The bye has come and gone already, which means the Green Bay Packers have to gear up for a brutal 13-game stretch to close out the regular season.
The Packers needed the off week to regroup from the team’s deflating 34-30 loss in Week 3 against the Cincinnati Bengals as well as to get key players healthy.
Eddie Lacy, Clay Matthews, James Starks and Jermichael Finley missed either the entire game or a decent amount of it with an injury. Matthews is saying he is ready to go and both Lacy and Finley have been cleared to play coming off of concussions. Starks has already been ruled out.
They’re coming back at the perfect time for the Packers as game one of this marathon finish is Green Bay’s first NFC North opponent of the year, the Detroit Lions. Last week, the Lions defeated the previously undefeated Chicago Bears 40-32 at Ford Field to move to 3-1 which gives them the tiebreaker (for now) over Chicago for first place in the NFC North.
The last time we met
The Packers defeated the Lions for the 22nd consecutive time at Lambeau Field last December, winning the game 27-20. The game was tied going into the fourth quarter but the Packers were able to pull away putting the team one win away from an eventual NFC North title.
Aaron Rodgers threw for only 170 yards and his sole touchdown of the game was on the ground (and his career long of 27 yards), but Green Bay got some (literally) big help from its defense after defensive end Mike Daniels scooped up a Matthew Stafford fumble and then ran more than half the length of the field giving the Packers an early 14-0 lead that Detroit never recovered from.
Calvin Johnson chewed up the Green Bay defense for 110 yards but was kept out of the end zone and Matthew Stafford threw for 264 yards. It was a classic “bend but don’t break” game for the Packers defense as they forced the fumble from Stafford as well as an interception.
This week in Detroit
The Packers obviously know Detroit well, but this a much different and arguably much better Lions team than the one Green Bay swept last season.