FanPost

On Paper: Lions vs. Packers 2.0

Week 14 features the Lions looking to end their division woes against the Green Bay Packers.  Packers are in a dog fight for the NFC North title, while the Lions are one of five teams that have been mathematically eliminated from the playoff hunt.   The two teams played each other tough in Lambeau, but now the Lions will be playing host. The Lions have undoubtedly been better at home and will likely sell this game out, but how do the teams match up at this point in the season?  Read on, my wayward son. 

Lions Pass Offense (8th) vs. Packers Pass Defense (6th)

(Teams in bold were the home team)

Opponent

Opponent's

Passing YPG

Passing Yards vs. Packers

Opponent's

Season QB Rating

QB Rating vs. Packers

Eagles

256.7

199*

98.3

87.7*

Bills

203.9

102

81.2

37.0

Bears

197.4

221

83.1

82.5

Lions

250.3

331

81.6

77.0

Redskins

243.8

357

75.2

75.0

Dolphins

229.9

231

75.8

82.3

Vikings

210.2

212

70.6

50.4

Jets

208.2

256

78.4

43.3

Cowboys

265.9

183

91.9

63.6

Vikings

210.2

208

70.6

51.2

Falcons

233.8

197

91.8

107.9

49ers

206.3

194

75.0

64.4

*Vick+Kolb

The Packers pass defense has allowed teams to surpass season averages in pass yardage in six of twelve games, but have held their opponents below their QB rating average in ten of twelve games.  Looking closer, the Packers have held eight of their opponents under an 80 QB rating, including some really ugly numbers (43.3, 37.0, 50.4, 51.2). In fact, in terms of opponent's QB rating, the Packers rank first overall, holding opponents to a mere 69.6 QB rating on average. 

The Packers also have the fifth most interceptions in the NFL (16) and the third most sacks (35).  Their defense may have taken a hit this week in practice, however, as Michigan native Charles Woodson injured his ankle on Wednesday.  It is still unclear whether he will play on Sunday, but Lions fans are watching the injury report closely, as Woodson has been a Lion-killer in the past.  Even if Woodson does play, his ankle injury is likely to alter his effectiveness, which could be a huge break for the Lions.

Drew Stanton wasn't asked to do much last week, but he played well enough to keep the Lions in the game.  Though he was aided by some big plays from his teammates, he also made a few plays of his own with his feet.  There were some frustratingly inaccurate throws, but, for the most part, Stanton played a safe game.  Unfortunately, with the current state of their defense, the Lions need more than a safe game.  Stanton couldn't lead the Lions to more than three points in the second half despite starting on the Bears' side of the field twice. 

The Detroit passing game continues to be good and they were somewhat effective against the Packers earlier in the season, but I would be absolutely shocked if the Lions managed another turnover-free game, like they did last week.  With Clay Matthews zeroing in on Stanton, and a solid secondary behind him, this could very likely be the week that Stanton truly looks like a third-string quarterback.  Packers +2.

Lions Run Offense (28th) vs. Packers Run Defense (18th)

Opponent

Opponent's

Rushing YPG

Rushing Yards vs. Packers

Opponent's Season Avg YPC

YPC vs. Packers

Eagles

144.0

150

5.2

7.1

Bills

107.9

124

4.4

3.9

Bears

102.9

77

3.9

4.3

Lions

89.0

123

3.7

5.9

Redskins

89.3

51

4.1

2.4

Dolphins

106.6

150

3.8

3.8

Vikings

127.7

196

4.5

5.4

Jets

148.4

119

4.5

4.1

Cowboys

100.0

39

3.9

2.8

Vikings

127.7

93

4.5

5.2

Falcons

124.3

117

4.0

4.3

49ers

109.7

97

4.2

4.4

 

The Packers run defense is average in every sense of the word.  They've held five of twelve opponents below their yards per game average and four below their yards per carry average (with one exactly meeting expectations).  The Packers are 25th in opponents yards per carry (4.5), but they have only allowed six plays of 20 or longer (8th) and one play of 40 or longer (T-10th). 

The Lions had a bit of a resurgence in the running game last week, with Jahvid Best finally breaking out a big run again to help the Lions put up a go-ahead score before the end of the first half.  The Lions totaled 134 yards on 27 carries (5.0 average). 

Looking at the previous matchup, it looks like the Lions may be able to build on this success.  The Lions gained 123 yards for an average of 5.9 in Lambeau earlier this season.  However, the Lions were aided by a ridiculous 40-yards scramble by Shaun Hill.  Of course, Drew Stanton is much more capable of scrambling, but a 40-yard scamper is likely out of the question.  Still, Best ran for a 4.2 average on 12 carries that day, and I'm starting to think there is some hope for this unit.  In an act of blind faith, with some evidence to back myself up, I'm going to give the Lions the slight advantage. Lions +1.  

Packers Pass Offense (6th) vs. Lions Pass Defense (16th)

Opponent

Opponent's Passing YPG Allowed

Passing Yards Allowed vs. Packers

Opponent's Season QB Rating Against

QB Rating Allowed vs. Packers

Eagles

223.1

188

78.6

73.1

Bills

207.2

255

94.4

116.3

Bears

215.4

316

71.1

92.5

Lions

222.6

181

96.3

105.3

Redskins

260.3

293

88.9

75.7

Dolphins

201.2

313

83.5

84.5

Vikings

210.2

295

88.9

84.8

Jets

218.4

170

81.3

59.7

Cowboys

254.1

289

98.4

131.5

Vikings

210.2

301

88.9

141.3

Falcons

246.3

344

88.8

114.5

49ers

223.2

298

91.9

135.1

This isn't going to be fun.  The Packers have surpassed opponents' averages in yardage in nine of twelve games and put up above average QB ratings in eight of twelve games.  The biggest concern, however, is the past four games.  Aaron Rodgers has been lighting it up, as it seems he's finally gotten used to the weapons he has left over from the wave of injuries the team faced earlier in the season.  In the past four games, this is Rodgers' average line: 24-32.5 (74%) for 308 yards, 2.75 TDs and 0 INTs.  That averages out to a 118.5 QB rating. 

To drive the point further home, the Packers are 3rd in overall QB rating, 2nd in yards per attempt, 6th in completion percentage and 7th in plays of 20 or longer.  Surprisingly, the Packers also have cut down on their sacks allowed, and they now sit directly in the middle of the league with 25 allowed, or just over 2 sacks a game. 

The Lions keep creeping closer and closer to an average pass defense in terms of yardage.  However, anyone who has actually watched the Lions over the past couple weeks can attest that the pass defense has been getting worse, if anything.  This is clearly shown when looking at the opposing QB rating.  The Lions are fifth worst in the NFL, allowing a rating of 96.3 on average, and they are also allowing a 10th worst 63.7% of passes to be completed, and are 4th worst in terms of yards per attempt (7.8). 

The news only gets worse when considering the Lions have lost starting cornerback Alphonso Smith for the year and Kyle Vanden Bosch is also lost for the season.  In the previous matchup, the Packers didn't rely much on the pass, but when they did they were more than effective.  Though the Lions picked him off twice, Rodgers still managed to throw for three touchdowns and only five incompletions.  The Packers ran out the last 6:32 seconds of that game thanks to two big pass plays by Rodgers. Packers +3.   

Packers Run Offense (23rd) vs. Lions Run Defense (25th)

Opponent

Opponent's Rushing YPG Allowed

Rushing Yards Allowed vs.

Packers

Opponent's Avg YPC Allowed

YPC Allowed vs. Packers

Eagles

103.0

132

4.1

4.0

Bills

170.9

91

4.7

3.4

Bears

84.9

63

3.7

4.2

Lions

127.4

92

4.6

4.4

Redskins

137.0

157

5.0

9.2

Dolphins

99.6

76

3.7

3.6

Vikings

92.0

84

3.6

3.7

Jets

87.5

81

3.4

3.1

Cowboys

107.8

138

4.2

3.9

Vikings

92.0

91

3.6

3.0

Falcons

98.5

77

4.3

3.3

49ers

101.4

136

3.6

4.0

The Packers have struggled in the run game ever since they lost Ryan Grant in week one against the Eagles.  The Pack are 17th in yards per carry (4.0) and last in rushes of 20 or more (3).  It's worth noting that in seven of twelve games, the Packers have faced a top 10 running defenses.

In the previous matchup, the running game was mildly effective.  Though the Lions held the Packers to only 92 yards, they still gained a respectable 4.4 a carry.  More importantly, on that game-killing final drive of the game, the Packers rushed for 47 yards on nine carries (5.2 average).  This shouldn't be an important matchup, unless the Lions find themselves in the same scenario as last time the two teams met.  Packers +1. 

Turnovers

Green Bay has the 6th best turnover margin in the NFL (9th in takeaways, 5th in giveaways), while the Lions are 12th in turnover margin (9th in takeaways, 16th in giveaways).  The teams are very close in turnovers, with the Packers taking slightly better care of the ball.  Though both teams are good with turnovers, there were seven total turnovers in the previous matchup (Green Bay had 4, the Lions had 3).  I expect this to be a much cleaner game, but with Stanton starting again, I have to give the slight nod to Green Bay.  Packers +0.5.

Special Teams

The Packers are 28th in kick returns and 23rd in punt returns.  The Lions are 1st and 5th respectively.  In coverage, the Packers are 13th in kick returns allowed and 29th in punt coverage.  The Lions coverage ranks 7th in kicks and 26th in punts.  Although neither teams' special teams shined in the previous matchup, the Lions have the clear potential to break out this game.  I expect Stephan Logan to break at least one long play to continue his march towards a (deserved) Pro Bowl appearance. Lions +2.

Penalties

The Packers are 9th in penalties; the Lions are 31st.  I expect Dave Rayner to get penalized for kicking the ball too hard, with his kicking motion being deemed a "non-football act".  He will be fined $100,000 and be forced to apologize to PETA.  Packers +1.

Overall

Not surprisingly, the Packers end up with a +4.5 advantage.  Though the Lions kept it close at Lambeau, the game had the feeling that the Lions were just holding on for dear life until the inevitable happened.  The Lions are beat up with little to play for, while the Packers are in the midst of a heated playoff battle.  It's hard for me to come up with a scenario in which the Lions win this game, but it's equally hard for me to envision a blowout.  Despite all of the injuries, the Lions have proven they can hang with the best of the best, and I no longer consider Green Bay to be one of those teams.  The Packers will be in control for the entire game, but they'll never pull away.  Packers 31 Lions 20. 

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Pride Of Detroit or its writers.

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