Tale Of The Tape: Detroit Lions At Green Bay Packers

CLEVELAND, OH - AUGUST 15: Quarterback Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions looks for a pass during the first half against the Cleveland Browns of a preseason at FirstEnergy Stadium on August 15, 2013 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
  • Quarterback
    Matthew Stafford led the Lions to a convincing win over the division rival Chicago Bears, and now he will try to do the same at Green Bay. Unlike past years, Stafford no longer believes he has to do it by himself. The presence of Reggie Bush has taken some of the pressure off. Stafford is a big man who can shake off the first wave of the rush, and then accurately deliver the ball downfield.
    The Packers are home against a division rival they have dominated for years. That means Aaron Rodgers will need to be at his best. In games like these, he usually comes out with a lot of early momentum and he will try to get the Lions on the run early. Look for him to spread the ball out with accuracy and use his quick release to set the tone for this game.
  • Offense
    The Lions have a viable ground game for as long as Bush stays healthy. That has not always been possible in the past, but he is coming off a 139-yard effort against the Bears. Bush is also vital to the passing game. Calvin Johnson can get the best of any defensive back and he will try to hurt the Packers with big plays down field.
    The Packers have had a credible ground game for the first time in years, but they are still going to do most of their damage through the air. It may be difficult for the Lions to contain Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson. Cobb has the speed and moves to get open for big plays while Nelson excels at getting into the soft spots and exploiting them.
  • Defense
    Some observers like to look at Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and brand him as Public Enemy No. 1. While he may have brought some of this on himself in the past, he is playing dominant football and the Packers will have to contain him. Nick Fairley is an excellent pass rusher while linebacker Stephen Tulloch is coming off a 14-tackle effort against the Bears.
    The Packers have made an effort to become a much more physical team than they were a year ago, but they are still struggling with the 28th rated defense. Unheralded linebacker Brad Jones is the team’s leading tackler with 26 stops, while fellow linebacker A.J. Hawk is right behind with 23. Cornerback Sam Shields has 21 tackles, seven passes defended and one interception.
  • Special Teams
    The Lions have been below average in their kickoff and punt coverage, but they got a big lift from Micheal Spurlock, who returned a punt 57 yards against the Bears in Week Four. Placekicker David Akers was awful last year for the Niners, but he made 4-of-4 attempts against the Bears.
    The Packers have been very responsible with their kickoff and punt coverage this season. Mason Crosby is trying to rebound from a tough year and he has made his first four FG attempts. Tim Masthay gets excellent height on his punts.
RESULTS
The Lions are playing like they should be taken seriously this year in the NFC North, but they will be up against it in this game because they have not won in Green Bay since 1991. The Packers should be at their best after having had a bye week to prepare for Detroit’s explosive offense. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor

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