I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that this is the last time the Pack will be favored by more than two TDs this season. The sacrificial Lions come to Lambeau at the perfect time for the frustrated, angry Packers who have waited six days to get the taste of the Bears loss out of their mouths.
Granted, the Lions are on the uptick. We are in store for years of Rodgers-Stafford duels in the teens-years, but they're not quite there yet. In fact, Stafford won't play for a third straight week as he nurses the shoulder injury inflicted by Julius Peppers in the opener. Journeyman Shaun Hill gets another start, eliminating any real threat of a vertical passing game by Detroit and its talented group of receivers.
The NFL did the Lions no favors in the scheduling department. They will have played all of their division road games after Sunday: the Bears and Vikings have yet to play one. The biggest difference in this team is clearly the defensive line. Prized rookie Ndamokung Suh has met or exceeded all expectations in the first three weeks. Former Packer Corey Williams looks reborn next to him; he was acquired as a free agent. On the ends, head coach Jim Schwartz brought in his former pupil in Tennessee, Kyle Vanden Bosch who plays with a mean streak. On the other side Cliff Avril is quick enough to give Mark Tauscher fits. Though at this point, I might be quick enough to beat Tauscher.
Where the Lions fall off the map is at linebacker and secondary. When quick backs like AP and the Eagles' LeSean McCoy get through the line, there's nothing there to stop them--both backs put up huge numbers. The new CBs are former Falcon Chris Houston and Jonathan Wade--they're below average and their safeties are no better.
In four games against the Lions, Aaron Rodgers is averaging nearly 350 yards passing and three TDs. Expect similar numbers on Sunday. Rodgers and the offense performed well against the Bears. The penalties killed a number of drives and of course the James Jones fumble late killed their chances at a last second victory. This will also be a week to see some type of running game. The Packers should be sitting on a lead and need to play a game where they don't throw 75% of the time as they did on Monday.
Defensively, the Pack will be without Brandon Chillar and Sam Shields. Desmond Bishop should see his first action in passing situations and Brandon Underwood claims the nickel job in his first playing time as he's healed from a shoulder injury suffered in the preseason.
This begins a stretch of three out of four games at Lambeau, where the crowds are friendly, penalties should be at a minimum and victories should be plentiful. With the Dolphins and Vikings to follow, the Lions game should feel like the Bills game: an appetizer course. The Lions won't go down without a fight. Remember, they were one ridiculous NFL rule away from winning in Chicago and they had an early lead at the Metrodome last week.
We'll all be watching Shawn Slocum's special teams units in this game. After two strong performances, the units faltered badly against the Bears and cost the team the game. If special teams and penalties become a weekly concern, this team will not come close to reaching its goals.
The Lions catch the Pack at their orneriest. With no Stafford and a gimpy Jahvid Best, the Lions don't have the firepower to keep up with the Pack. Feels like a 31-14 Packer victory and a 3-1 record at the quarter pole.
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