t done much in the way of forcing turnovers. That changed a little bit in the Cincinnati game, but it’s still below the standards we’d expect from a Dom Capers defense. Matthew Stafford has been known to throw a pick or two, and taking advantage of those turnover tendencies could be the Packers’ key to victory.
1 – Wins by the Packers this year. Yep, I’m going to go ahead and rub salt in that wound. We’re in Week 5 and the Packers have one lousy win. They’ve been ahead in every game so far, but you know what they say about moral victories. (If you don’t know what they say, they say that moral victories are for chumps. They are a good source. They tell me things.) If the Packers really are a playoff team, they have to start closing out tight games, and they could get a chance to do that this week.
Last Time – Packers: 27 Lions: 20 – December 9, 2012
After falling behind early, the Packers got a breakout performance from DuJuan Harris (31 yards and a touchdown on seven carries), a long touchdown run from Aaron Rodgers, and a game changing fumble return by Mike Daniels as the Packers wrapped up a key divisional game.
Meet a Lion – Nick Fairley – 6’4″, 298 lbs. – DT – 3rd NFL Season
Between Ndamukong Suh and Fairley, the Lions have probably the scariest defensive tackle combo in the league, and I don’t mean scary like “scary good.” I mean scary like “they might actually try to bite your face off if you give them a chance.” Suh and Fairley have well-deserved reputations as cheap shot artists, but that only distracts from how disruptive they can be. They’ll be a handful on Sunday, and with Suh grabbing the headlines, Fairley might be the one who reaps the benefits.
The Lions will win if…
…their defensive line can bother Aaron Rodgers into a bad day. Wayne Larrivee wrote this week about just how good Rodgers has to be for the Packers to win. The quickest way for the Lions to make him less than master class is to get pressure on him, and lots of it. They have the players to get it done. Can they do it?
The Packers will win if…
…they can control the Lions’ explosive offense. As dangerous as their defensive line is, I’m more worried about how the Packers will slow down Stafford, Johnson, and Bush. This game could be in the high 40’s if both offenses are rolling, and the Packers’ defense might not be enough to give them a chance to keep it close.
The Pick: Lions: 28 Packers: 27
I don’t have faith in the Packers’ defense. I don’t have faith in their offensive line. Aaron Rodgers will be better than he was against Cincinnati, but the Packers have too many holes to get it done against Detroit.
Wait, what am I thinking? The Packers are coming off a bye. They’re healthier. Rodgers is determined to have a better game. Let’s try again.
Packers: 31 Lions: 28
That looks better.
The Rest (home team in ALL CAPS)
BROWNS over Bills
Patriots over BENGALS
COLTS over Seahawks
DOLPHINS over Ravens
Saints over BEARS
GIANTS over Eagles
Chiefs over TITANS
RAMS over Jaguars
Panthers over CARDINALS
Broncos over COWBOYS
49ERS over Texans
Chargers over RAIDERS
FALCONS over Jets
Last Week: 11-4
Season Total: 32-23
Tweet of the Week
Johnny Jolly takes us back to where it all began.