Originally posted on This Given Sunday  |  Last updated 6/10/12

The Green Bay Packers are widely considered a team that is likely to make a deep playoff run in 2012. Last year, they were the team to beat throughout the season, but they faltered in the playoffs and left everyone involved with a bitter taste in their mouths. The Packers are confident that they can be just as dominant again in 2012, but I'm not so sure lightening will strike twice.

The reason the Packers are going to have such a difficult time getting back to a dominant position in 2012 rests within their own division. The Detroit Lions have built a very explosive team that can keep pace with any team in the league, and they'll be in the discussion for the NFC North title.

The similarities between the Lions and the Packers are numerous. Both teams have potent passing attacks that can put up tons of points in no time at all. The difference is that the Lions haven't reached their plateau point just yet. By that I mean that the Packers, in my mind, aren't getting better and better. The Lions are still making strides.

Defensively, neither team was overly impressive in 2011, but both teams have a lot of potential to improve that unit in 2012. The Lions have one of the most dominant defensive lines in the league, and that's why I give their defense the edge. This is a pass driven league, and if you can get to the quarterback quickly, your secondary doesn't have to work nearly as hard, or effectively, to maintain coverage. The Lions' secondary struggled in 2011, but they'll be able to make a big leap of Suh and Co. can get to the quarterback on consistent basis.

The Packers will be in the playoffs again in 2012, unless Aaron Rodgers sustains some sort of long-term injury *knock on wood.* I'm not sure that the Packers will win the division. The good news for football fans is that we'll get a minimum of two amazing shootouts this season. Matthew Stafford vs. Aaron Rodgers. The Detroit Lions vs. the Green Bay Packers. We've waited far too long for this type of matchup between these teams. Here's to hoping it doesn't disappoint.

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This article first appeared on This Given Sunday and was syndicated with permission.

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