Wk 4 Game Scout: Packers vs. Lions

We have everything you need to know as Green Bay (2-1) hosts Detroit (0-3) on Sunday at Lambeau Field.

Detroit Lions (0-3) at Green Bay Packers (2-1)

Time: Noon.

TV: Fox (Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick, Charissa Thompson).

Keys to the game: The Packers are two-touchdown favorites as much for their offensive potential as the Lions' defensive shortcomings, all of which have been on display early in the season. Lions coach Jim Schwartz has praised the offense for producing yards, not points, but they'll need to tally regularly to keep pace with the Packers. QB Aaron Rodgers lit up the Lions for 706 yards and five touchdowns in two meetings last season. He has been effective even with little threat of a running game since RB Ryan Grant's ankle injury. RB Jahvid Best (toe) is Detroit's top playmaker with five of the team's seven offensive touchdowns. If he's not available, the Packers' pass rushers, headlined by OLB Clay Matthews, can pin back their ears and focus on taking down QB Shaun Hill.

Fast facts: The Lions' 3-40 record since the middle of the 2007 season is the worst 43-game stretch in NFL history, according to STATS. ... Lions WR Calvin Johnson has five TD catches in his last three games vs. Green Bay. ... Packers WR Donald Driver has three straight 100-yard games against the Lions. ... Brandon Jackson, the Packers' leading rusher, is averaging 2.9 yards per carry.

By the numbers: Packers — Offense 12th (rushing 22nd, passing 11th). Defense: Tied for second (rushing 18th, passing third). Lions — Offense: 22nd (rushing 31st, passing 12th). Defense 30th (rushing 32nd, passing 26th).

Inside the Lions


Bill Huber has his three keys to the game, one each for offense, defense and special teams, at Fox Sports Wisconsin.

The Lions gave up 362 yards passing to Jay Cutler, 247 to Michael Vick and 201 to Brett Favre. Start the over-under on Aaron Rodgers' passing yards against the Lions Sunday at 400.

"I was telling my DBs today that this might be one of the best offenses that we face all year," safety Louis Delmas said. "They have a lot of age behind their organization. The quarterback, all the receivers, also the tight end, it's a great outfit and it's going to be tough to stop them. But we put on our pads just like they put on their pads. The best man wins."

Rodgers is 4-0 against the Lions. His passer rating is 121.7. He has completed nearly 70 percent of his passes (68.6). He has passed for over 300 yards in each game with 11 touchdowns and just one interception.

With running back Ryan Grant out for the year, and the Lions' only tangible defensive strength being the front four, Rodgers might put the ball up 50 times.

"Why not?" nickel back Alphonso Smith said. "They have a pretty good tight end and three legitimate receivers. Why wouldn't they throw the ball? But when people pass the ball 50-plus times, or even 40-plus times, that leaves a lot of room for error. A lot of games come down to three, four, five plays. When a team is throwing that high a volume of passes, you hope you make at least three or four plays. No one plays the game perfect. You just have to capitalize on the mistakes that they make."

Say this about the Lions' secondary, whatever they lack in talent or productivity, they make up for in spunk.

"We look at every game that has a great quarterback and great receivers as an opportunity to go in there and show the world that we could be a great defense and a great secondary," Delmas said. "I think this week will be a great test and we could give a great answer to the world that we can compete with the best. And if we do it will shock a lot of people."

The Lions' corners, believe it or not, haven't been awful. They have been beaten in single coverage situations only a few times. The mistakes, and there have been many of these, have come from self-inflicted communication and coverage errors.

"When you've got the guys we have up front, teams are going to attack another place," cornerback Jonathan Wade said. "If you are a cornerback, they're going to come after you. Period. You will win some and you will lose some. That's just the job. A lot of people don't know that and a lot of people don't care. They just see a guy catching the ball on you and they get upset and think you suck. But that's not the case. Your job is to win as many battles as you can."

Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham talks about a light in a cornerback's eyes. If that light goes out, you might as well release him because he's worthless. Cunningham hasn't seen the light even dim in the eyes of his cornerbacks.

"You are looking for a guy that will fight back all the time," he said. "We have a lot of fight. We are playing a lot more aggressively. We're hitting receivers and jamming them at the line of scrimmage and I really like that. We are coming around to playing the way I believe you should play, and that's being really physical."

Game plan

The Packers are a restless and frustrated bunch after a mistake-filled, last-second loss at the Chicago Bears on Monday night, but a visit from their favorite whipping boys should make things right again Sunday.

The Lions won't be at full strength, particularly on offense without quarterback Matthew Stafford and No. 2 receiver Nate Burleson (and running back Jahvid Best limited or out with turf toe), so their 19-game losing streak to the Packers in Wisconsin figures to stay intact.

The Green Bay defense, which has a league-high 13 sacks, should be able to pin its ears back with its variety of pressure packages to get after Shaun Hill with the Lions' run-challenged offense apt to be put into a lot of unfavorable down-and-distance situations. The matchups favor Aaron Rodgers and his receivers to pick apart Detroit vertically. Yet, this is the Packers' best opportunity to cure what has been ailing their Ryan Grant-less running game with the Lions' giving up a league-worst average of 148.7 rushing yards per game.

The Lions' defense should be able to put some heat on Rodgers. The Packers' two offensive tackles (Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher) are aging and banged up, which should allow the defensive ends Kyle Vanden Bosch and Cliff Avril some opportunity to affect the passing game. If that doesn't happen, then Rodgers will do what he usually does against the Lions, throw for 400 yards in a rout.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.


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