Despite finding themselves in an 18 point hole at one point in the first half, the Green Bay Packers were able to comeback and defeat the New York Jets 31-24 in Week 2. With the victory, it moved the Packers into a 4 way tie for first in the NFC North as each team has a 1-1 record. Things start getting interested for the Packers as they embark on a tough 3 game conference stretch which starts this week, on the road at Detriot.
As always, this will be a tough, hard fought game featuring 2 teams that want an early edge in the division standings. Detroit is coming off a tough loss at Carolina by a score of 24-7, but they are a completely different team at home which was made more obvious after their 35-14 thrashing of the Giants in Week 1.
As we inch closer to Sunday’s game, here are 5 key’s to a Packers victory over the Lions:
- Silence the home crowd – Anytime the Packers match up with the Lions at the Detriot, the crowd plays a big part of the game, especially early on. Despite the running game having a slower start to the season, it will be very important to getting Eddie Lacy going early and often on Sunday. By doing so, it will both quiet the crowd and set up the play action for Aaron Rodgers and the passing game. Detroit’s defensive line has had a history of making life tough on the Packers and they will hope that this week fields similar results. If the running game gets off to a slow start again this week, the Detroit front line could bring extra pressure to disrupt Rodgers as they’ve done in the past. The Packers defense can play a big roll on keeping the crowd quiet as well by not allowing big plays and keeping the Detroit offense off the field. Detroit will have early momentum as the crowd will be ready to go but some early 3 and outs will keep the crowd quiet and give the offense more opportunties. Scoring early and often will keep the Detroit fans sitting in silence.
- Exploit the Lions weak secondary – In week 2, Green Bay was able to take advantage of the Jets secondary, what most considered to be the weak link of their defense. Heading into week 3, the team may be different but the place to exploit appears to be similar. With Randall Cobb in the slot and Jordy Nelson outside, the Packers should be able to hit some big plays and keep the chains moving through the air. To help make this possible, the offensive line needs to protect Aaron Rodgers so he has time to find the open guys. As seen last week, the offensive line was a little spotty early which lead to the Packers falling behind early (a fumble on the first play didn’t help eithre), but once they were able to shore up the protection, Rodgers was able to find Cobb and Jordy on a regular basis. If Rodgers has time again this week, don’t be surprised if he is able to get similar results.
- Establish the Eddie Lacy early and often – To say that Eddie Lacy has gotten off to a slow start may be a bit of an understatement. Through 2 games this season, Lacy has rushed for 77 yard on 25 carries (3.1 ypc) with zero touchdowns. He has also contributed very little in the passing game as well. If you look at just hard numbers, they aren’t very impressive but when you take into account the teams he went against, the Seahawks and the Jets, they are a little more understandable. The Seahawks don’t allow very many rushing yards period and while the Jets may not be the Seahawks, they are also a traditionally tough team against the run. The Lions have a strong front 4 but if the offensive line can open some holes for Lacy, he will have the ability to do some damage when he gets to the second level and pick up some big yards. Establishing the run will also set up the play action which will help in trying to exploit the Lions secondary as discussed previously. Look for this to be a breakout week for Eddie Lacy as the Packers try and reestablish the running game against Detroit.
- Get pressure on Matthew Stafford – Stafford is considering one of the top passers in the NFL and this year he is off to another strong start. Against the Giants in Week 1, Stafford threw for 346 yards and 2 TDs (both to Calvin Johnson) and averaged 10.8 yards a completion. In Week 2, he took a step back against the strong Carolina defense but still managed to throw for 291 yards and had a TD and INT. There is no doubt that Stafford, when he has time, will look to push the ball down the field and that usually involves Calvin Johnson. Getting pressure on Stafford forces him to hurry up and that usually equals mistakes. Stafford has thrown 19, 17, and 16 interceptions over the past 3 years, so protecting the ball can be an issue. Hurrying him and forcing him to either lock onto Johnson or look elsewhere could be a key to success for the Packers this weekend. There is no doubt that the Packers will provide extra coverage Johnson’s way and if Stafford just heaves it to him, which he is known to do, that could give the Packers some opportunities for turnovers. Stafford and Johnson will get their yards but f Mike Daniels, Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews are able to get pressure on Stafford, there is no doubt the Packers can force some turnovers and set up some scoring opportunities for the offense.
- Win the turnover battle – This could be an added category on a weekly basis but it has extra importance on the road. As it was highlighted above, the Detroit crowd will be looking for every opportunity to be loud and try to swing momentum to the home teams side, one way to avoid that is causing turnovers on defense and avoiding them on offense. If the Packers are able to cause some turnovers, especially early in the game, it could quiet the crowd and give the offense some early chances to put points on the board. Considering the defensive issues of the first few weeks, getting a early lead could be huge if the Packers want to coming away with a victory. Obviously, turning the ball over to Detroits offense could equal a similar results as last Thanksgiving, a game Detroit won 40-10. Giving the Lions a short field with all of their offensive weapons is a sure fire way to fall behind early and with the crowd involved, a tough recipe to come back. Winning the turnover battle isn’t a guaranteed way to win but it will sure go a long way to helping the Packers come away victorious.
Are the Packers guaranteed success by doing all of these keys above, probably not but they can go a long way towards leaving Detroit with a victory. Make sure to check back on Friday for my game prediction and breakdown as well as any other news-worthy items heading into the Packers Week 3 matchup at Detroit.
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