Dom Capers hasn't played a down of football since he was in college 40 years ago, but Green Bay's sage defensive coordinator has been successful in stopping the NFL's most fearsome receiver. Before Capers came to the Packers in 2009, Johnson had 26 catches for 368 yards and five touchdowns in four games against Green Bay. Since Capers' arrival, Johnson has managed just nine receptions for 140 yards and three TDs in three games against the Packers. Johnson has done next to nothing in the last two meetings at Ford Field, with two catches for 10 yards and a touchdown on Thanksgiving in 2009 and one reception for 44 yards last year. Woodson has been Capers' go-to shutdown guy in the past and loves playing near his college stomping grounds in Michigan.
"He's always been an instinctive player that can make a play, but he has a great understanding of how people try to attack him and try to attack their defense," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said of Woodson. "He has a lot of experience, but he's also physically still a good player. He's got great length for a corner. He's always had really good ball skills, and ball awareness, and plays almost like a wide receiver. You combine all those things: great size, ability to play the football – sort of wide receiver skills – and his experience, and you know, he's still the guy. There's not a whole lot that we're going to show him, or anybody can show him that he hasn't seen before."
The surging Williams, however, will get his chance, especially when the Packers are in nickel and the Lions keep Williams on the outside. The 6-foot-5 "Megatron" has a league-high 11 touchdown catches. Williams would be giving away 6 inches but can make up for some of it with his jumping ability. Williams' four interceptions this season have come in the last three games.
Bishop has made some big plays in coverage, including his deflection of a pass to Antonio Gates that resulted in a pick-six by Charlie Peprah against San Diego. Still, quarterbacks have completed 80.4 percent of their passes directed at Bishop with a passer rating of 121.3. While it certainly wasn't all on Bishop, tight ends have demolished the Packers' defense of late. Last week, Kellen Winslow caught nine of 11 targeted passes for 132 yards. In Week 9, Visanthe Shiancoe's only catch covered 33 yards. In the game before the bye, Gates caught eight of 12 targeted passes for 96 yards and a touchdown. In the first matchup against the Vikings, Shiancoe had four catches for 45 yards and a touchdown. Pettigrew ranks fourth among tight ends with 46 catches. Scheffler has just 12 catches but four have gone for touchdowns.
Suh, who had 10 sacks during his incredible rookie season, has three this year, though his combined 30 quarterback pressures (three sacks, four hits, 23 pressures) are tied with Philadelphia's Cullen Jenkins for the NFL lead among defensive tackles, as measured by ProFootballFocus.com. He had his way with the Panthers' Geoff Hangartner last Sunday, with his four combined five quarterback pressures (one hit, four pressures) being his most since the Week 3 game against Minnesota.
This will be a much tougher task. Sitton will be making his 44th straight start, and although he is known as a superior run-blocker, STATS LLC research shows he's only allowed two sacks the past two seasons. They split last year's matchups. In the game at Lambeau Field, Suh recorded a sack but that didn't come against Sitton, who mostly dominated the matchup. In the game at Detroit, Suh returned the favor even while not sacking Rodgers. If the Lions don't get pressure on QB Aaron Rodgers, they aren't going to beat the Packers.
Detroit's effective pressure points will come from all angles with their vaunted defensive front. While Suh will be a load for the interior linemen, the onus is on Bulaga and Newhouse to challenge Avril and Vanden Bosch, the Lions' top pass rushers with six sacks apiece. The Bulaga-Avril encounters will have a Big Ten Conference flavor between the two young and talented players from Iowa and Purdue, respectively. Bulaga hasn't allowed a sack this season and has emerged as arguably the best right tackle in the game. Newhouse, who has been prone to fits of inconsistent play in the five games he's started for injured Chad Clifton, is giving up nearly a decade of pro experience to Vanden Bosch. Vanden Bosch is the type of high-motor player who will be a major challenge for Newhouse, who has given up some plays when not matching his opponent's second and third effort.
"Us upfront, we understand that we have a lot on our shoulders and that's the way we like it -- being able to put a lot of pressure on him and get him off his spot and not let him feel comfortable," Suh said. "I think that's something that really, Minnesota did, and Jared Allen and their defense, and they just ended up having a little bit too many mistakes on their offensive side of the ball and a little bit on defense to why they didn't make that game a lot closer."
Packers TE Jermichael Finley vs. Lions' back seven
Several defenders will get a shot at trying to contain arguably the most dangerous tight end in the league. Outside linebacker Justin Durant is likely to see most of the duty, but outside linebacker DeAndre Levy could be matched up with him in certain packages, safety Louis Delmas will be on him some, and when the Lions are in their nickel defense, cornerback Eric Wright could be on him. Finley has been relatively quiet of late and is coming off a one-catch game against Tampa Bay, though he could be a major weapon if Rodgers doesn't have time to fire the ball downfield.
The Lions will be playing with fire if they try to go one-on-one against him. In their one game last season, Finley caught four of five passes thrown his way for 36 yards and a touchdown.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.