No, those are not pieces of sky you see in your front yard. That is to say, the sky is not falling. It makes sense to feel nervous after these two losses; after all, the Packers did fail their two toughest tests of the season to date.
However, at the midway point of the season, they sit at 6-2 and with four straight division games coming up, have a great opportunity to get back on track and take control of the NFC North.
The first of those four division games has the Lions coming to town for a not-so-friendly visit. The Lions haven’t won a game at Lambeau Field since December 15, 1991 and I would be shocked if this was the year they broke that streak.
The Lions have limped to a 1-7 first-half record, which really puts our two straight losses in perspective, especially if you consider that they were both against undefeated teams on the road.
Anyway, let’s get to the football and the specifics of how the Packers will dismantle the Lions on Sunday.
Green Bay Offense vs. Detroit Defense
For the past few years, this was a matchup everyone wanted to see, but the Lions defense has fallen off a cliff this year. No more Ndamukong Suh means no more dominant defensive line. Losing All-Pro linebacker DeAndre Levy to a season ending injury sure hasn’t helped either.
They have struggled with pretty much everything. They don’t get to the quarterback regularly, they don’t stop the run and they don’t have cornerbacks that can shut down a deep group of receivers.
Meanwhile, after six quarters of very poor play offensively, Rodgers and company woke up and had a big second half in Carolina last week. I’m not saying they’re back and will perform like that full time, but if they can carry over that momentum into this game at home against a porous defense, they have a real shot at running up the score on Sunday.
The wildcard for this game is the health of Ty Montgomery. He’s been back at practice this week, and has the element of speed and versatility that this group of receivers has lacked in the past few weeks. In a short time in the NFL, he’s already commended the respect of opposing defenses. His speed, agility and ability to break tackles can make a huge difference.
In short, this matchup is a nightmare for the ailing Lions defense, and a great opportunity for the Packers offense to get back on track and get some momentum going in their favor going into Minnesota next Sunday.
Green Bay Defense vs. Detroit Offense
I’m not sure what to think about this matchup. Neither unit has been particularly impressive. Let’s start with the Lions offense. Matthew Stafford isn’t having his best season, but to be fair he doesn’t exactly have the best talent around him.
Calvin Johnson is showing serious signs of decline. He’s lost a bit of speed and doesn’t get the same separation he used to. He’s also gotten easier to take down. He’s not breaking as many tackles as he used to, and his yards after catch numbers are down. Having said all that, he’s still tall and strong; he still has great hands and can jump over anyone. So, while he’s not what he was, he’s still a dangerous target the Packers have to scheme for.
The offensive line has been, in a word, terrible; far worse than the Packers. Stafford has been sacked 22 times and has been hit a ridiculous 60 times in just 8 games. This is a good opportunity for the Packers to get their pass rush, which has completely disappeared, back on track.
It may be hard to find nice things to say about a 1-7 team, but they do still have weapons on offense. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them put up a healthy amount of yardage and points against this defense, which started the season well, but has completely failed in the past 3-4 games.
What this defense is able to accomplish on Sunday will depend quite a bit on the health of the secondary. If Shields is able to come back and focus on shutting down Calvin Johnson, the defense has a real chance at staying off the field for most of this game.
One random though: Rookie inside linebacker Jake Ryan got his first chance at meaningful defensive snaps on Sunday and did not disappoint. The man has great instincts and a nose for the ball. It seemed like every time a play ended, Ryan was right there in the thick of it. I hope to see his playing time increase as the season goes on, because he passed test number one.
The Packers need to bounce back; they know it better than anyone. Expect them to come out ready to make a statement and beat up on a bad team the way they should.
The Packers will struggle on defense a bit, but will contain the Lions. The offense will have a field day against a poor Lions defense. Packers win 37-17.