Lambeau, Snow, Prime Time: Pack Will Make it 22 Straight over Toothless KittiesPosted:Dec 7th, 2012 4:29 pm
The last time the Detroit Lions won a game in Wisconsin, most of us had never heard of Brett Favre. It was 1991: Persian Gulf War, Rodney King beating, Magic announced he was HIV positive, Jay Leno succeeded Johnny Carson as host of the Tonight Show and Wisconsin's own Jeffrey Dahmer was arrested.
Not a great year, to be sure. The Packers' coach-QB combo was Lindy Infante and Mike Tomczak. Since then the Pack has won 21 straight against the Lions, the longest home domination in NFL history. The Packers gave them a shot last year in the season finale when they rested Rodgers, Woodson and Matthews but the Kitties still couldn't break through, losing a 45-41 shootout to Matt Flynn and company.
And so the series that dates back to 1930 resumes Sunday night at Lambeau (something tells me the NBC bosses wish they had flexed to Ravens-Redskins), where significant snow is in the forecast and the Packers will look to rung up their 19th regular season win in their last 20 games at home.
The two teams are moving in opposite directions, the Pack having won six of their last seven and the Lions losers of four straight--including the last three at home. Detroit is a mess. Offensively they're still dangerous: tops in the league in passing yardage and Calvin Johnson is having a historically great season. The Lions have lost WRs 2-4 on the depth chart though: Nate Burleson and Ryan Broyles to injuries and Titus Young to insubordination. The Pack will have to handle the two tight ends because both are popular targets these days.
You would think the Lions would try to move the ball on the ground Sunday night, especially if the weather conditions are a factor. In Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell they have two effective, if not electrifying runners who remind no one of Adrian Peterson. But with Clay Matthews and CJ Wilson still sidelined with injuries, the Pack's run defense is a little leaky. We'll see if Scott Linehan changes his MO and calls a decent amount of run plays. If the Pack jumps on top early, he'll likely keep the ball in Stafford's hands.
Offensively, the Packers will once again deal with a short deck. Jordy Nelson will likely sit this one out with a hamstring, meaning Greg Jennings will step into his role as an outside receiver. The offensive line will be reshuffled with TJ Lang's ankle injury, meaning young tackle Don Barclay will make his first start, after filling in very nicely last Sunday when Lang went down. Alex Green will get the majority of the carries in James Starks' absence--I'd be surprised if Ryan Grant made more than a cameo appearance after joining the team from the street in the middle of the week. DuJuan Harris may also get a little action.
When you play the Lions, your main homework assignment is making sure the front four is neutralized. Ndamukong Suh has been coming on and continues to accumulate cheap plays and add to his resume and the league's dirtiest player. But he will provide a stiff test for the interior of the line to handle, as will Nick Fairley and Cliff Avril. Give Rodgers time and he will find open receivers against a below average secondary. Detroit has surrendered 668 yards passing the past two weeks to Schaub and Luck. Rodgers is licking his chops.
With snow in the forecast and the Packers realizing the #2 seed in the NFC is in their sights if they win out, it's hard to believe the Pack will lay an egg against their favorite whipping boys, who at 4-8 are out of the playoffs and are coming off a last play home loss to Andrew Luck and the Colts.
But most of the Lions' losses have been close and the last three home losses were all lost in the last two minutes and you have to believe they'll play hard for a prime time audience. Couple that with the fact that the Pack are at least a week away from getting Matthews and Woodson back and the Lions may just hang around for a while.
But ultimately the Packers will take care of business and make it 11 straight wins in the North with all eyes focused on next week's showdown in Chicago.
Packers 31 Lions 21