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Packers-Lions Preview: Green Bay stumbles into Detroit to face resurgent Lions

Mike McCarthy's team looks to get its revenge from two and a half weeks ago against a Detroit squad that has now won three in a row.

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

While Green Bay has looked lost over the last month and a half, Detroit has gotten hot and inserted their name in the thick of the playoff race. Thursday night is an important game not only because of the division implications, but because both need a win to help gain traction in a crowded NFC. Just when everyone began to think the Packers had turned the corner with a win in Minnesota, they failed to show up on the biggest stage of the year in a home loss to Chicago on Thanksgiving. A loss in Detroit would end their four-game divisional stretch with a record of 1-3.

The Lions, on the other hand, are coming off a whooping of the Eagles also on Thanksgiving. After starting 1-7, three wins a row have now put them two games out of the last Wild Card spot. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has led the resurgence with 761 yards passing and seven touchdowns during the three-game winning streak.

In the Week 10 matchup at Lambeau, Detroit often ran press-man coverage on defense with just a single high safety. They clearly were not concerned about any downfield threat in the passing game, and Green Bay was unable to take advantage of the opportunity. That extra body in the box helped limit James Starks, who had 15 carries, to just 42 yards. The Packers' inability to win one-on-one matchups on the outside was never more prevalent than in this game. It will be interesting to see if the Lions deploy the same strategy again this time around, but the Green Bay receivers must be ready for it and able to win their matchups.

Offensively, Detroit sports the league's worst rushing attack, totaling just 74.5 yards per game. If Green Bay wants to shut down their best weapon, Calvin Johnson, a stout run defense will be a good place to start. Sam Shields and rookie Damarious Randall have been playing at a high level, but both are considerably undersized when lined up against Johnson. The ability to commit a second defensive back to his side can go a long way in limiting Detroit's attack. They found marginal success in the previous meeting, with Johnson finishing with six catches for 81 yards and no touchdowns.

Defensively, Green Bay doesn't need to change a whole lot from the previous meeting, a game they could have, and perhaps should have, won. Despite one of the Lions' drives starting on Green Bay's one yard-line, they only scored two touchdowns against the Packers' defense. When the Packers' offense is clicking, that is more than enough to secure a Green Bay victory. The formula when the Packers have the ball should be simple: establish a run to help open up the pass. From there, receivers need to find a way to get open. On defense, shut down the run and keep an eye on Johnson. We'll see if Green Bay will be able to make it happen.