Early Bird Breakdown Week 17 -Lions @ Packers

Hello and welcome back to Early Bird Breakdown. It’s week seventeen, the final week of the regular season for the Packers. Before diving into the game, let’s look at the recap from last week.

The Recap:

Last week Green Bay put the Vikings away early by scoring 28 points in the first half leading to a comfortable 38-25 win to setup a division winner-take-all showdown for the Packers on the road in Detroit this week. The offense is in fine form going into the final week of the regular season.

The Breakdown:

Packers’ Offense vs Lions’ Defense:

Green Bay’s offense is on fire right now fueled by the combination of Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson. Nelson in the last four games has 437 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns. Trying to stop the dynamic duo is a Detroit defense that is falling apart at the seams, getting scorched last week for 42 points against Dallas. Detroit has not played well enough in the secondary to slow down Green Bay, and while the Packers have had a number of drops lately from wide receivers, specifically Davante Adams, they will not beat themselves enough for the Lions to even the gap in talent.

If Detroit’s defense is going to have a chance, it will be in using their defensive line and creative blitz packages to get to Rodgers before the secondary gives up space in coverage. If the Lions can get three or more key sacks, they can keep this game close, something they have been all too familiar with this season.

Packers’ Defense vs Lions’ Offense:

Despite what the numbers will tell you about the Lions’ offense, the Packers’ defense will have a difficult matchup this week. Quarterback Matthew Stafford can air it out and hit deep throws accurately, and the Lions have talented wideouts to exploit this secondary. Marvin Jones & Golden Tate will give corners Damarious Randall and Quinton Rollins fits.

The Packers like the Lions will have to exploit Detroit’s offensive line and get to Matt Stafford. The key matchup here is right tackle Riley Reiff who is dealing with a hip injury against linebacker Nick Perry. If Perry can get past Reiff consistently it will be hard for Stafford to get the ball down field; though talented the Lions’ wide receivers aren’t particularly deep burners (just like the Packers) so if Stafford does not have time to let the play develop the Packers can keep the Lions’ receivers more-or-less in check.

The Weather:

Detroit plays in a dome so weather will not be a factor.

The Breakdown:

First of all, it is worth noting that this is not entirely a must win for these teams to make the playoffs. If Washington loses earlier in the day to the New York Giants then both teams are in. If Washington wins, then this game is do-or-die for both teams.

The last time these two teams met Green Bay was able to pile on early against Detroit but Detroit rallied back to only lose by seven. Detroit all season long has been a play-from-behind team and more often than not they have pulled it through in the clutch. The biggest wild card factor in the game will be the crowd. This is an environment that has historically not been kind to Green Bay in recent years, having multiple hard losses and last year needing a Hail Mary pass to win. If Detroit takes an early lead of 10 or more then the Packers probably will not over come the environment for the come back. However, it is hard not seeing the Packers (a much better first half than second half team) not coming out of the gate and putting the Lions down by 10 or more at the start. I expect this game to be exciting near the end, but with the way the Lions have played lately it’s hard to not see the red-hot Packers taking this one 38-31.

As always, go Pack go! Stu Weis -Journalism graduate 2012, Carroll University