Well, we're back into it after a long bye week, made even longer by the aftermath of the game in the Metrodome. Luckily, the Packers return home to a beatable division team in the Detroit Lions, likely without two of their biggest offensive weapons. That said, this is the NFL, and the talent is too spread out to take anything for granted this season--except maybe beating the Jaguars (upon further review, that wouldn't be an easy game either). I mean, hell, Antwan Odom sacked Aaron Rodgers 5 times a few weeks back. As Mitchell might say, OMGWTFBBQ!?
So what are the key factors for this game, you ask? Well, you came to the right place. Let's take a look.
1. The return of Atari Bigby
The key here isn't how Bigby plays, it's with Capers' playcalling now that he has his physical safety back in the lineup. I expect more of the creative blitzing packages that were called in the Bears game as opposed to the more passive approach that has been taken since Bigby was injured. With Culpepper and the issue of his small hands, I think that a consistently effective pass rush can force a few fumbles and erratic throws. And as we've established, turnovers are one of the keys for this defense.
2. The "restored" Offensive line
I know, normally I would look for issues that aren't widely talked about. But this one is too big to ignore. Chad Clifton's return allows the line to return to its season-opening personnel, which performed moderately well against a strong Bears front (if you ignore the fact that Allen Barbre forgot to show up for the first half). I expect Mark Tauscher to be inactive on Sunday, so don't worry about him. I just hope this unit makes it through this game healthy and keeps Rodgers off his back.
What happened to the superstar? Are teams keying on the Packers' 85 and making the other receivers beat them? If that's the case, I'm confident that Jennings can beat whatever double coverage the Lions throw at him. If it's something else, then I just don't know. Maybe that wrist injury is hurting him more than he or McCarthy let on. No matter what, I think a game against the Lions is just what the doctor ordered for the Ocho Cinco who wears Green and Gold (and therefore, for my fantasy team as well).
Since I've made a fool of myself predicting the scores of games so far this year, I won't attempt to put a score up there. But I think the Pack wins by 8.