Behind Enemy Lines: Part 3

Scout.com insiders Bill Huber and Nate Caminata conclude this three-part series previewing Sunday's game by looking at the key matchups and offering their analysis of who will win.

MATCHUPS TO WATCH: PACKERS OFFENSE VS LIONS DEFENSE

Offensive line vs. Lions pass rush. Detroit needs to take advantage of an underperforming Green Bay offensive line, otherwise Aaron Rodgers will disassemble the Lions' makeshift secondary. Look for the Lions to use linebacker Julian Peterson as a pass-rush specialist to force the issue.

TE Jermichael Finley vs. S Louis Delmas. Finley is coming off a monster game against Minnesota two weeks ago, and with teams continuing to focus on receivers Donald Driver and Greg Jennings, Finley should continue to be a difference-maker. The Lions have allowed six touchdown receptions by tight ends already, including two apiece in lopsided losses to the Saints and Bears. The only game in which they kept the tight end out of the end zone was a victory against Washington. Finley won't solely be Delmas' responsibility, but the rookie is a hard hitter and impact player.

LIONS OFFENSE VS PACKERS DEFENSE


Kevin Smith runs past A.J. Hawk
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
RB Kevin Smith vs. Packers linebackers. Smith has had trouble breaking tackles past the line of scrimmage, which has been frustrating to both Smith and the coaching staff. Regardless of who starts at quarterback for Detroit, the Lions need a competent ground attack, and Smith is the team's only capable every-down back.

RT Gosder Cherilus vs. LOLB Aaron Kampman. A lot of the focus during the Packers' bye week was on getting Kampman going. Kampman, with the third-most sacks in the NFL over the last three seasons, has just one in four games since moving to linebacker in the new scheme. Cherilus, the Lions' first-round pick last year, was a teammate of B.J. Raji at Boston College. Raji's scouting report: Cherilus is tall, big, has an enormous reach and blocks to the whistle. The Lions yielded seven sacks last week against Pittsburgh, including 1.5 by left outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley.

GREEN BAY WINS IF ...

... it shows up and plays. On an even setting, the Packers have the better team and they're playing at home. But this is an uneven setting. Green Bay is coming off a bye while the Lions could be without their starting quarterback, superstar wide receiver and most of their starting defensive line. Given those circumstances, this should be the easiest game of the year. Emphasis on "should."

GREEN BAY LOSES IF ...


Aaron Rodgers is hit by Dewayne White last year.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
... it loses the odd battle of the sacks. The Packers have allowed the most sacks in the NFL (20) and have recorded the second-fewest sacks on defense (five). Detroit has allowed the third-most sacks (17) and is in the middle of the pack by recording 10 sacks on defense. Something's got to give, you'd think. If the Lions' defensive line and Gunther Cunningham's blitzes flummox the Packers' struggling offensive line, there could be a major upset.

DETROIT WINS IF ...

 ... it has a balanced offense. The Lions have performed admirably on offense all season, but they've also played it conservative until the fourth quarter. They need large, chunk yardage out of the run department, which will allow offensive coordinator Scott Linehan's deep routes to develop and have potential.

DETROIT LOSES IF ...

 ... it lies down due to injuries. Whether they play or not, Lions receiver Calvin Johnson and QB Matthew Stafford, the cornerstones of the franchise and its two most skilled players, are hurting. The Lions are skidding into next week's bye bruised and battered, and Green Bay just might be another bump on the road en route to a much-needed vacation.

FINAL PREDICTION

Nate Caminata: The Lions could make quite a statement by winning at Lambeau for the first time since 1991, especially considering the team isn't healthy. And while they're getting to a point where this game would be a tossup, we aren't there yet. Green Bay is refreshed after leaving its own bye week, while the Lions are stumbling toward their own. Too many injuries, and not enough depth prevents them from winning this divisional tilt. Packers 17, Lions 14.

Bill Huber: There's no reason for the Packers to be taking this game lightly. They lost their last game. They're not playing anyone of note next week. They're at home. They've had a bye week to solve some of the nagging issues and cure some nagging injuries. And the Lions are wounded, coming off an emotional loss to Pittsburgh and are in desperate need of their bye next week. The Packers are 14-point favorites. It would be an upset if it's that close. Packers 31, Lions 10.


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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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