Lions vs. Packers: Detroit Must Pressure Aaron Rodgers to Upset Green Bay

Ian Hanford@Ian_HanfordFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2012

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 2: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers looks to pass the ball while under pressure from Jared Allen #69 of the Minnesota Vikings during the first half of the game at Lambeau Field on December 2, 2012 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Detroit Lions must pressure Aaron Rodgers in Sunday night's game if they want to have a prayer at upsetting the Green Bay Packers.

It's that simple.

The Lions have 27 sacks as a team this season, led by Cliff Avril's 8.5. Green Bay has allowed 39 sacks, consistently disallowing Rodgers from sitting comfortably in the pocket and observing the defense in front of him.

When these two teams met in Week 11, the Lions had three sacks. They lost the game 24-20, but they were able minimize Rodgers' big plays by getting to him in the backfield.

According to Detroit Free Press reporter Dave Birkett, several key Lions defensive backs are listed as questionable for Sunday night's game, including Louis Delmas, Chris Houston and Jacob Lacey.

Delmas is arguably the best player in Detroit's secondary. Houston and Lacey are both starting corners, and without them, Drayton Florence would have to play a major role.

Maybe these players do play, and this is a moot point, but pressure will be a big deal either way. Rodgers can pick apart any secondary if he's allowed to sit in the pocket and look down the field.

It's not as simple as running full bore at Rodgers, either. He's notorious for using his feet to evade the rush, get on the edge and frustrate a defense even more by making a big play. His athleticism forces defense to calculate every move, even something like a simple blitz.

Detroit has a number of capable pass-rushers, but the group must be more consistent. Avril has had a great season, but he's going to need help from Ndamukong Suh, Kyle Vanden Bosch and Nick Fairley (also questionable, according to Birkett).

Without pressure, the Lions may as well forget about this one. An upset isn't inconceivable, but without pressuring Rodgers, it's hard to tell how many points the Packers will put up. Detroit has the weapons to keep up, but not as many as Green Bay has at its disposal.

The Lions' game plan between Week 11 and Sunday night should be similar, but making adjustments to create a more steady flow of disruptions would be ideal.