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Lions vs. Packers: Q&A with Pride of Detroit

Sean Yuille of SB Nation's Detroit Lions blog Pride of Detroit answers our questions about Jim Caldwell, Detroit's offense, and what he expects from Lions vs. Packers.

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On Sunday, the NFC North will be decided at Lambeau Field. Sean Yuille of Pride of Detroit was kind enough to answer some questions about the Detroit Lions and provide insight into their strengths and weaknesses.

APC: Detroit features a cavalcade of talented offensive players like Calvin Johnson, Matthew Stafford and Golden Tate. Yet heading into the season finale, the team ranks 23rd in the league in scoring. Have the Lions not utilized their talent, or is there something else that explains the lack of production on offense?

Early in the season, it really seemed like injuries were to blame for the offense's struggles. Now, though, it's clear that this just isn't a very good offense. Joe Lombardi doesn't seem like a very good play caller (especially compared to Scott Linehan), and the scheme itself just isn't all that effective. Case in point: Eric Ebron was drafted 10th overall this year, and the Lions also have another former first-round pick at tight end in Brandon Pettigrew, yet the tight end position is completely uninvolved in the passing game. There are a lot of things about this scheme that just don't make sense. I know the Lions have tried to avoid turnovers, and that conservative approach has led to some of the struggles on offense, but this has been a huge disappointment all season.

APC: Nearly a full season into Jim Caldwell's tenure as the Lions' head coach, how do you evaluate his performance? What are his greatest strengths and weaknesses?

His greatest strength is definitely his ability to lead. He rarely shows emotion and never panics, and the Lions have really taken on that identity after often being an out-of-control team that was prone to mistakes at the worst possible time under Jim Schwartz.

As for his biggest weakness, it's tough to pinpoint one specific thing that stands out as a huge issue. His overly conservative nature has been a bit annoying at times this season, but that's been balanced out by him being extremely aggressive in certain games. I guess more than anything, the lack of improvement from Matthew Stafford is the biggest concern I've seen from the first year of the Caldwell era. Caldwell was hired to turn Stafford into a better quarterback, but there's really been no consistent improvement from him. Perhaps that says more about Stafford than anyone, but given Caldwell's offensive background, it's alarming that Stafford and the offense aren't performing at a very high level.

APC: Do you expect Teryl Austin to be the Lions' defensive coordinator next season, or do you see him as the head coach somewhere else?

I expect him to interview for one or two jobs, but I'd be surprised if he goes from defensive coordinator to head coach after just one season in Detroit. It wouldn't be unprecedented, but when a guy like Todd Bowles is out there and still hasn't gotten a head coaching job, it seems like Austin is probably another year or two away from that kind of a rise up the coaching ranks.

APC: These two teams last played in Week 3. What has been the biggest change you've seen in the Lions since that time?

There aren't really too many huge differences. The Lions still aren't scoring a ton of points on a consistent basis, but their defense still isn't allowing many points on a consistent basis. I guess more than anything, the Lions appear to finally have a reliable kicker in Matt Prater, although he did get a field goal blocked last week. The awful turf at Soldier Field was mainly to blame (he slipped), but either way, he has brought some stability to the kicker position, and that is something the Lions definitely did not have earlier in the season.

APC: Finally, it's prediction time. Which team wins on Sunday and why?

As much as I'd like to predict a Lions victory, I just don't see it. I know the Lions dominated the Packers earlier in the season, but my expectation is for this to be a close game early and a Packers win in the end because Aaron Rodgers outperforms Matthew Stafford. The defense is only going to be able to do so much against Rodgers at Lambeau Field, and unless Stafford and the offense show some kind of ability to consistently move the ball and find the end zone, it's tough to see this ending in a Lions victory.

We'd like to thank Sean for answering our questions. Be sure to check out our Q&A session over at Pride of Detroit as well as their fantastic coverage of all things Lions. As always, keep your Internet machines tuned to Acme Packing Company this Sunday for our comprehensive game-day coverage of Lions vs. Packers.

Jason B. Hirschhorn covers the Green Bay Packers for Acme Packing Company. He also serves as an SB Nation Newsdesk Contributor and writes for Sports on Earth.