2011 NFL Season Week 12: Green Bay Packers vs Detroit Lions Preview: A Bump In The Road To Perfection?
It’s finally here. The game Packer fans have circled since the Green Bay Packers ‘ season began.
Detroit Lions. Ford Field. Thanksgiving.
As the Packers knocked off opponent after opponent, fans kept glancing nervously at the schedule each week. Now the game is finally here.
Will the dream run continue or does the magic end here? Let’s look at the Lions first.
Key Lions Players
QB Matthew Stafford
This season has left little doubt: when healthy Stafford is the second best quarter in the NFC North. He has put the Lions on track for their first playoff berth in what seems like forever.
Stafford distributes the ball around to his plethora of weapons. While they don’t have the Packers’ depth, it’s still a plenty potent offense with Stafford at the helm.
With his strong arm, Stafford can make all the throws. That said, he still tries to force the ball to his big receivers. The Packers will need to take advantage of that if they want to win tomorrow.
WR Calvin Johnson
Megatron has definitely earned his nickname. Whenever the ball is thrown his direction, he usually comes down with it.
Johnson’s size and overall power are a nightmare for any defender. Given the Packers’ recent struggles with communication in the secondary, Johnson could singlehandedy take over the game.
DT Ndamukong Suh
Dirty player or not, Suh as emerged as one of the best defenders in the league in just his second year. Though he has been warned by Commissioner Roger Goodell for being too rough, Suh still plays with fire.
He is nearly unblockable. He has beat double teams all year and Suh will have Aaron Rodgers on the run most of the day if the offensive line can’t contain him. Rodgers has been getting hit far too often and won’t need the reminder that he suffered a concussion at this stadium last year.
Three matchups to watch
Rodgers vs Stafford
Not since Week One when Drew Brees arrived in Green Bay will anyone have seen an aerial duel like this. It’s fully possible both QBs could combine for over 800 yards. The Lions offense has proven to be one of the few that can seemingly keep pace with the Packers.
Suh vs the Packers offensive line
Rodgers has been hit a lot lately and while it hasn’t thrown him off his torrid pace yet, he hasn’t faced a player like Suh this season.
Thanks to his quick release and mobility, Rodgers can win this battle. That said, his protection has to hold. He cant make plays if he is on the ground before even surveying the field.
Calvin Johnson vs the Packers secondary
If the Packers indeed have communication problems in the secondary, they had better be fixed for this game.
Luckily for the Packers defense, they go up against a fairly lethal unit in the own offense everyday in practice. They should be prepared for what the Lions throw at them.
Johnson likely will try to draw favorable matchups by having Charles Woodson and Tramon Williams line up against someone else. Johnson has lately developed a method of staying quiet in the first half and then coming alive late after letting defenses think they shut them down.
Packers 27 Lions 24 in OT
The Lions have to win this game if they want any shot T the division. A loss would put them four back with five to play which has no margin of error.
The Packers meanwhile will look to avenge the stinker they put up last year when Rodgers suffered his concussion. A win would also likely clinch a playoff berth.
It says here Rodgers has more magic than Stafford as the Packers survive their biggest scare to date in their quest for a perfect season.
Enjoy the game and your Thanksgiving holiday.——————
Kris Burke is a sports writer covering the Green Bay Packers for AllGreenBayPackers.com and WTMJ in Milwaukee. He is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA) and his work has been linked to by sites such as National Football Post and CBSSports.com. Follow @KrisLBurke