The Green Bay Packers find themselves in a tricky and unique situation going into Thursday night's NFC North clash with the Detroit Lions. For the first time in a long time, the Lions won the reverse fixture and now look for the series sweep in Detroit, something that has not happened since the early 1990's.
Aaron Rodgers has played some of his worst football recently while the Packers defense cannot make up its mind on whether to be a dominant, ball-hawking team or a swiss cheese, anyone can run and pass on us all day defense. If there were ever a game that should scare Packers fans, tonight against the pass-happy Lions is that game.
Before everyone jumps on the "Green Bay almost came back and beat Detroit last time, Mason Crosby just does not know how to kick!" train, let’s just take a moment to point a few things out. Green Bay never looked engaged in that game. The only reason it came down to a late game-losing field goal attempt was due to Rodgers leaving everything he had on the field. (Side note, yours truly understand it is a kicker's job to make field goals, no matter the distance, however, kicking from anywhere outside of 45 yards is never a given. Crosby simply misjudged the hold and topped the ball. This writer once was a kicker and that stuff happens all the time).
Detroit carries a significant amount of momentum coming into tonight's game. The Lions throttled the Philadelphia Eagles on Thanksgiving afternoon, dropping 45 points. Matthew Stafford tossed five touchdowns while Calvin Johnson caught three of those. Last week's game showed signs of the Lions team that NFL analyst's originally predicted going into this season. If that same Lions team shows up tonight against Green Bay's injury-ridden defense, it could get ugly fast.
Another key for the Lions is to get consistent pressure on Aaron Rodgers, something most opponents have done well this season. Rodgers is dangerous out of the pocket, but if he never has time to set his feet or even complete his first check-down, the Lions can take that advantage and run away with the game.
Last week the Packers saw signs of the "old" Eddie Lacy, as the third-year back ran for 100 yards for the second straight week. Until two weeks ago, many fans were calling him to sit the rest of the season or even to throw him on the trade block. It appears Lacy heard those cries from fans and has altered his game accordingly, at least for now. Lacy is the biggest key to Green Bay winning tonight's game. If Lacy can break out a 20+ carry night for at least 90-120 yards and a touchdown, Green Bay will come away with the victory.
Ultimately, this game will be a hard-fought, NFC North battle that will produce some terrific talking points for the media this evening and tomorrow morning. At the end of the day, Green Bay will walk away with a close but still decisive victory, thanks to the play of Lacy and defense.
Prediction: Green Bay 28, Detroit 27