After two rough weekends, the Packers get a chance to return to their winning ways against the Lions, a team that hasn’t won at Lambeau since the year I was born (1991). After a rejuvenated fourth quarter in Carolina, the Pack looks to get their offense back on the rails against a struggling Lions team going through transition.
With the Vikings right on their heels and a matchup with them looming, the Packers need to take this game to get some semblance of consistency before the big NFC North clash. And that leads to this week’s version of 3…2…1…
For those of you who haven’t read this series yet, please read the following paragraph. For regular readers, feel free to get to the heading below. The series goes like this: Every Saturday (and occasional Tuesday), I will highlight 3 key matchups, make 2 bold predictions, and focus on 1 key stat that the team needs to win for a chance at victory. So let’s dive in.
3 KEY MATCHUPS
- David Bakhtiari vs. Ziggy Ansah
- A basic one, Ansah is the biggest playmaker on the Lions defense, with 7 sacks. And Bakhtiari is extremely adept at controlling pure speed rushers with his hand placement and feet. Where he struggles is against the bull rush, which is why I feel he had a slight advantage in this battle. Ansah’s motor also runs hot and cold, so he could have one of those games where he isn’t always focused, severely handicapping the Lions defense.
- James Starks vs. Stephen Tulloch
- The new starter at running back is hoping to keep up the good work that he’s done in recent weeks, and he needs to this week to keep the pass rush at bay. If he can cut upfield quickly and get to the second level early and often, then Detroit’s defense has to hesitate briefly. His speed and quickness compliments Aaron Rodgers so well, and his big play ability opens up so many options for the offense.
- Damarious Randall vs. Golden Tate
- Sam Shields, if he goes as he is currently questionable, gets the honor of covering Calvin Johnson. But someone has to cover the underneath guy who specializes in those quick hitters and breaking tackles. Tate is a master of the dig route and in making people miss, but Randall has come alive very well and is a monster in the secondary right now. He took his lumps early last week but can make impact plays and is a good tackler. He’ll need to be against Tate.
2 BOLD PREDICTIONS
- Matt Stafford will get sacked more than 5 times.
- After ranking second in the NFL in sacks before the bye, the defense has been shut out twice in a row, something unimaginable the past 7 or so years. That can’t, and won’t happen this week. Stafford holds on to the ball for a long time to let his receivers get open, and that is a recipe for disaster with an angry defense facing a mediocre offensive line. I see a sea of green living in the Detroit backfield.
- Davante Adams will have over 120 yards receiving
- After having a big week last week, Davante looks to be healthy again and he is the X-Factor of this offense. A big, strong receiver with hands and route running skills like Adams is built for this offense and Detroit isn’t known for their secondary. I look for a monster game from #17.
1 KEY STAT
- Time of possession
- Pure and simple. The offense needs to control the ball. They haven’t done that in over a month and with a dangerous stretch of schedule still staring them in the face, they have no choice but to control the clock or struggle to win any game. Their hurry up offense was great in Carolina late in the game, and I look for that again Sunday. They can get to the line and make adjustments, forcing Detroit to keep their guys out there. Part of the problem the last few weeks was that because the Packers would change large position groupings, the defenses could do the same (except Denver, they just were better). But if Rodgers can get to the line and halt the substitutions, the Packers have a great chance of scoring a crooked number and going to 7-2.
Mike Wendlandt is originally from Iola, Wisconsin and graduated from Drake University in 2015 with a degree in History. With a significant journalism background both in writing and broadcasting, Mike can be heard as the play-by-play voice of Central Wisconsin High School sports on WDUX FM 92.7 and on Twitter @MikeWendlandt.
Mike Wendlandt is a writer covering the Green Bay Packers for PackersTalk.com.