This Sunday, the Packers look to get back to .500 as they take on the NFC North leading Detroit Lions. Sean Yuille of Pride of Detroit was kind enough to answer some questions about the Lions and gives us his game prediction.
APC: One of the bigger stories over the past week was Nate Burleson's pizza related injury. With him on the shelf until November, who are the Lions relying on to step up and produce opposite of Calvin Johnson?
PoD: Last week against the Bears, Ryan Broyles and Kris Durham got a lot more playing time. The Lions also targeted Brandon Pettigrew much more consistently than usual, indicating that it was a combined effort to make up for the loss of Burleson. That will continue to be the case going forward, and the Lions also recently added free agent Kevin Ogletree, who was just released by the Buccaneers, as additional depth at wide receiver.
APC: Through four games, Matthew Stafford has thrown for the fourth most passing yards in the NFL. He's also on pace to set new career marks for completion percentage and yards per pass attempt. Are we witnessing the maturation of Matthew Stafford, or is this just a case of small sample size?
PoD: If anything, hopefully we're just seeing the same Matthew Stafford who led the Lions to the playoffs in 2011. He was excellent that year, but he was not very efficient in 2012. Stafford tried to force the ball too often, and generally speaking, he just didn't seem comfortable whenever there was pressure on him in the pocket. It also didn't help that many of his wide receivers either got hurt (Broyles and Burleson) or melted down (Titus Young). By the end of the season, it was clear that he just wasn't on the same page with many of his targets.
This year, it was more of the same for Stafford in the preseason. Luckily, though, the 2012 Stafford disappeared once the regular season began. He still has his moments where his accuracy isn't great or he will make a poor decision to try and force a throw, but he has been much more consistent this season. It helps that he actually has a weapon at running back with the addition of Reggie Bush, and the offensive line, which features three new starters, has done an excellent job of protecting him. Many factors have gone into Stafford's nice start to the season, and the hope obviously is that he will continue to play this well going forward.
APC: Reggie Bush has long been one of the NFL's most puzzling enigmas. He scorched the Chicago Bears' defense this past weekend for 173 total yards and a touchdown, yet in his previous game against a far lesser defense, Bush ran for only 25 yards on nine carries. Which version is more likely to show up at Lambeau Field on Sunday?
PoD: Bush opened the season with 191 total yards against the Vikings in Week 1, and he had 69 total yards in Week 2 against the Cardinals before suffering a knee injury toward the end of the first half. He basically didn't play the rest of the game, and he missed the Lions' game in Week 3 because of the injury. As long as he stays healthy, I don't think there's any doubt about which Bush you will see on Sunday. He is perfect for the Lions' offense, and he has really been their most dynamic offensive player so far this season.
APC: The Detroit defensive line has gained a reputation as one if not the preeminent fronts in the league. We all know about Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, but what should non-Lions fans know about the others?
PoD: At defensive end, the Lions' starters are Ziggy Ansah and Willie Young with Jason Jones out for the year. Ansah has really gotten off to a good start considering how raw he was considered to be coming into training camp. He has displayed good instincts in defending the run, and he already has 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Young has also been pretty good this season. He's been known in the past for his great play in the preseason, and this year it looks like he's finally carried that over to the regular season.
The backups on the D-line are veteran Israel Idonije and rookie Devin Taylor at defensive end and primarily C.J. Mosley at defensive tackle. The overall depth from top to bottom isn't out of this world or anything, but when you have quite possibly the best defensive tackle tandem in the NFL, it really doesn't need to be.
APC: It's prediction time. Who walks away victorious this Sunday?
PoD: As much as I'd like to say that the Lions will end another ridiculous road losing streak (earlier in the season they won their first game ever at Washington), I just can't see it happening. There have been too many bad moments for the Lions over the last two decades at Lambeau Field for me to believe they will actually come away with a victory. It wouldn't necessarily shock me if the streak does come to an end, but I'm not expecting a win by any means.
We'd like to thank Sean and Pride of Detroit for answering our questions. Be sure to check out our Q&A session over there as well as their fantastic coverage of all things Lions. As always, keep your internet machines tuned to Acme Packing Company this Sunday for game day coverage.
Jason Hirschhorn covers the Green Bay Packers for Acme Packing Co. He has previously written for Lombardi Ave, College Hoops Net, LiveBall Sports, and the List Universe. He is also currently a senior writer for Beats Per Minute, an indie-music webzine. Follow him on Twitter: @JBHirschhorn
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