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How They Match Up
Paul Wezner - LionsFans.com
Let's take an in-depth look at 5 match-ups that will have a serious impact on the game.
- Lions Interior Offensive Line vs. Packers Interior Defensive Line
- Lions Wide Receivers vs. Packers Cornerbacks
- Lions Defensive Ends vs. Packers Offensive Tackles
- Lions Safeties vs. Packers Quarterback Brett Favre
- Lions Punt Return vs. Packers Punt Return Coverage
The Lions Offensive Line is an obvious weak point, but the Packers Defensive Line isn't exactly a steal curtain either. The Packers will line up Gilbert Brown and Jim Flanigan inside, and neither player is solid. Brown is still rusty from not playing football for a season, while Flanigan has never been a shutdown player. Cletidus Hunt, possibly the Packers best Defensive Tackle, is out for the first 4 games of the season after violating the league's substance abuse policy. Santana Dotson is also slowed by a knee injury, which will limit his play. The Packers just traded for Rod Walker to try and add some depth, but he's never been a serious contributor. The Lions interior 3 lineman (LG Stockar McDougle, C Eric Beverly, RG Brendan Stai) need to win the battle between the two groups for the Lions to be able to move the football on the ground.
The Lions receiver's are still learning the West Coast Offense, so the offense will still need some time. However, The Lions top 3 receivers need to be able to make plays against the Packers Corners, namely Tyrone Williams. Mike McKenzie has slowly improved over the past two seasons and looks poised for a breakout season, so Williams will be the guy the Lions have to focus on. Tod McBride will play nickel, which means often times he'll be matched up against one of the Lions big receivers (either Herman Moore or Germane Crowell). McBride is big for a Cornerback (6'1"), but there's a reason he hasn't been able to take the starting spot from Tyrone Williams. If McBride is on Crowell, the Lions will have to look to get Crowell downfield.
The Packers will start two second-year players, LT Chad Clifton and RT Mark Tauscher, at the tackles. The key match-up will be LDE Robert Porcher against Tauscher. Tauscher is in the game because he plays smart, but Porcher has the athletic ability to beat Tauscher. Clifton is the better of the two, and will take on a combination of ends including Tracy Scroggins, Alonzo Spellman and James Hall. With the Lions makeshift secondary, the Lions need the Defensive Line to put pressure on Favre early and often otherwise the Packers receivers will get the best of the Lions Defensive Backs.
Brett Favre is a master at picking apart a team's secondary, partly because he takes risks. The Lions have two backups starting in the Safety positions, FS Lamar Campbell and SS Tommy Bennett. Favre knows Campbell is starting his first ever game at Safety, and that Bennett is still coming off a knee injury. Favre will test these two early, mainly to see what Bennett's athleticism is like and what Campbell's instincts are like.
Everyone knows how dangerous Desmond Howard is when he gets the ball in the open field, and it will be the responsibility of Josh Bidwell to keep the ball out of his hands. Expect a lot of directional kicks that will probably only go for 35-40 yards, but will more than likely near the sideline if not out of bounds, for the exclusive purpose of keeping the ball away from Howard. If the Lions Defensive Backfield can hold up, this will be a close game and 1 big play by Howard could change the game, just like a certain blocked Field Goal did in a certain college game yesterday.
Charlie Batch is taking a new offense into a tough stadium against a solid secondary. Unless the Lions Defensive Line completely dominates the Packers group of Offensive Lineman, the Lions probably are going to be coming home with a conference loss.
Packers 27, Lions 17