Sunday, December 09, 2012

Packers vs. Lions Preview and Prediction

The streak
The last time the Detroit Lions beat the Green Bay Packers in Wisconsin -- mid-December of 1991 -- Erik Kramer was their quarterback and Mike Tomczak was somehow quarterbacking the Pack. The Packers were playing out a 4-12 season and the Lions were preparing for the playoffs as NFC Central Division champs. Detroit won 21-17. Since then -- over the next 20 years -- the Lions haven't won another game in Wisconsin and have been favored just once.

As a great article by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Bob McGinn points out, "The Packers' 20-game winning streak at home against the Lions is the longest in National Football League regular-season history." Amazing. And the Packers are favored again in tonight's game, by 7 points.

McGinn's article quotes former Packers General Manager, Ron Wolf, as reminding us that during this time span the Packers have had Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers -- both future Hall of Famers -- as the starting QBs. Detroit? Not. That does explain a lot. But still, the ball has to bounce your way sooner or later, right? Yes, but let's not start tonight, OK?

If you want to see my pre-preview of this game I wrote a few days ago, check out my prior post below. Or just click here to take you right there.

The challenges
The Packers will, as has been the case all season, be playing shorthanded with starters on both sides of the ball still out. But they will likely be getting a few folks back, as well, at least for spot duty. The return of WR Greg Jennings (last week) will again take up some of the slack for the missing Jordy Nelson.

The biggest challenge for the Packers will be the same as it was when the two teams met a few weeks ago: the offensive line vs. the Lions' defensive front. Detroit held down the Packers running game so that Rodgers was forced to pass more often, opening up the pass rush for the Lions. The Lions harassed Rodgers for a good part of the last game, even causing a fumble on a sack attempt. The Packers O-line has to step up. Given that undrafted rookie lineman, Don Barclay, will likely be getting the start at right tackle in place of injured T.J. Lang, and that the line will be fending off The Mad Stomper, Ndamukong Suh, it could once again be a long day for Rodgers...unless the Pack can get -- and keep -- its running game going.

To that end, and with RB James Starks being injured yet again, that effort will fall to Alex Green and newly-resigned veteran Ryan Grant. It's also possible that the Packers might try first-year player DuJuan Harris if the rushing game stagnates. He's a bit "undersized" at 5'8" but as has been shown in a few cases -- Barry Sanders (5'8") and Emmitt Smith (5'9") come to mind -- undersized is a relative term.

The bottom line prediction
As noted earlier, I wrote a pre-preview article a few days ago regarding this game, so you can get some further detail there.

The Lions are 4-8, have not won a game in the division, and have nothing to play for other than pride, and finally winning a game in Wisconsin after a generation. The Packers, at 8-4 atop the NFC North, must continue to win in order to control their own destiny.

Tonight's game will, according to forecasts, be cold, not too windy, but with anywhere fom 2-5 inches of snow predicted for the the time of this writing, snow is already falling at Lambeau Field. This may very well mean more relianace on the rushing game or short passing attack. Fans would hope and expect that the "outdoors" Packers would have the advantage over the "indoors" Lions but we need to remember that the Packers haven't had to play in bad weather in quite a while either.

As noted earlier, the Pack is favored by 7 points. The over-under is 49 points, second highest for the weekend's games.

With the weather conditions being iffy at best, this is a game that could turn on turnovers and special teams play...that proverbial bounce of the ball we mentioned at the outset. If it's a close game, as the last game was into the fourth quarter with the Lions leading, anything could happen. But the Packers are the better team. The Packers are at home. The Packers have more to play for. The Packers will win.

I'm calling this one 24-17 Packers.

Go Pack Go!!!

Still time to enter the Sweepstakes!
Larry the Cable Guy is in Green Bay tonight to crank up the official tailgate party. You can check out what he's been up to, and what he will have gotten up to while in Green Bay, at While there, you’ll have the opportunity to embark on an out-of-this-world flavor adventure of your own by entering the Wild American Flavor Sweepstakes. From now until January 7, 2013, enter at for a chance to win trips to three of America’s most flavorful cities, including tickets to some of the country’s biggest sporting events courtesy of new Prilosec OTC Wildberry. One winner will be chosen at random to receive the prize pack, including tickets to the big football game in New Orleans (February 3, 2013), the first big auto race of the year in Daytona Beach (February 24, 2013) and the basketball championship game in Atlanta (April 8, 2013), travel and accommodations (a two-night hotel stay and air transportation for each destination), and one $5,000 check to be used in any of these flavorful cities.

What are you waiting for, Packer fans? Git-R-Done!