Friday, December 07, 2012

Preview: Lions at Packers On Sunday Night

At first glance, this injury report looks bad. On the other hand, the Green Bay Packers are almost in the same situation they were when they last faced the Lions back on November 18.
Having RT T.J. Lang would be a big help, and it looks like he'll play. It's always a concern when LB Clay Matthews is out, but the defense put a lot of pressure on QB Matthew Stafford in their last meeting (5 sacks, 2 INTs, 1 fumble) without him. WR Jordy Nelson had a quiet day (3 catches for 45 yards) during their last meeting, and his loss is offset by the return of WR Greg Jennings. RB James Starks is replaced by RB Ryan Grant, which is arguably an upgrade. Losing DE Mike Neal and DE C.J. Wilson will stretch their depth, but I expect the Packers will spend most of the time in their two lineman, nickel package, so D-line depth won't be as important.

Though the Lions haven't won at Lambeau since QB Aaron Rodgers was in elementary school, I'm worried about this game. In their last meeting, the Lions turned the ball over four times and the Packers' offense only managed to score 17 points. While not much has changed on offense since that meeting (assuming Lang starts), 17 points is not enough if the Lions can avoid the turnovers.

However, the Lions' offense has since taken a step back. On November 18th, the Lions' second leading receiver was WR Ryan Broyles, who's now out for the year with an ACL injury, and their third leading receiver, WR Titus Young, is out for the year because he's a complete headcase. Though that's an addition by subtraction because Young was in open rebellion against the Lions and ended up helping the Packers more than hurting them. Still, the loss of Broyles, combined with the earlier loss of WR Nate Burleson, has to be a problem.

The Lions haven't scored under 20 points in their last six games, so assuming they don't commit four turnovers again, they should still manage around 24 points. The Packers, on the other hand, haven't scored over 24 points in their last three games, but they did have 31 points against a very good Cardinals defense back on November 4th. In that game, Rodgers threw for four touchdowns and he'll have to make plays like that again for them to win next Sunday.

Packers 31, Lions 24.

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