Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers: Preview and Prediction
Heading into the season many thought that this Week 14 game would have significant playoff implications for both teams, but that’s not that case.
At 4-8 the Lions find themselves near the bottom of the NFC, while the 8-4 Packers are fighting for not only the NFC North title, but a first-round bye as well.
The first time these teams met was in Week 11 at Ford Field, a game the Packers won 24-20. Neither quarterback was dominant, as they combined for three touchdown passes, three interceptions and just over 500 yards passing.
With Titus Young and Ryan Broyles out for the season, look for Stafford to target Calvin Johnson even more than usual on Sunday. The Lions signed Kris Durham and Lance Long, but neither wide receiver has much NFL experience.
Running back Mikel Leshoure will likely get the bulk of the carries in the run game, while Joique Bell will have a decent amount of receiving yards.
The Packers haven’t put up the same impressive stats in terms of passing yards. However, Aaron Rodgers has been effective throughout the season, despite the absence of some key offensive weapons like Greg Jennings and Cedric Benson.
The biggest change to Green Bay’s roster this week was at the running back position. Veteran Ryan Grant was brought back into the mix after James Starks sustained a knee injury that will keep him sidelined for a number of weeks.
Grant spent five seasons with the Packers between 2007 and 2011 and has rushed for 4,021 yards and 25 touchdowns in 64 career games. Grant, who turns 30 on Sunday, will likely share the load with Alex Green.
The important factor on special teams will be field goals and it could be wet and windy Sunday. Mason Crosby is having a tough season, having hit only 62.5 percent of his field-goal attempts. Meanwhile, Jason Hanson has plenty of experience at Lambeau and has performed well this season for the Lions.
On defense the key for both the Lions and Packers will be disrupting the other team's quarterback.
Detroit’s only win against Aaron Rodgers came in 2010 when the quarterback was knocked out of the game with a concussion.
Rodgers has been sacked a league-high 39 times this season. The Lions will look to Cliff Avril, Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley (if healthy) to add to that number on Sunday. Those three players have combined for the majority of Detroit’s 27 sacks this year.
Green Bay’s pass rush has accounted for the fourth-most sacks in the league with 34. If it can force Stafford out of the pocket it should give rookie Casey Hayward and Tramon Williams some interception opportunities.
The Lions and Packers are dealing with a number of injuries that could benefit the opposition’s offense.
Cornerbacks Chris Houston, Jacob Lacey and safety Louis Delmas were all limited in practice Thursday, while Nick Fairley and Corey Williams did not participate for the Lions.
Clay Matthews did not participate in Green Bay’s practice and Charles Woodson was limited. It doesn’t appear that either player is likely to return this week. Sam Shields, on the other hand, was a full participant in practice Thursday and told ESPN Milwaukee he will play Sunday.
The Lions haven’t won in Green Bay in 20 years, although they came close last season. Stafford had 520 passing yards and five touchdown passes. Megatron accounted for 244 receiving yards and a touchdown catch. With Matt Flynn at the helm and Rodgers on the sideline, however, the Packers beat the Lions by a score of 45-41.
Stafford and Megatron will make this a close game as well, but the Packers will prevail.
Packers 34, Lions 27
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