Lions vs. Packers: Keys to NFC North Battle at Lambeau Field

Ryan RudnanskySenior Writer IOctober 5, 2013

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 22:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers runs with the ball during the NFL game against Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on September 22, 2013 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The sizzling Detroit Lions are coming off a big win at home against the Chicago Bears, but now they must face the always-dangerous Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.

The Packers are 1-2 this season, but both of their losses were by six points or fewer. That includes a 34-30 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3. After their bye in Week 4, you can bet they are ready to defend home field against the Lions.

Green Bay has won 21 of 24 matchups between the two teams since 2001. The Lions last defeated the Packers in December 2010.

Let's take a look at the keys to the NFC North clash on Sunday.


Pressure the Quarterback

Sep 22, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA;  Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) at the line of scrimmage against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

This is nothing new in the game of football, but when you have top-notch passers like Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford, you better pressure them or they are going to burn you.

In the 34-30 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3, Rodgers was sacked four times and was hit eight times. He ended up going 26-of-43 for 244 yards (5.7 yards per pass attempt) while tossing one touchdown and two interceptions. 

Detroit made Jay Cutler look mighty uncomfortable last week, totaling three sacks and six quarterback hits. He went 27-of-47 for 317 yards (6.7 yards per pass attempt) while tossing two touchdowns and three interceptions. He also fumbled after Ndamukong Suh sacked him late in the third quarter, which led to Nick Fairley's return for a touchdown.

On the flip side, Green Bay has totaled just seven sacks this season (tied for 27th in the NFL) while allowing 8.5 yards per pass attempt (30th). The Packers may be playing at home, but that won't mean much if they can't get pressure on Stafford. Stafford is having a solid season so far, ranked seventh in yards per pass attempt and eighth in quarterback rating.


Running Games

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 29:  Reggie Bush #21 of the Detroit Lions looks for an opening in the Chicago Bears' defense at Ford Field on September 29, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

You don't usually associate the Packers or the Lions with having a dangerous running game, but things have changed lately.

The Packers rank second in the NFL in yards per carry, while Reggie Bush torched the Chicago Bears for 139 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries last week.

Green Bay has been much better against the run than the Lions this season. The Packers rank ninth in yards allowed per carry, while the Lions rank 29th. That being said, Chicago held Adrian Peterson to 3.8 yards per carry in Week 2, then watched as Bush exploded in Week 4. Bush showed last week that he can sneak up on you.


Get On the Board Early

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 29:  Reggie Bush #21 and Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions celebrate a touchdown against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field on September 29, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

This is especially important for the Lions at Lambeau Field. 

The Packers have won their last nine games at home. They also rank third in the NFL in first-half points per game (18.0). The Lions rank first in the category (18.5), but it's going to be much more difficult to rack up the points on Green Bay's home turf.

The Lions need to come out ready to buzz around Rodgers. If they allow him to sit in the pocket, he has the ability to put them in a hole early.

Of course, if they do pressure Rodgers, he could struggle.

ESPN Stats & Info noted:



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