Thanksgiving Preview | Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers
Matt and Zac Snyder of Bleacher Report and mittensportsreport.com break down this week's Detroit Lions football matchup.
When the Lions have the ball...
Detroit's passing attack vs. Green Bay's defensive backs
Zac says: Expect the suddenly potent Lions air attack to find itself grounded once again on Thursday. With Matthew Stafford unlikely to play and Calvin Johnson listed as questionable, last Sunday's numbers won't be duplicated. Daunte Culpepper will be asked to simply manage the game against a Packers defense that will be without cornerback Al Harris and outside linebacker Aaron Kampman. Pass selection may be limited to short and medium depth routes, especially if Calvin Johnson doesn't play. Advantage: Packers
Matt says: Matthew Stafford is listed as questionable on the injury report, and that doesn't bode well for the Lions. The last time the Lions played the Packers, Daunte Culpepper and Drew Stanton combined to complete only 44 percent of their passes with three interceptions and no touchdowns. Stafford showed true grit and guts in the win over Cleveland. He mixed up his receivers, completing 60 percent of his throws for an NFL rookie record five touchdowns. It would be a huge blow for the Lions if Stafford is unable to play. Advantage: Even
Detroit's running game vs. Green Bay's front seven
Zac says: Green Bay boasts a tough run defense that hasn't allowed a rusher to hit the 100-yard mark in any game since Steven Jackson in Week Three. Certainly an impressive stat considering they faced Adrian Peterson twice in that span. The Green Bay defense has been aided by their offense establishing early leads that force opponents to abandon the running game, a problem the Lions faced in Green Bay earlier this year. Advantage: Packers
Matt says: The Lions may not have run the ball well against Cleveland, but they were successful with the screen pass, which accomplishes the same end. A true ground game has eluded Detroit this season. The Lions will face a difficult matchup on the ground this week, the Packers rank fourth in the NFL against the run (yards/game). Advantage: Packers
When the Packers have the ball...
Green Bay's passing attack vs. Detroit's defensive backs
Zac says: Check last Sunday's box score against the hapless Browns and let me know if you think this warrants any discussion, I think its pretty self explanatory. Advantage: Packers
Matt says: Aaron Rodgers had a very nice day when these two teams met in October. He connected on 78 percent of his passes for 358 yards and two touchdowns. After watching the Lions give up four touchdown passes to Brady Quinn and the maligned Browns passing game, I expect to see Rodgers put up similar numbers on Thursday. Advantage: Packers
Green Bay's running game vs. Detroit's front seven
Zac says: Ryan Grant managed just 3.8 yards per carry in the first game against the Lions. The defense will have to limit Grant again to stay competitive in this one. If problems along the Packers' offensive line continue, then the Lions' defensive front may be able to find their way into the backfield and cause some trouble. It seems that for every moment of greatness on defense the Lions are able to allow two or three horrible plays. Advantage: Packers
Matt says: Detroit was average against the run last week, allowing 3.3 yards per carry to the Browns, but they'll need to do at least that to be successful against the Packers. The Green Bay passing game should put pressure on the defense which should allow running back Ryan Grant some room to run. He's not a particularly impressive runner, but he can more than get the job done. It will be up to the Lions' front to get a good push to stop Grant before he can get going. Advantage: Packers
Zac (8-2) says: Lions coach Jim Schwartz got an up close look at Thanksgiving football in Detroit last year as the defensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans. The Titans jumped out to a 35-10 half time lead and never looked back in posting the 47-10 victory. Schwartz may be able to use that experience to get a little something extra out of his guys. However, the injuries may be too severe with this being a short week to pull off one of those magical Thanksgiving upsets. Green Bay 31, Detroit 20
Matt (8-0) says: The Lions have seen only embarrassment lately in their rare national appearances, losing by double digits in the past five Thanksgiving games. They were able to get over the hump last week against Cleveland, and there's hope that this team is getting better, which they very well may be. The only problem for the Lions is that there is still a large gap between simply "better" and good. Green Bay 26, Detroit 17
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