Everything points to a Packers victory this weekend, and it has me nervous. The Lions haven’t won a game in Lambeau Field since before I stopped believing I could grow up to be Batman (1991). The Packers are 8 point favorites. They are coming off of a bye. They should be getting healthier, although it is unclear whether Clay Matthews and Casey Hayward are going to play. They don’t lose at home and they don’t lose division games. The Packers are the better team than the Lions from top to bottom, and if they don’t win 1-3 is not a place to make a run at the playoffs from. The team needs this win.
There are reasons to be nervous, however. If Clay Matthews doesn’t play, a unit that hasn’t been very good at rushing the passer is going to get even worse. As soon as he exited the game in Cincinnati, the Packers allowed 3 unanswered touchdowns and lost the game. Calvin Johnson is always a terror, and this projects to be the first time that Sam Shields will line up on him all game. The offensive line had a shaky performance against Cincinnati and the Lions have the best 4-3 DT tandem in the NFL. If Rodgers can’t get the ball out, it’s going to be hard to move the team up and down the field. It might not be a great time to establish Eddie Lacy if Fairley and Suh are going to dominate the game.
Why the Packers Will Win: The Packers are a better team from top to bottom. The Lions can’t win in Wisconsin, not even against Matt Flynn. Regardless of how good Fairley and Suh are, Rodgers was able to beat them in Detroit without Clay Matthews. The Lions might be without #1 CB Chris Houston, and while Houston might not be a household name, or even a true number one, but his absence, would make your three corners Darius Slay, and a few guys by the name of Bill Bently and Jonte Green. I pride myself on being pretty informed about the comings and goings of the NFL, but I don’t have a freaking clue who Bently and Green are. That’s never good when trying to cover Cobb, Jones, and Nelson. One can not understate the importance of Morgan Burnett’s return to this team. He is the QB of the defense and looks to take a huge step in production this season. The team, and coach McCarthy understand that it’s not acceptable to be 1-3, and I don’ t believe that, at home, the Packers are going to allow the Lions to be the team to knock them off.
Why the Lions Will Win: The Lions just took care of the team that everyone had already crowned as the best team in the division, the Chicago Bears. Here’s the thing, though. The Lions lost to a Cardinals team that isn’t very good. They barely beat a Minnesota team that is actually pretty bad. I’m not really convinced that Chicago is a world-beater either. Of course Calvin Johnson could go off, and the idea of Reggie Bush coming out of the backfield and being covered by AJ Hawk kinda makes me want to take a long walk off of a short dock. It is completely feasible that Fairley and Suh could cause a whole bunch of issues with the interior of the offensive line. The Lions look like they can score at will, and it would seem that defensively, they might be just good enough.
Fantasy Packer to Start: Eddie Lacy- Don’t look now but it appears that the newly shuffled offensive line in Green Bay can run block a little bit. for 43 straight games the Packers did not have a 100 yard rusher, but they have had 2 different backs go over a 100 in the last two weeks. This Lions D-Line is very good, but they are going to be concerned with rushing the passer and Lacy, right now, is better than Starks and Franklin.
Fantasy Packer to Sit: Packers Defense and Special Teams- I really don’t see any Packers position player to sit in this matchup. My fear is that the defense doesn’t shut down Detroit for any length of time, especially not enough to warrant a fantasy start. Mike McCarthy hasn’t named a returned so I have a hard time believing whoever that is will take on to the house. I’d stay away.
Packers Stat of the Week: it’s an obvious one this week. The Packers have won 22 straight home games against the Detroit Lions. The Lions did just win their first game in franchise history in Washington, D.C., so they could be in a streak breaking mood this season.
Bottom Line: it’s very strange to say it, especially in week 5, but this is a must win for the Packers. They have built much of their success in recent years on not losing to division opponents and not losing at home. At 1-2 the Packers can afford to do neither. Morgan Burnett returns to the defense and that might spark the back end to be just good enough as Datone Jones, Mike Neal and Nick Perry become more comfortable in the front 7. Aaron Rodgers did not seem particularly thrilled about the loss to the Bengals, and I’m sure he didn’t care for the talk about his lack of 4th quarter comebacks, either. I’m predicting a statement game from the team on Sunday, reminding everybody that this division belongs to the Green Bay Packers. Packers 38 Lions 24