Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) during the game against the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving at Ford Field. The Packers won 27-15. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-US PRESSWIRE
By Travis Duncan
Green Bay Packers (6-3) at Detroit Lions (4-5) 12 p.m. FOX (Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver) Ford Field
Series History: Green Bay holds a 91-65-7 all-time record against Detroit, and has won 20 of the last 23 contests.
Last Season: Week 17 Green Bay 45, Detroit 41 Matt Flynn throws 6 TDs and for 480 yards. Jordy Nelson catches 3 TDs and 162 receiving yards. Week 12 Green Bay 27, Detroit 15 Aaron Rodgers throws two touchdowns and Ndamukong Suh is ejected on Thanksgiving.
Favorite: Green Bay by 3
Leading Storylines: Detroit's History with Green Bay stretches back almost nearly the beginnings of the sports itself, but recent history suggests a personal rivalry between the Lions front four and the Packers offensive line and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
In last year's Thanksgiving game, after what many would call a cheap shot on Aaron Rodgers, Detroit defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch lay on top of Aaron Rodgers and said in his best WWF voice, "I got you good real good."
To which Rodgers calmly replied, "You know you're going to get a penalty right?"
The story was relayed by Rodgers on his radio show and via the video below
Ndamukong Suh also was ejected from the game for cheap shot on Evan Dietrich Smith, who ironically will be starting again with the season ending injury to Bryan Bulaga. When asked about the incident this week, Dietrich-Smith was wiser than his counterparts in Chicago earlier this season and refused to give the opponent fuel for their fire. Dietrich Smith simply stated it was in the past and he doesn't think about it much.
Clay Matthews will not play Sunday due to a hamstring injury. Rookie Dezman Moses will likely start in his place. With Charles Woodson also out, and Nick Perry sent to the IR, and a notoriously weak secondary there's no doubt the Packers will concede some points. In the past the bend but don't break at critical junctures has allowed Rodgers and the offense to win the game.
The loss of Bryan Bulaga could be huge. We'll have to see. Perhaps it's hard to get too concerned over the loss of one player when key players like Woodson and Matthews are out, and the fact that the line has played musical chairs before and the Packers have won. But first and foremost Aaron Rodgers health comes first, and all it takes is one devestating blind side hit and Rodgers is on the sideline and Graham Harrell is in. The running game hasn't been there when Bulaga was in, but it could also be affected in his absence.
Jordy Nelson against Lions defensive backs. The Lions have had a ton of injuries in their secondary its unclear if Detroit safeties Louis Delmas and Amari Spievey will play this week but their healthy presence would have a big impact on the game.
Also it remains to be seen to what extent Nelson is fully recovered from his injured right ankle it could be a. Mike McCarthy indicated that Nelson is expected to play Sunday.
The Lions can get pressure on the quarterback as good as anyone, in fact it may hurt them as much as it helps them, as the over pursuit leaves wholes through the middle of the field for both the run and the pass. The Lions secondary is a weakness and lacks depth. Last year Nelson posted 162 yards. Now with the injury to Greg Jennings, this will be Nelson's chance to move the chains and score points once again as the Packers No. 1 receiver.
Calvin Johnson vs Tramon Williams, Packers secondary.
Johnson caught 12 passes for 207 yards at Minnesota in a losing effort, his 12 receptions are a career high. Some of those came against the Vikings after the Lions were trailing by double digits. In a season where perhaps the most prominent if not the best wide receiver is has caught just two touchdowns, the Packers don't want Sunday to be Megatron's big turn around game in the end-zone.
As for covering Johnson, Pro Football Weekly suggests the Packers would deploy a similar strategy they used earlier this season against Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald. Williams would cover Johnson man to man when he lines up outside with help over the top from a safety.
In last year's Week 15 matchup Johnson burned the Packers for 11 catches 244 yards and a touchdown.
“That’s what’s going down on Sunday — me going against Calvin,” Williams said via the Journal Sentinel.
“He’s going to make some plays and I’m going to make some plays. We’ll see who wins the battle in the end.”
Green Bay Injuries:
Out, will not play: WR Greg Jennings (groin, abdomen), LB Clay Matthews (hamstring), S Charles Woodson (collarbone)
Did not practice: DE Mike Neal
Limited in Practice: WR Donald Driver (thumb), RB John Kuhn (hamstring), LB Terrell Manning (shoulder), WR Jordy Nelson (hamstring, foot), TE Andrew Quarless (knee), CB Sam Shields (ankle), TE Ryan Taylor (chest)
Did not practice Wedneday: DE Cliff Avril (back, concussion), S Erik Coleman (eye), S Louis Delmas (knee), CB Chris Houston (ankle), WR Calvin Johnson (knee), S Amari Spievey (concussion), DT Corey Williams (knee)
Limited in practice: K Jason Hanson (left foot), LB Ashlee Palmer (chest), WR Titus Young (knee)
Key Stats: Rodgers has done quite well against Detroit. In 6 starts against the Lions, with at least 15 or more passing attempts he is 6-0 with a 69.7 completion percentage, passing for 16 TDs 1,830 yards and just 3 INTs with a QB rating of 120.2
Quotable: "I'll tell you one thing, Aaron Rodgers ain't no joke..I respect him. I tell him that every time I play him because he gives you so many different looks, and you can't cheat because when you cheat, he'll burn you. I played against a guy Peyton Manning for five years (in the AFC South), and after every game I'd go up to Peyton and (ask), 'How do you do it?' He sees so much, and Rodgers is the same way." Lions linebacker StephenTulloch said via the Free Press.
"Depends on how much information you’re able to steal," Aaron Rodgers on how much a former teammate like Pat Lee can share with his new team the Lions. "
What's on the line?: With a win and a Chicago loss to the 49ers, the Packers can move into a tie for the NFC North division lead. With a Week 2 win against Chicago, at this point the Packers also hold the tie-breaker. A win would also be the fifth straight for this Packers team after a shaky start. A loss for the Lions puts the team's playoff hopes in serious doubt, dropping them to 4-6 on the season-with a rematch against the Packers set for Dec. 9 along with games against top teams like Houston, Atlanta and Chicago.
Prediction Packers 24, Lions 21
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