Jclombardi highlights gameday headlines about Packers vs Lions game.
Guest senior writer jclombardi @ http://lombardiave.com
Preview: Keys to game–Packers are two-touchdown favorites as much for their offensive potential as the Lions’ defensive shortcomings. Lions coach Jim Schwartz has praised the offense for producing yards, not points, but they’ll need to tally regularly to keep pace with the Packers. QB Aaron Rodgers has been effective even with little threat of a running game since RB Ryan Grant’s ankle injury. RB Jahvid Best (toe) is Detroit’s top playmaker with five of the team’s seven offensive touchdowns. If he’s not available, the Packers’ pass rushers, headlined by OLB Clay Matthews, can pin back their ears and focus on taking down QB Shaun Hill. Game plan–Packers are a restless and frustrated bunch after a mistake-filled, last-second loss at the Chicago Bears on Monday night, but a visit from their favorite whipping boys should make things right again Sunday. The Lions won’t be at full strength, particularly on offense without quarterback Matthew Stafford and No. 2 receiver Nate Burleson (and running back Jahvid Best limited or out with turf toe), so their 19-game losing streak to the Packers in Wisconsin figures to stay intact. The Green Bay defense, which has a league-high 13 sacks, should be able to pin its ears back with its variety of pressure packages to get after Shaun Hill with the Lions’ run-challenged offense apt to be put into a lot of unfavorable down-and-distance situations. The matchups favor Aaron Rodgers and his receivers to pick apart Detroit vertically. Yet, this is the Packers’ best opportunity to cure what has been ailing their Ryan Grant-less running game with the Lions’ giving up a league-worst average of 148.7 rushing yards per game.
Preview: Things to Watch--Strong Man Rookie DT Ndamukong Suh, the Lions’ strongest defensive lineman, will be matched against RG Josh Sitton, possibly the Packers’ strongest offensive lineman. Making the Start–QB Shaun Hill, the starter for the third straight week in place of injured Matthew Stafford, has never taken a snap against the Packers. Rugged Right side–tackle Chad Clifton and guard Daryn Colledge will be dealing with RE Kyle Vanden Bosch and DT Corey Williams, a former Packer. Revolving door–Lions have been playing musical chairs at linebacker and in the secondary. The right pieces still aren’t in place. “They’re really hurting on the back end,” one personnel man said. “They don’t really have linebackers and secondary. Making plays–assuming RB Jahvid Best isn’t limited too much by a turf toe, he will join WR Calvin Johnson to give Detroit a pair of genuine threats.
Classic vs Quick Touchdown drives: Here’s the thing about the classic, take-what-the-defense-gives-you, 10- to 12-play touchdown drive that so many people associate with offensive dominance: It’s a lot harder to pull off than its shorter, deep-ball influenced relative. Take a look at their scoring drives from a year ago and you’ll find that the shorter the drive, the better odds the Packers had of scoring a touchdown rather than a field goal. It was part of their offensive personality under talented quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his many capable targets to strike quickly. So what happens when a defense starts dictating that it’s going to make you use 10 or 12 plays to get into the end zone? That’s what the Packers are starting to figure out.
Veteran Offensive Tackle Tauscher: Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field will mark Mark Tauscher’s 140th NFL start, including playoffs. It’s fair to say there have been very few among the first 139 like the game he had in Monday night’s 20-17 loss to the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. “I always look at it as, I try not to have any bad plays and I try not to have any penalties,” the Green Bay Packers veteran right tackle said as he stood at his locker earlier in the week. “And I didn’t succeed in that last week. “I just need to play better. I understand that I didn’t have a great game, and obviously I need to play better than I did last week.”