Game Scout: Lions at Packers

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Vitals

Detroit Lions (1-4) at Green Bay Packers (2-2).

Kickoff: Sunday, noon.

TV: Fox (Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa).

Series: 158th regular-season meeting. Packers lead 86-64-7. Green Bay has dominated the contemporary era of the longest uninterrupted series in the NFL — the teams have met every year since 1932. The Packers have won the last seven encounters and 15 of the past 17 meetings, dating to 2000. Green Bay also hasn't lost to the Lions in Wisconsin in 18 straight games, a streak that began in 1992 and includes one of the division rivals' two postseason matchups. Detroit's last road win against the Packers was 21-17 on Dec. 15, 1991, at Lambeau Field.

Inactive lists

Packers: FB Korey Hall, RB DeShawn Wynn, S Matt Giordano, RT Mark Tauscher, RT Breno Giacomini, C Jason Spitz, DE Jarius Wynn, LB Jeremy Thompson. Scott Wells will start for Spitz at center.

Lions: QB Matthew Stafford, CB Ko Simpson, G Manny Ramirez, RT Jon Jansen, DT Sammie Hill, WR Calvin Johnson, DE Jason Hunter, DE Dewayne White.

That means a lot of lineup changes for Detroit: Daunte Culpepper will start at quarterback for Stafford, Turk McBride and Cliff Avril will start at defensive end for Hunter and White, Landon Cohen will start at defensive tackle for Hill, Dennis Northcutt will start at receiver for Johnson, and Daniel Loper will start at guard for Ramirez.

Keys to the game

Pass protection will be key for both offenses. The Packers figure to get back LT Chad Clifton. QB Aaron Rodgers has been sacked 20 times, and pressure is one of the few things that could prevent him from abusing the Lions' poor secondary. The Lions won't disclose the status of QB Matthew Stafford (knee) until just before kickoff, but he and backup Daunte Culpepper would be vulnerable behind Detroit's line. RB Kevin Smith needs to set up shots downfield as Green Bay's secondary has suffered from communication breakdowns — although Detroit could potentially be without WR Calvin Johnson (knee).

Fast facts

WR Donald Driver has 595 career catches for the Packers, tying him for the franchise record with Sterling Sharpe. ... Green Bay has won the past seven meetings by an average of 11.9 points. ... The Packers rank 14th in offense (22nd rushing, tied for 12th passing) and 18th in defense (20th rushing, 17th passing). Detroit ranks 21st in offense (19th rushing, 16th passing) and 22nd in defense (21st rushing, 27th passing). ... Both teams' red-zone defenses have been horrible. The Packers are tied for last by allowing touchdowns on 75 percent of inside-the-20 possessions while the Lions are 29th by allowing touchdowns 70 percent of the time.

Injury report

Packers: Out — FB Korey Hall (calf); T Mark Tauscher (knee); RB DeShawn Wynn (knee). Questionable — C/G Jason Spitz (back); C Scott Wells (hamstring). Probable — S Atari Bigby (knee); T Chad Clifton (ankle); G Daryn Colledge (knee); RB Brandon Jackson (ankle); DE Cullen Jenkins (ankle); NT Ryan Pickett (hip); LB Brady Poppinga (illness); LB Jeremy Thompson (knee).

Lions: Doubtful — DT Sammie Hill (ankle); DE Jason Hunter (ankle); S Ko Simpson (hamstring). Questionable — FB Jerome Felton (shoulder); TE Casey FitzSimmons (thigh); WR Calvin Johnson (knee); RB Maurice Morris (hip); QB Matthew Stafford (knee); DE Dewayne White (hamstring). Probable — T Gosder Cherilus (shoulder); LB Jordan Dizon (foot); DT Grady Jackson (knee); TE Brandon Pettigrew (hamstring); LB Ernie Sims (shoulder).

Game plan

The 2-2 Packers resume play following their bye, and they must have this game in which they're heavily favored after suffering a critical intradivision setback at the unbeaten Minnesota Vikings before the break. Green Bay's sputtering offense could get well in a hurry. The Lions' defense is ripe for the picking. Detroit ranks last in the league for completion percentage (73.3), touchdown passes (15) and passer rating (119.7). Plus, the Lions don't rush the quarterback very well — they have only 10 sacks. That bodes well for Aaron Rodgers, who has been sacked a league-high 20 times, to finally have time to set up, throw and complete passes. The Lions also aren't stout against the run. So, look for Packers head coach/play caller Mike McCarthy to follow through on a desire to run the ball more and try to get Ryan Grant on track after his lackluster first quarter of the season. Defensively, the Packers don't know whether they'll be matching up against top draft pick Matthew Stafford or Daunte Culpepper at quarterback. Stafford is iffy to play after missing the last game with a knee injury. Green Bay is plenty familiar with Culpepper, a former longtime rival when he was with the Vikings. The 6-4, 260-pound Culpepper is a load, but he's not as nimble on his feet as he once was. As such, the pressure-challenged Packers would do well to take a page out of the Pittsburgh Steelers' 3-4 scheme, which produced seven sacks against Culpepper in the Lions' last game, and blitz him like crazy. Green Bay will have to be wary of letting nemesis receiver Calvin Johnson run open if it puts too many men in the box.


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