With the Chicago Bears heading to San Francisco to play the 49ers Sunday the Packers could move into first place in the division with a win over Detroit. It won’t be easy. The Lions are fighting for their playoff lives after getting shellacked by the Vikings last week. It doesn’t help that the Packers are still hurting and likely will be without linebacker Clay Matthews.
The Packers have done well at Ford Field under Mike McCarthy, going 5-1 the last six years. They are 7-3 overall there and the place has been louder for the Packers than the home town Lions more often than not. Packers’ fans take over the stadium, which is why there are Packers’ tailgate parties like this one from ThePackMentality.com.
Of course to hear those cheers the Packers will need to get out to a lead. The Lions’ are actually ranked 10 in the NFL in defense in yards per game. Their problem is they rank 23rd in points per game. Same thing on offense, second in yards per game but 15th in points. Being -4 in turnovers plays a lot into that.
The Packers are 14th in defense and 19 in offense yards but are ninth and tenth, respectively, in scoring. The Packers’ offense has shown signs of life the last four games even without Cedric Benson, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and John Kuhn. The defense so far has not suffered to bad without Charles Woodson, Nick Perry, D.J. Smith, Sam Shields, etc.
What worries me is that this is the week the Lions finally turn yards into points. The Packers’ defense is banged up and the replacements are awfully inexperienced. They should get Shields back, which would help greatly against the explosive passing game of the Lions.
I hope the Packers can keep their newfound running game going as that will keep the Lions’ offense on the bench. If the Packers can do that and finish drives with touchdowns, they should be able to grind out a win.
The Packers have the Bears on the ropes right now and can’t afford to let up. The Packers follow the Lions with the Giants on the road and then have the Vikings and Lions at home before playing the Bears in Chicago. Playoff fortunes may be determined before they even get to Chicago, for better or worse.
Let’s start with one and go from there. I’ll say Packers 34, Lions 28. Confidence is medium-high.