It's Friday, and that means it's time to preview the key opponents to watch for Sunday's game. This week the Packers travel to Detroit for an NFC North battle against the Lions, who clawed their way back to .500 before losing in Minnesota last week. Here are some key Lions to keep an eye on this weekend.
Raiola will be responsible for setting the Lions' protection schemes in the middle of the offensive line. He'll also likely see a lot of nose tackle B.J. Raji, who will look to shut down the run game in the middle and force the Lions' running backs to the outside. Raiola is a wily veteran of 12 seasons, all of them with Detroit, so he knows the Packers well. Whether he can keep his game at a high level against Raji and the Packers' defensive lineman will be help dictate how the Lions' offense tries to move the ball on Sunday.
Duh, Megatron is the best playmaker on the field for Detroit. You should watch him just to see some of the highlight-reel plays that he is capable of. What is of more interest to me is how the Lions use him schematically; he is expected to shift around the formations, playing on both sides and potentially in the slot as well. His movement will force Dom Capers to account for him and come up with some creative coverage packages.
DE Cliff Avril
Avril has been the Lions best pass rusher for a while now, with 19.5 sacks over the past two full seasons. He has another 4.5 so far this year, and will likely put a lot of pressure on new right tackle T.J. Lang. His back has been bothering him somewhat recently, but not enough to keep him off the field on Sundays, However, he hasn't recorded a sack or more than two tackles in any game since week 7, so that injury may be affecting his play.
OLB DeAndre Levy
Of course, I'll touch on the former Badger on the roster. Levy was a solid contributor and three year starter at Wisconsin, always more steady and reliable than his flashier counterpart, Jonathan Casillas. Levy isn't particularly good as a pass-rusher, with only one sack over 3+ seasons, but he's very solid in coverage and he's been a sure tackler. In short, he does his job and lets the other players in his unit get a lot of the hype.
CB Jonte Green
Green has started two games this year while first-stringer Chris Houston has been out with injuries. Houston remains limited in practice, so it's entirely possible that Green could get another start. If Houston plays, Green will still see the field a lot as the nickel back, and would likely be called on to cover Randall Cobb frequently. I expect Mike McCarthy to throw at Green early and often.