We’re back to the Detroit Lions already? It seems like just three weeks ago I was breaking down the key matchups between these same Lions and the Green Bay Packers. That’s because I was. Due to the fate of the 2012 scheduling, the Green Bay Packers ended up with five divisional games in their final seven and didn’t see either the Lions nor the Vikings for the first time until week 11. That means there will be a short time in between each matchup. In the case of this rivalry, it was a mere 21 days.
With not many changes in the game’s key matchups, I’m going to drill down on the top three and spend more time on them.
Packers Offensive Line vs. Lions Defensive Line
No, not an earth shattering proclamation and yes, it’s a repeat from the first matchup. But alas, it’s still a key in this game. Since the last matchup, the Packers are dealing with yet more injuries on the line. Starting guard/tackle T.J. Lang did not participate in practice on Wednesday and Packers head coach Mike McCarthy did not seem too optimistic with his progress early on this week. I don’t expect Lang to play on Sunday which clears the path for rookie undrafted free agent Don Barclay to make his first NFL start at right tackle.
Barclay will be matched up against Lions left defensive end Cliff Avril. Avril has had another solid year for the Lions and has 8.5 sacks on the season. His quick initial burst will immediately test Barclay’s footwork and I expect the Packers offensive game plan to slide some help to that right side. In a one-on-one matchup, I would expect Barclay to struggle. For the football junkies out there, keep an eye on this matchup throughout the game as there will surely be a few mano-a-mano opportunities. This will tell us a lot about what the Packers have in Barclay.
One source that may provide that much-needed assistance to the right side is newly acquired veteran running back Ryan Grant. Grant was signed after it was determined the James Starks would miss quite some time with a knee injury. While not the fleetest of foot, Grant is solid in his pass protection and should provide a boost there. He knows the offense and should be able to step in and contribute right away.