Lions at Packers: The big matchups

How the Packers will handle Lions receiver Calvin Johnson will be one of the big keys on Sunday. Our experts provide four pivotal matchups for the season finale at Lambeau Field.

Packers CBs Charles Woodson and Al Harris vs. Lions WR Calvin Johnson
The trade of Roy Williams to the Dallas Cowboys after the Packers had their first go-around with Detroit in Week 2 greatly eases the burden Green Bay had in trying to account for the Lions' two talented receivers. Woodson was the primary coverage guy on Johnson in that September meeting, and the results were mixed. Johnson sparked a big second-half comeback that briefly put the Lions ahead and had six catches for 129 yards with two long touchdowns, including one when Woodson lost his gamble of jumping Johnson's route. Woodson had the last laugh, however, with a pair of critical interceptions in the fourth quarter, one that was on an underthrown pass to Johnson and the other intended for Mike Furrey that was returned for a touchdown. The 6-foot-5 Johnson is the tallest receiver the Packers face, so getting physical with him at the line to disrupt the timing of his routes could be an interchangeable two-man job with Woodson and Harris.

Packers RB Ryan Grant vs. Lions LBs Paris Lenon and Ernie Sims
Grant's abysmal start to the season — he didn't have a 100-yard rushing game in the first six weeks — included a season-low 20 yards in 15 carries at Detroit. Grant's touches were limited at that point because he was coming off a hamstring injury that kept him out most of the preseason. The carries and the yards picked up at midseason, but Grant has been in another funk down the stretch with just 67, 39, 56 and 61 yards in four of the last five games. Throw out a 19-carry, 104-yard effort against the Houston Texans on Dec. 7 in the Packers' most recent home game, and Grant's per-rush average during their five-game losing streak is a paltry 2.9 yards. Although Detroit has the worst run defense in the league, allowing an average of 169.5 yards per game, ex-Packer Lenon and Sims, who both have more than 130 tackles, can be disruptive playing downhill and pursuing the football. Grant's struggles of late are partly attributed to his not being able to break tackles on the second level.

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers vs. Lions pass defense
Rodgers made his second NFL start against the Lions on Sept. 14 and looked like the man he replaced, Brett Favre. He went 24-for-38 for 328 yards and three touchdowns. The Packers spread out the Lions' secondary, and now the Lions' secondary is even more thin because of injuries.

Lions RT Gosder Cherilus vs. Green Bay LDE Aaron Kampman
The Lions didn't start Cherilus in the teams' first meeting, using veteran George Foster instead, because they were worried how the rookie would handle Kampman. Foster allowed two sacks. Cherilus replaced him in the second half and held his own. Now, Cherilus will start against Kampman, whose 9.5 sacks rank 12th in the NFL.


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