Packers-Lions: Game plan, key matchups

Williams vs. Harris; Scott vs. Kampman; Packers O-line vs. Lions D-line

GREEN BAY PACKERS
GAME PLAN:
The Packers will be fighting a short turnaround as the road team, but they'll have incentive to make holiday stuffing out of Detroit. A win would create a four-game separation between Green Bay and the Lions at the top of the NFC North standings, all but rendering the division race over with five games left to play.

With halfback Ryan Grant less than 100 percent because of a sprained ankle, the Packers figure to unleash their lethal, second-ranked passing attack (average of 290.3 yards per game) against Detroit's feeble, 30th-rated pass defense (257.9).

Green Bay has committed only two turnovers in its last four games. Protecting the football will take on added significance, with the Lions' No. 1 in the league for takeaways (30), fumble recoveries (15) and points off takeaways (97).

The Packers defense has relied on its assertive line to generate most of the pressure on the quarterback this season. Coordinator Bob Sanders, though, has good reason to turn up the heat on Jon Kitna so he can't get the ball out to his talented receivers. Kitna has absorbed 40 of the Lions' league-high 43 sacks.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Packers defensive backs vs. Lions receivers

Green Bay caught a break its last time out Sunday when Carolina's Steve Smith was a game-day scratch. Nevertheless, pass coverage left a lot to be desired against a non-threatening cast of receivers.

Al Harris was a leading culprit in Drew Carter going off for five receptions for 132 yards. The same Harris whom Detroit's Roy Williams has propped up in the past as being the best cover man in the business.

The Lions' pass-catching quartet of Williams, Calvin Johnson, Shaun McDonald and Mike Furrey comes in with the edge against an unsteady Green Bay secondary, whose only consistent performer of late has been Charles Woodson (interception in each of the last three games).

Packers interior offensive line vs. Lions DTs Shaun Rogers and Cory Redding
Green Bay draws a formidable inside tandem for the third straight game. As well as guards Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz and center Scott Wells handled Minnesota's Kevin Williams and Pat Williams two games ago, Carolina's Kris Jenkins and Maake Kemoeatu posed problems Sunday. Now, the Packers renew acquaintances for the first time this year with Rogers, who has caused fits in the past with his bull-rush tactics. Rogers has been a cog in the Lions' ball-hawking defense this season, coming up with three fumble recoveries.

DETROIT LIONS
GAME PLAN:
The Lions need to get their offense in gear. They need to run the ball better, after posting yardage totals of minus-18 and 25 the past two weeks. But really, they need to start clicking in the passing game, which is supposed to be their strength. It's going to be difficult against cornerbacks Al Harris and Charles Woodson.

The Lions' defense has stopped the run well, especially at home. Assuming that continues against the Packers, they need to pressure quarterback Brett Favre into mistakes. They might not get sacks, because the ball comes out so quickly, but they need to make him hurry and throw off his back foot. Don't forget how many picks Favre has thrown in his career, and the Lions are tied for second in the NFL in interceptions this season with 15.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Lions RT Jonathan Scott vs. Packers LDE Aaron Kampman

Scott is starting for the second time this season and the sixth time in his NFL career against Kampman, whose nine sacks are tied for third in the league.

Scott replaces the struggling George Foster. He brings good size -- 6-6, 315 -- and athleticism. But he missed the last two games because of a broken thumb and will have barely practiced this week because of the shortened schedule. He doesn't have much experience, and Kampman is a Pro Bowl player.

Lions WR Roy Williams vs. Packers CB Al Harris
Williams, the Lions' No. 1 target has called Harris the No. 1 corner in the NFL. Williams has picked up his production the last two games. He had two touchdown catches at Arizona, and he had 106 receiving yards against the Giants. But he left a lot of plays on the field and made mistakes -- missing sight adjustments and running the wrong routes, most notably.

Harris will test him by pressing him all day. Williams will have to work to get open.


Packer Report Top Stories