Jeff Hanisch- US PRESSWIRE
The Green Bay Packers are coming off a bye week with a record of 6-3 and will face the 4-5 Detroit Lions in a key divisional match-up. The Packers have plenty of momentum on their side winning their last four games, while the Lions are coming off a disappoint loss against the Minnesota Vikings.
The bye week was much needed for the Packers who are banged up on both sides of the ball. However, even after the bye and head coach Mike McCarthy giving the team the entire week off, the Packers are still going to have some injury problems heading into the game with the Lions.
The biggest development for the Packers this week is star linebacker Clay Matthews will not be able to play this week after suffering a hamstring injury two weeks ago. Matthews will now be added to the list of injured players along with Charles Woodson, Bryan Bulga, Nick Perry, Greg Jennings and Sam Shields.
Even with all the injuries the Packers are still favorites to win the game which should be no surprise to anyone. Aaron Rodgers is playing at an MVP level this season and has been able to orchestrate this Green Bay offense no matter who the personnel is and is getting more confidence with each week.
“We’ve had some adversity early in the season. We’ve come together, we’ve taken some heat and it’s brought us closer together,” Rodgers said. “We’ve got a lot of guys who, if we can have back in the mix, we can really take off.”
As for the Lions, they have had a disappointing season so far with both wide receiver Calvin Johnson and quarterback Matthew Stafford struggling to have seasons like they did in 2011. Johnson is coming off a 200 yard receiving game last week but has failed to produce much outside of that game. In a more surprising twist, it’s the Lions defense that has actually played well this season. They are ranked 10th overall in the league and are seventh in passing yards allowed.
However, the Lions did just allowed 171 rushing yards last week against the Vikings Adrian Peterson and the Vikings had their highest point total last week. So while the Lions defense is improving this season there are still some inconsistencies that the team has.
The Packers need to take advantage of the Lions poor run defense of the Lions which is ranked 17th in stopping the run. Against the Arizona Cardinals two weeks ago, the Packers had their best rushing performance of the season, running for 171 yards which is the most rushing yards Green Bay has had since 2009. If the Packers can establish the run and keep the powerful defensive line of Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh on their toes and help the Packers’ offensive line protect Rodgers better.
Another benefit of establishing the run for the Packers is that the Lions secondary is banged up and will possibly have two backups playing at safety this weekend. Rodgers should be able to pick apart the secondary and with a good run game going for them, it will freeze the safeties long enough for big plays down the field.
The Packers are 11-1 under coach McCarthy against the Lions and are one game behind the Chicago Bears for the lead of the NFC North and are expected to have Jordy Nelson return to the lineup from an ankle injury. The Lions are currently a game and a half behind the final wild-card spot and have five of their last seven games at home.
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