The Green Bay Packers’ Week 13 game is against the Detroit Lions. Here’s an early look at that Thursday night game at Ford Field.
Series: The Packers lead 95-67-7 in a series dating to 1930 with a 47-13 victory over the Portsmouth Spartans. Green Bay also is 2-0 in the postseason. The Packers have scored more points against the Lions (3,578) than against any other team and hold a 505-point scoring advantage.
Last time (at Detroit): Detroit has won the last two games at Ford Field, including a 19-7 win on Sept. 21. Green Bay’s defense was tremendous but Detroit’s defense was dominant. The Lions took a 7-0 lead when Don Carey scooped up Eddy Lacy’s fumble and ran 40 yards for a touchdown, then took a 9-7 edge when Lacy was dropped for a safety. The Packers managed 223 yards and their longest play went just 18 yards.
Noteworthy: For all the big-name players on offense, the Lions simply haven’t been productive. After scoring a franchise-record 474 points in 2011, 372 in 2012 and 395 in 2013, the Lions scored just 321 last season. How’s this for perspective: Green Bay scored 318 points in eight home games.
Matthew Stafford had a passer rating of 97.2 in 2011; he’s had ratings of 79.8 in 2012, 84.2 in 2013 and 85.7 in 2014. In 2011, he threw 41 touchdown passes against just 16 interceptions. Since then, however, he’s thrown 71 touchdowns vs. 48 interceptions. Compare that three-year interception total to Aaron Rodgers’ career mark of 57.
It would help if Calvin Johnson returned to glory. In 2011 and 2012, he played in all 32 games and caught 218 passes for 3,645. In 2013 and 204, he missed five games and caught “only” 155 passes for 2,569 yards. It also would help to get a running game. The Lions ranked 28th with 88.9 rushing yards per game and 29th with 3.6 yards per carry. To help in that regard, they got rid of veteran running back Reggie Bush and used their first-round pick on guard Laken Tomlinson and their second-round pick on a Bush clone, Nebraska’s Ameer Abdullah.
12-4, second place, NFC North
Offensive rankings: 22nd in points (20.1 per game). 19th in yards (340.8 per game). 12th in passing (251.9 per game). 28th in rushing (88.9 per game).
Defensive rankings: 3rd in points (17.6 per game). 2nd in yards (300.9 per game). 13th in passing (231.6 per game). 1st in rushing (69.3 per game).
2015 Comings and Goings
Hello: WR Lance Moore, WR Greg Salas, DT Haloti Ngata (trade), CB Josh Wilson, CB Chris Owens, C Manny Ramirez (trade).
Goodbye: DT Ndamukong Suh, DT Nick Fairley, DT C.J. Mosley, DE George Johnson (trade), CB Chris Houston, CB Bill Bentley, FB Jed Collins, RT Corey Hilliard.
Draft: The Lions’ powerful defensive line was gutted in free agency. Nonetheless, they didn’t make it a priority to rebuild the depth chart in the first round. They moved back a handful of picks in the first round to take Duke’s Laken Tomlinson. He’ll step in right away at left guard. Detroit got excellent value with its next three picks. Second-rounder Ameer Abdullah is a younger version of do-it-all running back Reggie Bush, who they sent packing, and fourth-rounder Gabe Wright will help plug the massive holes left on the defensive line. In between, third-rounder Alex Carter provides a physical corner. Fifth-round fullback Michael Burton can block and catch.
2015 Personnel in Focus
Pro Football Focus, that is. PFF has a color-coded rankings system for each team’s 24 “starters,” with the extra player to account for a key substitution package such as a third cornerback or third wide receiver. Green Bay has four blue/elite starters (Rodgers, Cobb, Nelson and Sitton), six dark green/high-quality starters (Lang, Lacy, Hayward, Peppers, Daniels and Matthews), four green/good starters (Linsley, Bulaga, Shields and Burnett), six yellow/average starters (Bakhtiari, Quarless, Kuhn, Hyde, Perry and Clinton-Dix) and four orange/below-average starters (Adams, Guion, Raji and Barrington). The Packers don’t have any starters rated poor and they don’t have any rookies projected to be starters.
The Lions have ...
Blue/elite (1): WR Calvin Johnson.
Dark green/high quality (6): WR Golden Tate, RG Larry Warford, DE Ziggy Ansah, MLB Stephen Tulloch, CB Rashean Mathis, S Glover Quin.
Green/good (7): QB Matthew Stafford, RB Joique Bell, LT Riley Reiff, DT Haloti Ngata, OLB DeAndre Levy, CB Darius Slay, S James Ihedigbo.
Yellow/average (4): WR Lance Moore, RT LaAdrian Waddle, DT Tyrunn Walker, OLB Tahir Whitehead.
Orange/below average (4): TE Brandon Pettigrew, C Travis Swanson, DE Jason Jones, CB Josh Wilson.
Red/Poor (0): None.
Silver/Not enough information (0): None.
Purple/Rookie (2): G Laken Tomlinson, FB Michael Burton.
RB Joique Bell, on his goals: ” I'm going to rush for over 1,200 yards. That's the minimum. If I do less than that, I'll be surprised. I'll be disappointed. Anything more than that, I wouldn't be surprised at all. … My first year here I rushed for a few hundred (yards). Second year, close to (700). Then last year, almost 900. So this next year, I'm just going to jump the gun and say 1,200. That's the minimum.”
RB Ameer Abdullah, on replacing Reggie Bush and wearing his No. 21: "It's a difficult thing to really handle. I feel like in my era of growing up, Reggie Bush was one of the greatest players. So to understand the expectations in Detroit, it's awesome, it's great. But at the same time, it's a happy medium of understanding there's only one Reggie Bush, and I'm trying to make it out to be there's only one Ameer Abdullah."
WR Calvin Johnson: “Turning 30 can be a boundary, it can be a hindrance, if you let it be, if you let age beat you. I just keep working and keep the same mindset that I’ve kept my whole career. It’s grown and gotten better and I just keep on trying to advance.”Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.