Green Bay Packers: 5 Players Who Need to Play Well Against Detroit
The Green Bay Packers are back on top of the NFC North after a wild week in the NFL. The Packers were able to win against the Minnesota Vikings 23-14 despite Adrian Peterson running for more than 200 yards. The Chicago Bears lost in overtime 23-17 after a wild series of events at the end of the game.
With the Vikings losing to the Packers and the Lions losing to the Colts, it has become a two-team race in the NFC North. If the Packers want to win the division, they will need to finish the season strong.
The Packers' next test on the road to a division title will be the Detroit Lions on Sunday night. If they expect to win, there are several players who will need to play well.
Morgan Burnett had a huge game against the Vikings, picking off Christian Ponder twice. Burnett will need to play at that same level on Sunday.
Matthew Stafford loves to throw it deep, and his favorite target is Calvin Johnson. Johnson's height and hands make him a serious threat to any defense.
If the Packers want to contain Johnson, Burnett will need to play well. He will need to make sure that Johnson never gets behind him, or it could spell trouble for the Packers.
Burnett has played well this year, with 62 tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and two interceptions. He has shown signs of improvement this year and has made fewer mistakes.
Burnett will be a major part of this defense on Sunday, and he should hopefully be able to contain Johnson.
After being injured for the start of the season, James Starks has come back and played well. With the absence of Cedric Benson, the Packers have asked both Starks and Alex Green to step up.
The Packers' running game has shown signs of improvement over the past few weeks, and that has been a good sign for the the offense. They were able to rush for 152 yards last week against the Vikings, one of the highest marks for them this year.
While Green is also important for the running game, Starks will be more vital in this game. While Green is more of a power back, Starks is quicker and able to break out bigger runs. The Lions have a frightening defensive line but no one behind them who is particularly good at stopping the run. With Starks, he is able to quickly get past the front four, giving him more opportunities to break out big runs.
If Starks can have a big day, that will give Aaron Rodgers more time in the pocket during play-action plays. If this can happen, the Packers should be in good shape.
Casey Hayward is having an exceptional rookie year and will need to continue having one in order to keep the Lions' passing game in check.
Hayward currently boasts 41 tackles and five interceptions on the year. His performance this year has put him in the running for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
Hayward will be asked to cover some good wide receivers, and even Calvin Johnson at times. With their ability to break away, Hayward will need to play smart and contain them.
The Packers held Stafford mostly in check earlier this year, but they will need to do even better this week. Johnson is on a hot streak and is catching almost everything that comes his way. Hayward will be a big factor in whether or not Stafford has a good game.
There is no player more versatile and explosive on the Packers than Randall Cobb. His speed makes him a threat returning, receiving and even running.
With Nelson potentially missing the game Sunday, Cobb will need to step up to make up for his absence (via ESPN).
Cobb has had a breakout year with 64 receptions for 675 yards and seven touchdowns. He has become a major piece to the passing game and was able to step up during the absence of Greg Jennings.
The Lions will be keeping a close eye on Cobb after his game-winning touchdown against them last time. Cobb will need to work that much harder to get open this week if he wants to make a major impact on the game.
Aaron Rodgers is having yet another great season and is making a strong case to be the league's MVP yet again.
Rodgers' stats may not be as good as last year's, but they are still quite impressive. He has thrown for 3,124 yards and 29 touchdowns with only eight interceptions. His completion percentage is at 67 percent, and his passer rating is an incredible 105.
The Lions have a weak secondary that has allowed 21 touchdowns already this year. Rodgers will look to exploit the defense this week with the return of Greg Jennings.
Rodgers will need to be careful of the pass rush, however. With Green Bay's weak offensive line, the Lions could be getting to Rodgers a lot quicker than he would like.
If Rodgers can stay alert and take some shots downfield, the game should go down as a win for the Packers.