Early Bird Breakdown Week 5: Lions @ Packers

Continuing the on-going series of early morning Packer game previews, we first take a quick look back at the last time Green Bay suited up, two weeks ago at Cincinnati:

 The Good: Johnathan Franklin

Green Bay Packers v Cincinnati Bengals

Sure, he did cough it up at the end of the game. Up until that point however, Franklin came in for the injured Starks as the third string back (Eddie Lacy, top of the depth chart, was still recovering from a concussion) and was carrying the team on a day when Rodgers was shaky. He had 13 carries for 103 yards and a touchdown. For those who don’t want to do the math, that is a 7.9 yards-per-carry average, which is insane, especially considering the rookie had not been reported as doing well in practice.

The Bad: Turnovers

Rodgers

It does not take a genius to figure out you probably will lose the game if you turn the ball over four times. I already mentioned Franklin’s fumble, but earlier in the game frustrating returner and now former Packer Jeremy Ross put one on the ground. Rodgers was particularly erratic, throwing two picks and looking off most of the day.

The Ugly: Even more injuries!

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Never have I thought a week four bye week would be a good thing for a team, but Green Bay needed it. Finley got a concussion & Matthews got nicked up, throw in Stark’s injury and the team was beginning to look like duct tape was going to be needed to hold it together.

How I did:

“31-24   victory .”  – that was my prediction for the game. Well, clearly I was wrong in the final, though I was close…for three quarters (it was 30-21 GB after 3 quarters). The game looked ugly to start with, with the Packers falling behind by two scores and Cincinnati looking like it could do nothing wrong. In the second quarter, they came roaring back to take a 16-14 half time lead. The Packers could not close the deal and Franklin’s fumble ultimately lead to a 58 yard touchdown return to give Cincinnati the lead. Then Rodgers got close but the defensive line that rattled him all day blocked two straight passes to ice the game.

Opponent Recap:

Detroit’s offense was clicking on all cylinders at home against Chicago, tying them for first in the division after a 40-32 win in a game that wasn’t that close. Detroit was up 40-16 until 4:00 left when Chicago scored and with time nearly expired scoring again to bring it to 8 after two successful two point conversions. Until the end of the game, the defense looked good too forcing three picks and a fumble from Cutler.

The Breakdown:

Packers Offense vs. Lions Defense:

Green Bay’s offensive line will have trouble against Detroit’s talented front four, but they are used to lining up against them as they play twice a year. Still, they always seem to give the Packers’ line, and by extension Rodgers, fits. Detroit is also the best defense this year on third downs. The Packers are the 18th best in converting them, which places them right below the middle of the league. Green Bay has to play balanced this week, as Detroit has not been particularly stout against the run or the pass (20th & 22nd respectively). Green Bay will need to be very efficient on first and second downs to keep drives going or this could be a long day.

Packers Defense vs. Lions Offense:

Green Bay finally was able to hold an opponent’s top receiver (Cincinnati’s AJ Green) to under 140 yards, which was a problem weeks 1 & 2. In fact, Green was held to only four catches for 46 yards and a touchdown. Part of this was because Andy Dalton had some particularly awful throws, but also partly because Green Bay played better coverage in their last game. This week is the measuring stick for a corner as there is no better receiver in the game than Calvin Johnson. He had over 100 yards in both games last season and will be a matchup problem again this year. Any other year he would be the primary concern, but offseason addition Reggie Bush has been amazing. In four games has 433 total yards (254 rushing / 179 receiving). He has averaged 5.3 yards per carry on the ground and 16.3 through the air. The do-it-all back has done everything Detroit’s needed and has taken advantage of the defense focusing too much on Calvin. Green Bay’s defense will need to stop Bush first because the Lions become very one dimensional (throw it to Calvin!) if he cannot run wild.

The Weather Factor:

Forecast shows scattered early morning showers followed by sunny skies starting around 9:00 am through the day. Should be a beautiful game, which gives a slight edge to the Lions as they are a dome team who like to play in optimal conditions, though the same can be said for Rodgers and the Packers offense.

The Game:

Detroit has played Green Bay tough the last few years, both in Detroit and in Green Bay. I think it should be exciting as the teams both have high octane offenses that are looking balanced as of late. The bye and the home field advantage should be enough to put Green Bay on top in a barn burner, I see the final score Green Bay 41-Detroit 35.

 

 

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