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

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Sean Yuille of SB Nation's Detroit Lions blog Pride of Detroit answers out questions about Matthew Stafford, Detroit's secondary, and what he expects from Packers vs. Lions.

Streeter Lecka

On Sunday, the Green Bay Packers face their first divisional opponent in the Detroit Lions. Sean Yuille of Pride of Detroit was kind enough to answer some questions about the Lions and provide insight into their strengths and weaknesses.

APC: Detroit's Matthew Stafford rolled up 346 yards, two touchdown passes and another on the ground in a Week 1 rout of the Giants. Last Sunday however, Stafford struggled and the Lions managed only seven points. What accounts for the difference in his performances? Can it simply be chalked up to playing at home versus on the road, or are other factors responsible?

For starters, the Panthers have a much better defense and coaching staff than the Giants. The Lions had success moving the ball early against Carolina, but the Panthers made adjustments and really took away Golden Tate, who was a big part of the game plan in the first half. This led to Stafford focusing in on Calvin Johnson too much as the game progressed, especially when pressure started to mount up front. Stafford sort of regressed to the player we saw in the second half of last season, and that was not a good thing for the Lions.

APC: Based on the preseason and first two weeks, what are the most notable distinctions between former Lions head coach Jim Schwartz and his successor Jim Caldwell?

More than anything, I think the biggest differences are in attitude and demeanor. Under Schwartz, the Lions really took on his fiery personality. That was good at times, but it often led to a lot of dumb penalties. Caldwell, on the other hand, rarely shows any emotion, and he presents a much more businesslike approach to being the head coach. The change hasn't exactly cleaned up the Lions' issues with penalties and turnovers and things like that just yet, but there's clearly an emphasis on getting better in those areas.

APC: Detroit released defensive backs Chris Houston and Louis Delmas in the offseason, both of which started for the Lions the past several seasons. How has the team adjusted in their absence, and what improvements have been noticeable?

Houston was released after a rough 2013 season, mainly because he had offseason toe surgery that would have kept him out for much or all of 2014. If he were healthy, I'd say the Lions miss him from a depth standpoint. Darius Slay and Rashean Mathis have done a pretty good job as the starters at cornerback so far, but there is no real depth behind them with Bill Bentley and Nevin Lawson suffering season-ending injuries in the first two weeks of the season.

At safety, the Lions essentially swapped out Delmas for James Ihedigbo, who played for defensive coordinator Teryl Austin in Baltimore. Delmas was a cap casualty, but the Lions also decided to move on because he has struggled to stay healthy over the years. Unfortunately, bringing in Ihedigbo hasn't exactly worked out so far because he has been injured for the last month or so. He's been practicing as of late, but he hasn't played since Week 2 of the preseason. At least so far, we haven't really gotten a chance to see what Ihedigbo can bring to the defense.

APC: If you were game planning against the Lions, how would you attack them on offense? On defense?

When the Lions have the ball, there are a few important points. For starters, don't let Calvin Johnson go off for a big game. That sort of goes without saying, but he can easily rack up 150+ yards if you're not careful. At the same time, it's clear based on last week that defenses need to worry about Golden Tate and some of the Lions' other weapons as well. If you can keep them covered, Matthew Stafford might start forcing passes to Johnson, which will likely lead to an interception at some point. Finally, getting pressure on Stafford is important. His footwork has improved, but constantly getting pressure on him could lead to a breakdown in his mechanics.

When you're facing the Lions defense, the main thing is to give your quarterback time to air it out. The Lions' secondary has done a pretty good job so far this season, but Eli Manning and a less-than-100-percent Cam Newton are obviously not Aaron Rodgers. If he is given time to throw, he should be able to find open receivers downfield, and chances are there will be at least one or two big plays to be had.

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

If the Packers' offensive line had things figured out, I'd probably go with Green Bay. However, with the Lions doing a better job of getting to the opposing quarterback this year and the Packers having a tough time protecting Aaron Rodgers, I have the Lions winning 31-27. I think this will be a close game that goes down to the wire, and with the Lions playing at home, I'm going to give them the edge this week.

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 our comprehensive game-day coverage of Packers vs. Lions.

Jason 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.