In preparation of the Lions game against the Green Bay Packers I sent a few questions over to Ray Rivard, editor of Lombardi Ave, and he was kind enough to take a few minutes to answer my curiosities regarding the Packers.
Zac Snyder: It feels odd to face a division rival for the first time this late in the season. We all know about the Packers’ perfect record but what else would you add to summarize their season so far?
Ray Rivard: It feels VERY odd to be facing the Lions for the first time this late in the season. For years, it seemed like the Packers and Lions faced off within the first couple of games. But that aside, with so much season history already laid down, this will probably be the best face-off in years. As for summarizing the Packers season, there are a couple of areas I’d like to touch. First, the defense – or lack thereof. Heading into this season, the defense seemed to be the Packers’ strong suit. But I think many aren’t giving them the credit for which they are due. Yes, they have been gashed for huge plays and huge yardage all season long. But because the offense has been so productive, the defense has had to play offenses that have looking for instant scores to catch up. Because of that fact, the Packers have continually given up big plays. The good thing is that the offense has so far been able to outscore opponents and the defense seems to continually bend, but not break. They have, week-in and week-out, come up with the big interceptions and the big stops. I don’t see that formula ending anytime soon.
Another factor that has been a surprise this year has been the emergence of Jordy Nelson. He has literally jumped from out of nowhere starting with the Super Bowl last year and continuing into this season. He has nine touchdowns to-date and is challenging Greg Jennings as Aaron Rodgers’ go-to guy. This past Sunday’s game was a perfect example of his value to the team. He just keeps getting open.
ZS: What is the talk between Packers fans about this game with the Lions?
RR: The biggest concern among Packers fans is the Lions defensive line and how they ate up the Packers offensive line in their final game last year. It has got to be a point of emphasis for the team this year. If the Packers line can allow Rodgers enough time to work through his progressions, he will pick apart the Lions defensive backfield. I especially think that TE Jermichael Finley could have a huge day in stretching the field and getting open.
On the flip side, the Packers defense has to pressure Matthew Stafford and make him throw quickly. If Stafford has all kinds of time, he will do the same … pick apart the Packers defensive backfield. Most Packers fans feel this could be a high-scoring affair with the team that has the ball last kicking a field goal to win it.
ZS: Where are the Packers vulnerable and what do the Lions need to do to exploit it?
RR: Clearly, the Packers miss safety Nick Collins. While the Packers have talent on the back end of their defense, overall they are very young. Facing the likes of “Megatron” is going to be a huge challenge for this group. The Lions’ tight ends could also have a big day as the Packers linebackers have had a tough time defending the underneath routes and keeping up with the talented tight ends in the league. Consider what San Diego’s Gates and Tampa Bay’s Winslow did to them this year.
ZS: Is it possible to stop Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense?
RR: I don’t think so. Stopping Rodgers is out of the question. He played badly Sunday and the Packers still put 35 points on the board. The offense is good for at least four scores per game and if the defense pitches in with a score or two, it’s over. However, if the Lions can get pressure on Rodgers and turn third down plays into sacks, it could be a very long day for the Packers offense. The match-up between the Lions defensive front and the Packers offensive line will be worth the price of a ticket to Sunday’s game.
ZS: What do you foresee for this game and what do you think the final score will be?
RR: Like I said above, I see this as a high-scoring affair with both offenses moving at-will. I really feel this could be a game that goes into overtime with the team winning the toss also winning the game.
However, with that said, I like the Packers chances on the road against the Lions. While the defense has been gashed, they are also opportunistic and I feel that might be the difference in this one. If Rodgers stays upright for the majority of the game, the Packers will do enough on defense to offset any offensive lapses.
I see the Packers coming out on top in a brutally fought game – Packers 36 Lions 30.