The bye week didn't treat us as I had hoped. The mettle of the 2012 Green Bay Packers will be tested in grand fashion. As fans, we expected the team to be healthier for the stretch run. Instead, we found out that Bulaga & Perry were done for the year, there is no timetable set for Jennings & Benson, and the Claymaker is also out. We're banged up. It's time to, once again, display the excellence of the Mike McCarthy/Aaron Rodgers tandem.
Much like in the XLV season, the Irishman is being challenged. McCarthy is forced to rally the troops and fully promote the "next an up" philosophy. Without Matthews & Perry, it will be up to Moses & Walden to carry the load. It'll also require the likes of Raji, Neal, Daniels and Worthy to elevate their pass rush. Without Bulaga, TJ Lang & EDS are thrown into crucial positions with the shift on the OL.
More than ever, the team needs the reigning MVP to play at his best. Without Jennings and with an immensely underperforming J-Mike, Rodgers is carrying a large load on his shoulders. Since the Indianapolis game, he as been brilliant. Cerebral. Accurate. In control. And, due to his play, the Packers are in great position to make a run at the NFC North crown. Without Rodgers' dominance over the last 4 weeks, the Packers might presently be on the outside, looking at ways to put themselves in position to grab a Wild Card berth.
A win against the Lions and we can start to seriously discuss both divisional and wild card situations. A win against Detroit would essentially eliminate the Lions from playoff conversation. A loss at Detroit and the season tenses significantly.
One thing is for certain: these two teams do not like each other. The coaches don't seem to care for one another and, as we saw last Thanksgiving day, the players battling on the line of scrimmage have hatred as well. There won't be much trickery. We know each other. Line 'em up. Punch 'em in the mouth. Leave with victory.
We have Aaron Rodgers on our side. With the exception of the '10 game at Ford Field in which Rodgers got knocked out, in domes, he's been dynamite. We are going to need Rodgers in rhythm or this could be a long day.
It's beyond vital for the Packers to win the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. When Stafford has time, he has elite ability. When you get in his face, he'll make mistakes. He can be rattled. Offensively, simply put, we must protect Rodgers.
Leshoure is an underrated back. He has good hands. He cuts well. He lowers his shoulder, gets low and picks up extra yards.
Calvin Johnson. Keep T-Mon in his face. Burnett over the top. Double him up. T-Mon has to bump him. Consistently.
Go man on Titus Young. Hayward matches well with both Young and Ryan Broyles. Davon House should be able to jam both off of their routes.
Brandon Pettigrew & Tony Scheffler are tough match-ups for AJ Hawk & Brad Jones. I'd like to see Francois getting some playing time.
If Moses struggles to find the QB, I wonder if Zombo will get his first action of the year.
The Lions might have holes in the middle of the secondary with both Spievey & Delmas out with injury. It'd open up the middle of the already poor Lions secondary. Might J-Mike finally have a big day? I imagine McCarthy taking his chances with Nelson deep down the field. He will also try Jones on a double move.
The difference in the game might be special teams. Stefan Logan has had decent games against the Packers, but he's also vulnerable to turning the ball over. Further, expect a big return from Randall Cobb.
Rodgers tops 300 yards and goes for 3 TD's. Nelson, Jones and Finley all score. T-Mon grabs a big pick. It'll be a tight one.
Packers 34. Lions 30.
Go Pack Go!