Saturday, October 02, 2010

On Tap: Lions at Packers

The 0-3 Lions head into Green Bay to face the 2-1 Packers at Lambeau Field, a place they haven't won at since 1991. I remember watching the tail end of that game as Barry Sanders was given a carry or two before the game was over.

Even more amazing might be that I actually remember the first game of the current losing streak. Played sometime in late November/early December, Lambeau was covered in snow, and Green Bay managed to go up 28-0 or 35-0. I don't remember the exact score, other than Green Bay having more points. What I do remember is watching Rodney Peete getting pulled early as Wayne Fontes apparently gave up on the game (and the season), and the team got a look at Andre Ware for the remainder of the year.

If the Lions lose tomorrow, the streak goes to 20 games. Chances are, they will. The Lions losing will maintain three unfavorable streaks: a losing streak of 8 games, a road losing streak of 21 games (3 away from tying the old record set back in 2003 by guess who - the Lions), and the 20 games at Lambeau.

Green Bay, despite their loss to the Bears, and the Bears' current record, is the strongest team in the NFC North. I still think the division is the Packers' to lose at this point. So is this game.

Aaron Rodgers will probably emerge this season as one of the Top 5 QBs in the game. Green Bay is otherwise, one of the teams who are pretty strong everywhere - except the O-Line. I expect this to change in the coming years as their 1st Round pick - Brian Bulaga emerges as a solid left tackle, and they use the draft to replace aging interior O-lineman.

Detroit is still without QB Matthew Stafford, who continues to recover from a shoulder injury suffered in Week 1 just before halftime against the Bears. It remains possible he will play the following week at home against the St. Louis Rams, but the Lions ought to put the future of the team and their franchise QB ahead of winning a single game, lest they risk losing Stafford for the entire year.

At this point, I've seen enough of Shaun Hill to realize he's a permanent backup, and on a more capable team like New England or Indianapolis. If Stafford is ready to return in Week 8, a week after the Bye, I don't see why the Lions don't give Drew Stanton one more shot and play him against the Rams or Giants.

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As far as the game goes, for Detroit to win, once again it will come down to what the front 4 on the D-line can do. The Green Bay O-line is probably the weakest in the division, and that may put pressure on Rodgers, who is otherwise mobile and has a good arm. RB Ryan Grant is lost for the year, so that leaves it up to the receiving corps with WRs Donald Driver, Greg Jennings (Western Michigan), and TE Jermichael Finley to attack the Lions' weak secondary.

The Lions' offense will have their hands full as Green Bay is loaded on defense with B.J. Raji at DT, Nick Barnett as OLB, and Charles Woodson (Michigan) in the secondary. There's an old adage, 75% of the Earth is covered in water. The rest is covered by Charles Woodson.

The Packers will give the Lions' offense fits, especially since the only viable weapon the Lions have at WR is Calvin Johnson (Nate Burleson is out with a sprained ankle). The Lions have seen production out of their TEs, Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler. RB Kevin Smith is back and will split time with the probably Offensive Rookie of the Year, Jahvid Best.

Final Score:
Detroit 21
Green Bay 31

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