Detroit Lions (2-11) at Green Bay Packers (5-8)
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
TV: FOX, Ron Pitts, Jesse Palmer, Jay Glazer
SERIES: 147th game between the Lions and Packers in what the Lions call the NFL's longest uninterrupted series. The Packers hold a 78-62-6 edge in the series and have won nine of the last 11 games against Detroit. The Lions have not won or tied at Lambeau Field since Dec. 15, 1991.
2006 RANKINGS: Lions: offense 19th (32nd rush, 6th pass); defense 24th (23rd rush, 21st pass). Packers: offense 9th (20th rush, 9th pass); defense 29th (17th rush, 28th pass)
PREDICTION: Packers 24-21
KEYS TO THE GAME: The Packers allowed eight pass plays of at least 15 yards in the first meeting, and their secondary can expect to come under even more fire with the Lions losing RB Kevin Jones for the season. Detroit will likely spread the field and put the game into the hands of QB Jon Kitna, who is amassing big statistics but also struggling with turnovers. They key will be how the offensive line holds up because most of Kitna's errors come while trying to force plays while under pressure. Green Bay will attempt to be far more balanced offensively, especially considering its youth on the offensive line. If RB Ahman Green is productive early on, QB Brett Favre could be in for a huge day because the Lions don't have anyone who can put heat on the passer consistently.
FAST FACTS: Lions: Kitna is on pace for 4,288 passing yards, which would be second in franchise history (Scott Mitchell, 4,338 in 1995). ... DT Corey Redding has 5.5 sacks in his past five games. Packers: Green needs 238 rushing yards to pass Jim Taylor (8,207) as the franchise's all-time rushing leader. ... WR Donald Driver joined James Lofton, Sterling Sharpe and Antonio Freeman as the only players in franchise history with three consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons.
INSIDE THE CAMPS
Five months ago, it was anybody's guess whether Terrence Holt would even have a starting job with the Lions.
The team had taken Daniel Bullocks, a highly-regarded safety out of Nebraska, in the second round of the draft, and there was speculation the rookie would win the starting free safety job that Holt had won -- pretty much by default -- a year earlier.
Bullocks came, he competed and he has gotten considerable playing time, but much of it has been at the strong safety position or in nickel situations. Holt not only retained the free safety job, but he is leading the Lions in interceptions (three) and is among the defense's leading tacklers with 66.
And there is speculation now that Holt will be one of the players the Lions target for re-signing when he becomes a free agent at the end of the season.
"All I'm trying to do is go out here and play every game, put my best effort forward and try to help us get a win," he said. "I know my situation, individually, I want to put together a great year and keep doing the things I've been able to do and, most importantly, stay healthy while doing it."
Holt said he was aware of the talk that Bullocks would be given the opportunity to win the free safety job. However, he said he couldn't let it affect him or become a distraction from what he knew he had to do to be successful in his fourth NFL season.
"I think I've done some things that may have been questioned -- from a tackling standpoint -- as far as being physical," Holt said. "That was definitely something that I knew I needed to work on in the offseason and wanted to work on and try to be more physical and make more plays.
"I think I've been able to do that, for the most part. Not enough in some situations for us to win, but I'll continue to work on that, try to get that."
Holt and his brother Torry, the Pro Bowl wide receiver of the Rams, have long talked about playing together in the NFL. And Holt says they still entertain the idea, but he has no interest in leaving the Lions in his first shot at free agency next spring.
"I would rather be a part of this rebuilding," he said. "I think we're so close,
and to go somewhere else and then see things click (with the Lions) like I know
they're going to click would be just devastating."
Right tackle Mark Tauscher appears poised to play again before the end of the season.
All but written off because of a serious groin injury he sustained toward the end of the 23-17 win at Minnesota on Nov. 12, the seventh-year starter returned to practice Thursday.
Tauscher was eased back in, taking part in individual drills and lining up with the scout team during team segments.
Following practice, Tauscher was upgraded from doubtful to questionable for Sunday's game against Detroit at Lambeau Field. Tauscher is expected to get more work in practice Friday before a final determination is made about his status.
In all likelihood, the team will err on the side of caution and keep Tauscher out a fifth consecutive game but aim to have him ready for the subsequent Thursday contest against Minnesota.
Coach Mike McCarthy, who doesn't meet with reporters on Thursdays, expressed optimism early in the week that Tauscher would be available for the season's penultimate game next week.
The offense has felt the prolonged absence of Tauscher. Rookie replacement Tony Moll has been inconsistent both as a run blocker and in pass protection.
The Packers were held to 44 and 51 rushing yards by New England and Seattle, respectively, the first two games without Tauscher. The output picked up the last two outings with 149 and 139 yards against the Jets and 49ers.
Lead back Ahman Green, though, has managed only one 100-yard game and averaged just 62.8 yards per game with Tauscher sidelined. In defense of Green and the Tauscher-less line, circumstances limited him to 12, 14 and 14 carries those first three games -- all substantial losses for Green Bay -- before he had 21 carries for 77 yards in an 11-point win at San Francisco last Sunday.
"We've tried the past few games to get more balance (between the run and the pass). Last game, we were a little more successful with that," center Scott Wells said.
With Tauscher in the lineup, the Packers had one of their more feeble rushing efforts in Week 3 against Detroit, which held them to 60 yards and Green to a paltry average of 2.9 yards in 22 carries.
Those numbers figure to go up in the division rivals' rematch Sunday at Green Bay. The Lions are without their feared plugger in the middle of the defensive line, Shaun Rogers, who is on injured reserve because of complications from knee surgery. Detroit has allowed more than 160 rushing yards in five of the seven games minus its All-Pro tackle.
The Packers aren't counting oodles of yards on the ground before they've been generated, however.
"They've had some experience with (Rogers) out earlier in the year, so guys have
stepped in and had to play that position. It's not like we're going against some
green guys that have never played," Wells said. "They still have an excellent
defense, and we still have to go out there and execute our fundamentals."