Week 14: Detroit Lions At Green Bay Packers
- QuarterbackMatthew Stafford has big yardage numbers this year, but the Lions are not playing winning football. Much of this has to fall on Stafford’s shoulders because he seems to make many of the right moves but he often struggles to finish off key drives with touchdowns or will miss receivers and throw interceptions. Stafford certainly has all the tools to work with, but his performance has been up-and-down.Aaron Rodgers is often on the run, but he continues to play the game in stellar fashion. Rodgers is completing 67.4 percent of his passes and has a superior 29-8 TD-to-interception ratio. However, his offensive line does not always give him enough time to feel comfortable in the pocket. If it did, his numbers might be record-setting.
- OffenseThe Lions can throw the ball all over the field, thanks in large part to the presence of Calvin Johnson. When the big receiver is on top of his game, he is basically impossible to cover because of his size, strength and speed. The Lions have a solid complementary receiver in tight end Brandon Pettigrew and the running game with Mikel Leshoure and Joique Bell is credible.The Packers have little interest in running the football. That was apparent when they signed Cedric Benson in the offseason. Benson’s foot injury in Week Five gave Alex Green a shot, but he’s not a real threat. Packer receivers James Jones, Randall Cobb and tight end Jermichael Finley can dominate. Jordy Nelson (hamstring) may have a hard time getting ready to play against the Lions.
- DefenseThe Lions don’t come up with the key stops when they need them. They had the Colts on the ropes in Week 13 but they gave up two late touchdowns – including one on the final play of the game – that caused their downfall. Stephen Tulloch is a solid tackler at the linebacker slot while defensive end Cliff Avril (8.5 sacks) has speed coming around the corner.The Packers are very aggressive on defense, but they have missed Clay Matthews (hamstring) badly. Matthews has missed the last three games, but he made progress last week and could return for this game. He has 9.0 sacks and he gives their pass rush credibility. Linebacker A.J. Hawk leads the Packers with 96 tackles and free safety Morgan Burnett has 92 stops.
- Special TeamsThe coverage teams have been troublesome for Detroit. Stefan Logan is a decent return man for the Lions, but opponents are outperforming them on kickoff and punt returns. Ancient Jason Hanson has made 25-of-28 FG attempts, including 3-of-3 from 50 yards and beyond.It’s been a disastrous season for Mason Crosby. The Packers’ placekicker has made just 15-of-24 FG attempts including a putrid 1-of-7 from 50-plus yards. Tim Masthay is a below average punter with a net average of 40.1 yards per kick.
The Lions are one of the most disappointing teams in the league. They continue to blow fourth-quarter leads and that’s why they are not going to be a playoff team this year. The Packers have not played consistently, but they simply never lose to the Lions at home (21 consecutive wins) and they won’t start now.