Detroit Lions-Green Bay Packers: Deja Vu All Over Again?
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It's all there. The Lions are missing their starting quarterback and possibly another star offensive weapon. The Packers are playing as if the only team that's going to beat them is themselves.
Remember when the Lions defensive line dominated, bringing Aaron Rodgers down five times, but he still carved up the secondary for 300+ yards and a couple of touchdowns?
Right, that was Week 6 of 2009. It sounds an awful lot like it could be Week 4 of 2010, too.
The difference is that this year, the role of Daunte Culpepper will be played by a 30-year-old white guy from Kansas, and the role of Calvin Johnson (who missed that game last year) could be played by Jahvid Best (currently missing practice with turf toe).
That game at Lambeau Field last year was one of the most difficult to watch I've ever had the pain of sitting through. Both teams were sloppy, unpolished, undisciplined, and just plain bad through the entire game.
Daunte Culpepper put on a despicable performance, going 6-for-14 for 48 yards and a pick, before pretending to pull a hamstring to save himself the embarrassment (you know it's true) and giving way to Drew Stanton's 5-for-11, for 57 yards and two picks. The result: zero total points.
The Packers were penalized 13 times for 130 yards, and really the effect was greater than that, because the opening kickoff was returned for a touchdown before getting called back.
The Packers turning out big plays and getting half of them called back would be a theme for that game, while the Lions' theme was one of utter futility.
It also didn't help that the service at Buffalo Wild Wings was atrocious. Like, the kind of bad service that's so bad, you specifically remember how bad it was a year later.
But I digress.
Here we are again with the Lions coming to Lambeau, missing Stafford, in desperate need of a win.
Here we are again with the Packers playing sloppy football, but still having enough talent to win regardless.
The Packers will need to rely on their passing attack to win. Again. That probably won't be a problem, with Aaron Rodgers likely to terrorize the Lions' secondary with another 300-yard passing game. Again.
The Lions will likely try to counter this by getting pressure on Aaron Rodgers, which they were able to do last year, and this is where one of the more interesting matchups takes place.
Last year, the Packers offensive line was porous, giving up a league-high 51 sacks. The Lions were able to notch five sacks against Aaron Rodgers in Week 6, but managed only 26 all season, giving them the 29th-rated pass rush in football.
This year? So far, a complete turnaround. The Lions have the third-most sacks in the NFL with 11, behind Green Bay and Philadelphia. The Packers have allowed only three all season, trailing only the Patriots, Chiefs, and Cowboys.
So which unit wins? The Lions' greatly improved defensive line, or the Packers' greatly improved (and healthy) offensive line?
Hopefully finding out the answer to that question this Sunday will make this year's Battle at Lambeau easier to swallow than the last.
Even if it doesn't, at least I won't be spending it at Buffalo Wild Wings.
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