Packers XLV

Defense Will Dominate and Help Defeat Detroit...Definitely.

Posted December 26th, 2014 @ 04:12pm

This is how it's supposed to end. Well, actually, if the script were perfect, a win over the Lions on Sunday would not only clinch a fourth straight NFC North title as well as home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. A funny thing happened in Buffalo to take that out of the equation.

Nevertheless, Sunday's showdown at Lambeau has huge implications: win and rest before you host a divisional round game; lose and you head to Dallas for a likely Saturday night game in the house that Jerry built.

We all know the history here: the Packers have beaten them 24 straight times in Wisconsin, the longest active streak of home dominance in the NFL and their 7-0 record at home this year have mostly featured blowouts.

But you can throw most of that out as we analyze this matchup: Detroit boasts the kind of defense that has given the Pack fits all season: one that can rush the passer with their front four, giving them enough personnel on the back end to deal with Green Bay's prolific passing attack. And they've been incredibly stingy against the run, giving up just 52 yards per game since Halloween.

The Packers tried to run the ball time and time again in the first matchup, without much success. An early turnover put them on their heels and they were playing catch up the rest of the way. If it's not working on Sunday, expect Mike McCarthy to turn to the screen game--it can act like a running game and allow Aaron Rodgers to dump the ball off quickly, especially if the Lions' fierce from four is winning most of its matchups.

I see the Pack using some of the plays they showed in the New England game (and maybe some they've been holding back): Randall Cobb will be moved all over the field, lining up in the backfield, going in motion, doing things to keep the Lions honest. The Packers' offense obviously will revolve around the health of Rodgers' calf. I doubt he'll use his dangerous legs in this one. He's more likely to want to be able to inflict damage from the pocket most of the time, get a win, and then get that calf healthy so he's 100% in two weeks when the playoffs begin.

Where the Packers should dominate is when the defense is on the field. These Lions have been nowhere near as explosive as in seasons past and will likely like to ride the legs of Joique Bell and Reggie Bush, if they had their druthers. They've been very average all season,  and have relied on late comebacks against average teams in recent weeks.

Green Bay's defense has improved dramatically lately and is healthy and ready to feed off of the Lambeau atmosphere. For some reason, the organization felt it necessary to dump a "Get Loud Lambeau" theme into our laps this week--a very Viking-like gesture. Granted, Lambeau is not the loudest home field in the world (thanks in large part to the AARP members who have been going to games since the 60s). The D has been terrific of late (outside of that second half against the Falcons when they let up with a big lead).

The Lions have big problems on the offensive line, beginning with the suspension to center and perennial loser Dominic Raiola. While his 14th year has been a drop off for him, he is still the unquestioned leader of the line, a guy who never misses a snap and call all the protections for his line mates. With him out, rookie Travis Swanson makes his first start under center. On top of that, they lost right tackle LaAdrian Waddle to injury a couple weeks ago. Rookie free agent Cornelius Lucas takes his place. Expect Julius Peppers to dominate that matchup (he beat him a couple of times in the first matchup when Lucas was playing guard).

The Lions haven't gotten much out of the tight end position this season, so look for the Pack to concentrate on Megatron and Golden Tate--they're about as dominant to their offense as Nelson and Cobb are to the Pack. Even without Davon House (who matches up nicely with Johnson), the Pack should be able to contain them, especially since Matthew Stafford will likely be harassed most of the afternoon.

Special teams is a wash, as far as I'm concerned. The game will likely turn on turnovers: something the Pack has feasted on at home this season. I see the defense coming up big and being the story when this one is over. Rodgers will be efficient and methodical, but won't put up huge numbers.

In the end, the streak reaches 25 and the Packers earn a much needed bye.

Packers 23  Lions 13

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Comments (6):

You make an excellent point, Voice. For much of this season the Offensive Line has been excellent. I hope this excellence continues so that they can protect Aaron Rodgers from the fearsome front of the Lions and open up some holes for Eddie and James. Go Pack, beat those Lions in Wisconsin again!

on December 26th, 2014 at 09:33pm

With one or two exceptions, for consistently not having a draft pick to get those plum O-line guys everyone covets, and having to deal with various injuries along the way, the Packers have put together a quality offensive line this year - one that doesn't get enough credit for what they do. They started off a little rough, but have really come along over the last half of the season. I'm hoping they can leave their TV's they got from #12 in their shipping boxes until mid February.

on December 26th, 2014 at 11:36am

(edit...part of the first line should read: " for consistently not having a *high* draft pick ...")

on December 26th, 2014 at 11:39am

Before we put the Lions defense into the category of the '85 Bears or 200o Ravens, let's take a look at how their schedule this year has worked out for them. They've played 11 games against offenses ranked in the middle to lower half of the league. Eight of those games have been in Ford Field. Even the Packers have looked elite on defense the past two weeks against offensively-challenged clubs Buffalo and Tampa Bay. The game Detroit played this season most comparable to tomorrow's at Lambeau was their visit to New England. And they got bombed 34-9, giving up 439 yards. The Lions are averaging only 11.8 ppg on the road this season, so yes the Packers defense should be able to contain them. On the offensive side as long as Aaron Rodgers, Eddie Lacy, Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and the starting o-line are on the field, as long as the receivers don't have "dropsy" they should be able to control the ball and put points on the board and they are averaging over 41 ppg at home this season. To win the division and avenge their flat performance at Detroit earlier this season I think the Pack puts on a dominating performance Sunday.

on December 27th, 2014 at 07:44am

I believe in the NFL a solid defensive line usually beats a solid offensive line. The teams this Packer team has trouble with are the teams that rush four and mainly cover with the rest.Nuetralize this Lion Four as much as you can. If Rodgers has his mobility and the calf is healed he will need to do some throwing out of the pocket and the running game will need to contribute big time. Some other keys....1- Take advantage of our big play when there (no dropsies) 2- Pick Stafford...he will give you a chance ( again no dropsies) 3- Dont let Marshan Lynch lite hurt us..Joquon Bell. 4- Aaron Rodgers should determine the outcome.. GO PACK GO !!

on December 27th, 2014 at 09:46am

here is the Big one. you guys all make good points. it seems to me when it gets colder, the pass rush slows down for all teams and can't get as good of traction on the grass. I don' think either team will be able to run the ball. what ever Ol plays the best wins, I disagree with OSSG on lines. look at dallas this year, with my man Frederick in the middle for the boys. sure am glad they drafted Linsley now. he looks great. i think we have to pass 1st and run later if you can.I see it 24-10 late and lions score late to make it 24-17,Pack, come on Pack we need this.

on December 27th, 2014 at 11:28am

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