Early Bird Breakdown Week 13: Packers @ Lions
Happy Thanksgiving all! Welcome to the special holiday edition of Early Bird. Continuing the on-going series of early morning Packer game previews, we first take a quick look back at last week’s contest:

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The Good: Matt Flynn
The quarterback many wanted to see came in to relieve a struggling Scott Tolzien and looked good. Good enough that four quarters of Flynn would probably have been a win. Flynn threw the ball for 218 yards on 21 completions and a touchdown on 36 attempts.

The Bad: The Play calling (specifically the last drive)
Now I do not want to single out coach Mike McCarthy necessarily because maybe Flynn audibled or McCarthy was worried about Flynn’s arm strength, possibly due to elbow concerns, affected play calling. However, the play calling was beyond lackluster. There was no attempt to get anything deep or near the sideline to stop the clock. Short over the middle passes with no help for struggling David Bakhtiari. I’m not an NFL coach by any means, but putting four wide with both sideline receivers on streak patterns and Lacy staying in to block seems like the standard NFL call and with the Vikings defense playing like it was, Green Bay probably doesn’t end in a tie.

The Ugly: Inability to generate turnovers

Christian Ponder had a good game, which is impressive considering he is hurt and is Christian Ponder, someone who does not normally roll out of bed and have a good game. Green Bay continues to not catch balls on defense that hits them in the hands, with only four picks on the year. Green Bay needs turnovers this week to win.

How I did:
“ Green Bay over the Vikings 24-20” – The score was within 8 total points, but I was not right on the winner. Green Bay finished the game in a draw with the Vikings 26-26.

Opponents Recap:
Detroit lost a tough one at home to the Buccaneers who after starting 0-8 have won three straight. Stafford threw four interceptions and is looking for redemption this week. Reggie Bush bounced back from a poor performance the week prior but it was not good enough to win.

The Breakdown:
Packers’ Offense vs. Lions’ Defense:
Rodgers is still a week away but Matt Flynn is back under center and brings more legitimacy to the position, especially to the Lions who remember his last start against them when he set franchise records for touchdowns and yards. Lacy was able to get more running lanes last week after he came in and Flynn brought life to the receivers. The Lions have been very one dimensional on defense, being stout against the run (4th) but torched through the air (28th) leading to the 22nd ranked defense overall. If Matt Flynn can keep Detroit from clogging the box to give Lacy room, Green Bay will score more than a few touchdowns.

Packers’ Defense vs. Lions’ Offense:
While Stafford is coming off of a four-interception game, the Lions still will view this matchup as favorable since Green Bay only has four picks all season. Stafford also plays much better at home, another unfavorable sign. Green Bay was able to generate six sacks last week and maybe that can force Stafford to make bad throws if they apply as much pressure as last week Stafford may throw some picks…or at least passes that hit defenders on the hands or chest. Calvin Johnson is poised for a big day, I cannot see the secondary in its current shape containing him. The goal will be limit Nate Burleson, who coming back from injury last week looked dependable as the number two, and most importantly slow down Reggie Bush. Bush has arguably the second best hands on the team behind Johnson and is an explosive running back. Detroit’s offense runs pretty flat when Bush cannot get into a rhythm, slow him down and unless Johnson has another 300 yard day, Detroit will have trouble stringing first downs. Green Bay’s run defense has slipped from top 5 to 19th in the last few weeks, so slowing Bush will be harder than it sounds.

The Weather Factor:
The weather will be dome-like conditions in Detroit’s dome, perfect playing weather for offenses.

The Game:
While my mind is busy thinking of Turkey, I am going with my gut on this game. Detroit lost a very difficult game last week while Green Bay got good news that Rodgers will be back next week. Green Bay knows if they win this week with Rodgers upcoming return they will probably win the division. This game is as important for Detroit as Green Bay obviously, but with Flynn and Rodgers giving the Packers good signs, I like to think they can go in as underdogs and shock America on Thanksgiving. I see Green Bay winning 31-28 over Detroit .

Fantasy Extra:
Start’em:
Matt Stafford: Four picks last week sunk an otherwise good day. He can’t throw more than two against a team that only has four though, and even throwing one doesn’t seem certain.

Jordy Nelson & Jarrett Boykin: Both still are playing lights out regardless of the quarterback. If Tolzien has to enter for any reason, if you have been following this blog you know how frequent his targets are to these two.

Calvin Johnson: Because worst case he is getting just 120 yards against Green Bay, and that is the absolute worst case.

Nate Burleson: He looked good last week and Green Bay has been getting more and more sloppy against the pass.

Reggie Bush: Green Bay may need to stop him, but it will be tough to completely contain him.

Eddie Lacy: because you know he will get 20+ touches and is first choice in the red zone.

Sit’em:
Defenses: Seriously, the pass defenses for both teams are so poor, both teams could put up a lot of fantasy points.

 

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