The Packers are in an interesting place this Sunday when they face the Detroit Lions. The Lions are a team falling apart at the seams, but with little to lose. The Packers on the other hand are a team keeping things together and seems to have everything to lose. Both teams are struggling with injuries, both teams are missing young impact players from their last meeting…even though it was not too long ago. How the Packers handle this game may be telling on how the team will fare in the playoffs….but then again it may mean nothing with the amount of injuries that the team has and big name players that should be returning soon. Like I said, interesting.
The most important part is going to be coming away from Sunday with a victory. This will put the Packers in a position to secure the NFC North crown and start fighting for a prime spot in the NFC playoff picture. Here are the keys to getting that victory and continuing the Packers streak of dominance at Lambeau Field.
1. Listen to Admiral Ackbar.
ITS A TRAP! (via omafakinggad)
If this game doesn't smell like a trap game I don’t know what does. As said above, the Lions don’t have anything to lose, but the Packers do….and next week is probably the most important game of the last half of the season. Against the Packers longest rival. Who is also their only real threat for the division crown. It’s awfully tempting to forget about the Lions and just keep an eye on the Bears.
This would be a mistake. Beating the Lions has to be the only focus for the Packers, and with the struggles the Packers are going to face getting pressure on Matthew Stafford and keeping pressure off Aaron Rodgers, that focus is going to be needed on this week’s game and this week’s game alone.
2. Get the quick pass game working.
Since it is looking more and more like Evan Dietrich-Smith AND Don Barclay are going to be starting for the Packers it’s time to start game planning for a very short amount of time in the pocket. The best way of handling this line situation is to get the short passes going. Screens, slants, and passes to the tight end are going to be staple of the day to keep the chains moving and keep Rodgers from getting killed. With Jermichael Finley looking better, Tom Crabtree catching the balls thrown his way, Randall Cobb still looking like a beast, and Greg Jennings back healthy, this should be doable.
3. Win in the trenches.
It doesn't have to be pretty, but victories need to happen on both sides of the line. The last time the Packers played the Lions Ryan Pickett had a fantastic day rushing the passer. If that happens again awesome, but it’s not really Pickett’s specialty, so a big day from Jerel Worthy or Mike Daniels is needed.
On the offensive line we fans will get to see what EDS and Barclay bring to the table….and it had better be something decent from one or both of them. The Packers an work with one leak in the line, but not two. The real pressure has to be on EDS though, because it’s the middle of the line that is truly going to be tested. It’s also the part of the line that is the hardest to give help to with running backs and tight ends. Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley have to be accounted for and controlled if the Packers offense is going to get moving on Sunday.
4. Prevent the big play.
This was brought up the last time, but with the Lions it’s worth saying again. The Lions offense is going to gain yards, and Calvin Johnson will probably reach the 100 yard mark. That’s okay. What’s not okay is if the Packers are letting the Lions move the ball in big chunks down the field because then Johnson’s numbers are going to go from 100 yards of receiver to 200 yards quickly. It’s also the best way for the Lions to score points. Slow down their offense and force the them to string together 10 or 12 play drives….it maximizes the amount of mistakes that the Lions will make. The Lions are a team who will make mistakes and the Packers are a defense that will capitalize on those mistakes.
Adrian Peterson broke out and ran for way too many yards on Sunday because the defense failed thoroughly at tackling. Many seemed to blame Morgan Burnett and the secondary for this occurrence. Understandable since they had some of the more highlight worthy moments of missed tackles, but guys in the secondary are always going to struggle bringing down AP. The real culprits were the LB’s getting eaten up by AP or the Vikings offensive linemen (I’m looking at you A.J. Hawk and Erik Walden).
Really, the defense as a whole needs to improve on this front. Mikel Leshoure is a tough runner like AP. He probably won’t break out for 200 yards and very big runs like Peterson did last week, but if the Lions can find a groove with the running game they may be able to control the tempo of the game and find consistency on offense. This will cause problems for the Packers, especially considering how thin they are in their front seven this week being down to 4 defensive linemen and missing Clay Matthews again.