Behind Enemy Lines: Part 3

We wrap up our three-part preview of Sunday's game by examining the matchups that will determine who wins and who loses. Can the Lions contain Jermichael Finley? Can the Packers block the Lions' defensive ends? And who wins this Week 4 clash?


TE Jermichael Finley vs. safeties and linebackers

Finley is the focal point of Green Bay's suddenly one-dimensional offense. The athletically imposing Finley has picked up the slack with back-to-back 100-yard receiving games, only the second Packers tight end to do so (Paul Coffman was the first in 1979). Finley leads all tight ends with 271 receiving yards and is tied for the league lead among all pass catchers with seven receptions of 20 or more yards. Detroit did a respectable job of neutralizing Finley last season, holding him to a total of eight catches for 79 yards in the teams' two meetings by getting physical with him as safety Louis Delmas delivered a big hit on a pass over the middle on Thanksgiving Day. The Lions will need a lot of bodies around Finley to keep him from going off a third straight week.

OTs Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher vs. DEs Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch

Neither Clifton nor Tauscher will put last week's game at Chicago on their personal highlight reels. While neither gave up a sack, their inability to consistently hold off the Bears' defensive ends meant Aaron Rodgers had to throw nothing but quick-hitting passes. The Lions don't have a Julius Peppers but Vanden Bosch and Avril are quality players. Avril is the starter at left end and he had a field day with right tackle Allen Barbre last season, with one sack and a career-high seven tackles.


Cornerbacks vs. WR Calvin Johnson

Detroit comes into the game short-handed on offense, especially without quarterback Matthew Stafford, but it possesses a weapon that gives the Lions some hope that they can hang with Green Bay and pull the major upset. Johnson has yet to have a breakout game this season, but he has a history in his short career of busting out against the Packers. Johnson, who missed the Lions' game at Green Bay early last season, caught a touchdown pass in four of the other five meetings since 2007, including two scoring plays in each of his two 100-yard games in 2008. Johnson could draw a lot of Tramon Williams in one-on-one coverage, but Charles Woodson, who typically lines up in the slot, is a security blanket to move outside and keep the 6-foot-5 wideout under wraps.

LB A.J. Hawk vs. TEs Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler

A.J. Hawk
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Without Nate Burleson to take some of the pressure off of Johnson, the Lions have been turning to their superb tight ends. Pettigrew, Detroit's first-round pick in 2009, caught 30 passes last year before tearing his ACL against the Packers on Thanksgiving. Pettigrew is back and is getting help from Scheffler, who caught 120 passes with 10 touchdowns over the last three seasons while with Denver. Pettigrew, Scheffler and Johnson have 14 catches apiece, two off the team lead held by running back Jahvid Best. Hawk, who has been replaced by Brandon Chillar in most passing situations the last couple of years, figures to have full-time duty with Chillar sidelined by a shoulder injury. Desmond Bishop also is an option.


... They play with the smarts and discipline they lacked last week. If they do that, Aaron Rodgers should have a monster day against a defense he's tormented in each of his four starts against the Lions.


... Their offensive line can't handle defensive ends Vanden Bosch and Avril and defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Corey Williams. Detroit has an elite front four that could throw a major wrench into the Packers' game plan if the offensive line isn't at its best.


... They do what they haven't done in their four previous games against Rodgers. Rodgers has thrown just one interception against Detroit. The Lions, who figure to get some pressure on Rodgers, need some big plays by their secondary.


... The Calvin Johnson who dominated the Packers in 2008 doesn't show up. In two games against Green Bay, he caught 15 passes for 231 yards and four touchdowns. Last year? He missed the first game and had just two catches for 10 yards in the second game.


The Packers are a 14-point favorite, which is tied for the biggest spread of the week. So far, the Lions are 0-3 but have lost those games by a combined 22 points. Its record notwithstanding, the Lions are a team on the rise but the Packers are vastly superior at quarterback and at cornerback. Packers 31, Lions 20.

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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at and Facebook under Bill Huber.

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