Found October 05, 2013 on
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The Green Bay Packers return to Lambeau Field following their bye week. Waiting for them is a tough division matchup against what appears to be an improved Detroit Lions team. Here are five matchups that will be key in securing a Packers win to pull them back to .500 on the year.
1. Sam Shields vs Calvin Johnson: Johnson, or Megatron as many have liked to call him is where the Lions offense starts and stops. In previous years it has primarily been Tramon Williams shadowing Johnson as the primary cover man. This year that has changed with the emergence of Sam Shields. Shields has already faced a premier receiver in the league, and performed very well against Bengals’ wide receiver A.J. Green. In the Packers last game before the bye Shields limited Green to four catches for 48 yards and one touchdown. The other receivers for the Lions are young and inexperienced. With Nate Burleson out due to an injury, Ryan Broyles and Kris Durham have been left to pick up the slack on the outside to help Johnson out. When Stafford is uncomfortable he looks to Johnson early, and often, limiting him would go a long way to keeping this high powered Detroit offense in check.
2. Reggie Bush vs Dom Capers: The Packers have consistently struggled with running backs similar to Reggie Bush. Darren Sproles, Giovanni Bernard, among others have had big games against the Packers in recent memory. Bush has emerged as a very dangerous weapon for the Lions this season. Bush signed in Detroit this offseason and has proved to be a bargain. Last week against Chicago, Bush totaled over 200 yards of offense and was arguably the best player on the field through the course of the game. Dom Capers has been under fire for what feels like the past two years, and his task this week is far from easy. In the past he could simply double up on Calvin Johnson and force Detroit’s other receivers to beat him. Now, despite their inexperience at the wide receiver position, the Lions have their other weapon in Reggie Bush. Look for the Packers to play a lot more nickel and dime this week as a way to get Bush matched up with defensive backs as opposed to linebackers.
3. Jordy Nelson vs Chris Houston: Early in the week it looked possible that Chris Houston was not going to play due to lingering injuries. Now it looks like he will be good to go, giving the Lions secondary a boost against a potent Packers passing offense. Jordy Nelson has been one of the best receivers in football this season making plays down the field. Houston has been susceptible in the past to allowing big plays down the field, and there is nobody better in the Packers offense at making those plays than Nelson. Look for Aaron Rodgers to test Houston early to see just how well he is feeling. If he is healthy this matchup will be a battle all day. If he is not, look for Nelson to break the Lions backs down the field.
4. Packers interior line vs Ndomakong Suh and Nick Fairley: The Lions defense starts up front. Despite being known for his dirty play Suh remains one of the best and most disruptive defensive linemen in football. Nick Fairley is not too far behind him as he has grown into a force as well. This puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the Packers interior of Josh Sitton, Evan Dietrich-Smith and T.J. Lang. The Lions have holes in their secondary that are able to be exploited, but Suh and Fairley have an ability to ruin games for an opposing offense. The Packers offensive line regressed against the Bengals front two weeks ago, and it has to improve if the Packers want any chance to keep the offense moving. One thing to watch will be the Lions front in terms of stunts. They like to twist their defensive tackles, which could open up running lanes for Eddie Lacy and Johnathan Franklin. If the Packers can run the ball it will slow down that vicious pass rush.
5. Aaron Rodgers vs Louis Delmas: Aaron Rodgers was not himself against the Bengals. A lot has been discussed about his inability to lead a clutch drive in the 4th quarter, but had he played up to his normal standards there would have been no need for one of those drives. That debate is something that can be shelved for another day. The bottom line is the Packers cannot win if their best player does not play well. This week he faces a crafty safety in Louis Delmas. Delmas is the quarterback of the Lions secondary, and he had a big game last week against Jay Cutler. The chess match between Rodgers and Delmas will be something to watch all game, because Delmas is a bit of a risk taker, which can lead to shots down the field if Rodgers has time to take them. Look for Rodgers to rebound this week in a big way as he looks to make amends for the clunker in his previous game.
The Packers kickoff at 12 p.m. tomorrow at Lambeau Field in a game that could be the turning point for the season. If they can win the majority of these matchups it should be a good day for the home crowd.
Jacob Westendorf is a writer at PackersTalk.com.
You can follow Jacob on twitter at
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