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Packers Travel to Detroit for NFC North Showdown

Written by Jeff Allen of Jeff Allen Sports

With a four way tie atop the NFC North, each division game is crucial as the season progresses. One team for sure will drop out of the lead in what is arguably the toughest division in football, when the Green Bay Packers make the trek to Detroit for a battle with the Lions. The home team is the favorite (-2.5, with a total of 53) in this one, but Green Bay will certainly be ready to play come Sunday. Can the Packers’ dominant offense pull the upset this weekend or will Detroit dismiss Green Bay with a statement win?

What Happened Last Week?

Even in a game where his team couldn’t manage to put up double digits, QB Matt Stafford displayed why he is one of the league’s most dangerous athletes. Stafford threw for 291 yards and 1 TD in the Lions (1-1 straight up, 1-1 against the spread) 24-7 loss to Carolina, pushing the ball downfield on a terrifying Panthers defense. Detroit’s defense was unable to stop QB Cam Newton all game, and will have to work harder this week if they hope to stop the Packers skilled play caller.

In a game that began with a 21-3 Jets lead, Green Bay (1-0 straight up, 0-1-1 against the spread) was able to pull off the win last week, 31-24. Thanks to a third quarter 80 yard touchdown to WR Jordy Nelson, the Packers held New York scoreless in the fourth and escaped heading into week three without a win on their record. QB Aaron Rodgers tossed the rock for 346 yards and 3 TDs last Sunday and hopes to continue his success through the air in Detroit this week. If Rodgers can put up points early on and get his receivers on the same page, we could have ourselves a shootout in the Motor City.

Matchup to Watch

Although it has only been two games so far this season, Detroit heads into this contest with the NFL’s 2nd best rush defense, allowing a paltry 57.5 yards on the ground per game. With Green Bay RB Eddie Lacy still under 100 yards on the year, it could be a rough day running the ball for the green and yellow. Watch for the Lions to continue bottling up opposing half backs, leaving the Packers with less than 100 total rushing yards on the day. If Detroit can hole up the Packers running backs on Sunday, look for Rodgers to force more balls, which means more picks for a hungry Lions secondary.

With so much attention on the aforementioned Nelson, it is WR Randall Cobb who has found the end zone three times this season. With only 97 receiving yards on the year, Cobb is poised for a huge game filled with lots of YAC sometime soon. The question is who will get the upper hand: will it be against Detroit’s stellar pass defense, which ranks among the top 10 in the league with 197.5 yards allowed through the air per game? Watch for Cobb and Nelson to exploit the Lions secondary for the first time this season, each notching at least 75 yards and a TD on Sunday.

X Factor

While we’re talking about receivers, it’s probably a good idea to mention the best wide out in the NFL. WR Calvin Johnson is the X Factor for Detroit, providing Stafford with the best weapon a quarterback could ask for. Johnson has already racked up 247 yards and 2 TDs on the season and will most definitely be a major player in Detroit’s offensive plans this week. Watch for Megatron to burn whichever Packers decide to double team him to the tune of at least 100 yards and a score in Motown.

With far and away the league’s best name, rookie FS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is still waiting to start his first NFL game. Although he hasn’t been on the field for opening kickoff, he has made his presence felt during his limited snaps over the first couple weeks of the season. Look for Clinton-Dix to see more reps against a Green Bay offense that has a tendency to eat defenders alive.

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