Thursday, December 25, 2014
NFL Preview: The Green Bay Packers Vs. The Detroit Lions
On Sunday, the Green Bay Packers will look to put an exclamation mark on the final chapter of the 2014 regular season. The Detroit Lions will travel to Lambeau to do battle on the Frozen Tundra with the NFC North on the line. It always seemed like this matchup would come down to the NFC North title from the beginning of the season. In week 3, the Lions shut the Packers down offense and won 19-7 in what was probably the Packers worst offensive performance this season. The Lions defense ranks second overall, and is much improved as the Packers found out in that week 3 matchup. The Packers will be looking for revenge on Sunday, and this is how they'll exact it.
1. Blitz Matthew Stafford Heavily:
One thing has been for sure this season, and that is that Matthew Stafford is still very mistake prone. During the Packers week 3 loss against the Lions the Packers defense forced 3 Stafford turnovers. Stafford's mistakes seem to become more frequent outdoors and away from home. To force these turnovers the Packers will need to continue their recent success on defense. Last week against the Buccaneers the Packers had a season high 7 sacks. Although that was against a shaky Buccaneers offensive line it was a good confidence builder going into this matchup. Clay Matthews will be the man to watch on Sunday. Since he moved to middle linebacker he has had a Pro Bowl caliber season. It'll be up to him to terrorize Stafford, and get the ball back to his offense.
2. Feed Eddie Lacy:
Over the last two months Eddie Lacy has gotten back into his Pro Bowl form of a season ago. A lot of it has to do with the improved play of the offensive line, and the offense finding a nice balance. Since the bye week Lacy has averaged 5.31 yards a carry, which is good for fourth in the NFL since that time. The temperature should be in the low teens on Sunday so Lacy will need to get his fair share of carries. Games like this are the reason Lacy was drafted. There needs to be a balance found in this game that will extend to the postseason. The Lions stingy run defense held Lacy to 36 yards on 11 carries. That was a different Lacy, and a different Packers offense. Look for the Packers to pound the rock, and the offensive line to open some holes for Lacy as he puts the team on his back this sunday.
3. Shut Down Calvin Johnson:
If the Lions want to come away with a win on Sunday their going to have to find a way to get Calvin Johnson the ball. The Packers must prevent that from occurring, or prevent it from occurring often. There is no way to shut down Johnson completely, but the Packers secondary must contain him. They'll have to double team the Lions biggest weapon, and Sam Shields will have to be involved with shutting down Megatron. The safety duo of Morgan Burnett and Ha-Ha Clinton Dix will have to be on top of their game as well. Johnson has had big games against the Packers before, and the Lions have been unsuccesfful. Sunday he'll be looking to have a championship type performance, but it's up to the secondary to put their signature on the game.
Sunday will mark the Packers first objective on their road to the Super Bowl. It would be essential for them to get a first round bye, and get home-field advantage for at least one post season contest. With a little bit of magic they could clinch home-field advantage throughout, but at the moment that's a long shot. In the end I think the Packers will prevail on Sunday. They've played too well the last couple months to let this game slip away from them.