Everyone with a fantasy team probably noticed that Atlanta's RB Michael Turner ran all over Detroit for 220 yards, and backup RB Jerious Norwood almost had a 100 yard rushing game too. Atlanta wasn't running the ball because rookie QB Matt Ryan was struggling either. Ryan's first NFL completion was a 62 yard TD bomb. Yes, Detroit's defense looked and was awful. Take it from an expert, Pride of Detroit's Sean Yuille:
- Despite their improvements during the preseason, the defense was absolutely pathetic. I don't know if I've ever seen a game with more missed tackles. That was a big reason why the Falcons ended up with 318 rushing yards. Michael Turner set a single-game franchise record for rushing yards with 220 of his own. He also scored a pair of touchdowns and would have had three had it not been for a holding penalty. Even their backup, Jerious Norwood, ran for 93 yards and a touchdown.
- The passing defense wasn't any better. Matt Ryan went 9/13 for 161 yards and 1 touchdown. That touchdown came on his first NFL pass as he hit Michael Jenkins for a 62-yard score. Travis Fisher looked terrible on multiple occasions and Leigh Bodden didn't look much better at times.
To make matters worse, the dominant defensive line we saw in the preseason was rarely dominant in yesterday's game. The Lions only had a single sack and never got much pressure on Matt Ryan, resulting in his nearly 70% completion rating.
Against Minnesota, the Packers offense looked sharp (except for penalties), and the Packers defense played good too (except they only forced one turnover, had trouble stopping Minnesota on 3rd and 4th down, and with their own penalties). The current game odds favors the Packers by 3 points which is way too tight. It wasn't like Detroit's defensive struggles are new either because the Packers ran all over them last year in Detroit on their way to a 37-26 victory. Still there is a way Detroit can win this game:
- Packers' secondary vs. Detroit's wide receivers. WRs Calvin Johnson and Roy Williams are very good, and they will have some big plays against the Packers. A 100 yard game by either, or both, isn't going to decide the game in Detroit's favor. They need more help then just that.
- Packers vs. penalties. This was the dark cloud over the Vikings win. The Packers 12 penalties for 118 yards against Minnesota was awful, but they were bad last year in Detroit with 9 penalties for 81 yards. This alone won't tip the game in favor of Detroit, but if Tony Moll calls back another TD pass to Donald Driver there will be hell to pay.
- Packers vs. turnovers. The defense should force turnovers, but the Packers have forced only one turnover in each of the last two wins at Detroit. The defense doesn't have to force turnovers for the Packers to win. But the Packers offense can't cough the ball up. The last Packer loss at Detroit was a stinker of a game when the Packers had 3 turnovers, 216 yards in offense, and 14 penalties (and lost WR Javon Walker to a season ending knee injury). Detroit's early season success in 2007 was fueled by their defense and all the turnovers they recovered. This is the real problem area that has to be watched on Sunday.
I'm not expecting the Packers to lose, but it's the NFL and no game is safe. As you watch QB Aaron Rodgers lead the occassional three-and-out, while QB Jon Kitna has success moving his offense down the field on an early scoring drive or two, don't panic. P Derrick Frost will punt the ball occassionally and Detroit will probably score over 20 points, but this is the Packers game to win.