It’s only been a few weeks since the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers last met but it feels like the outlook for both teams has changed dramatically since then. The Lions emerged from their do or die three game gauntlet effectively dead while the Packers find themselves tied atop the NFC North with the Bears.
I checked up on the Packers with Ray Rivard, Packers blogger and editor at Lombardi Ave.
1. Do you feel the Packers are in good position for a deep playoff run or could the injuries be too much to overcome?
Ray Rivard: There are three things that will need to take place for the Packers to make a deep playoff run. First, the offensive line cannot take any more injuries. With TJ Lang being the latest casualty, the Packers have reached the bottom of their barrel. RT Don Barkley, who subbed for Lang last week, played well and will probably start this week, but I’m not confident he’s the long-term answer. Secondly, the run game has got to get better. They showed promise last week against the Vikes, but they will be challenged this week by the Lions. It will be interesting to see if newly re-signed RB Ryan Grant still has it. Lastly, the Packers defense has to get back Sam Shields, Clay Matthews and Charles Woodson. Without those guys, the Packers go nowhere.
2. Do Packers fans even care about winning the central division or is all about getting into the playoffs and what you do from there?
RR: It’s very important to win the division. That’s always goal number one. It provides the better seed and gives the team and its fans bragging rights for another year. From there playoff seeding is determined and of course anything’s possible. So, yes it’s very important to win the best division in football.
3. The running game hasn’t been a big part of the Packers offensive attack so will their injury problems there matter or will digging into their running back depth hurt the offense even more?
RR: The Packers coaching staff have been trying desperately to get the running game going, but with mediocre results. Part of that is due to poor blocking on the part of the offensive line. Losing Cedric Benson really hurt. The run game was just beginning to show signs of life when he went down and it never gelled after that. Maybe things will change with Ryan Grant back in the fold.
4. What are you hoping to see from the Packers defense down the stretch?
RR: If they can get Woodson and Matthews back for the stretch run the potential is for good things to happen, but like I said before, the Packers are dead in the water without them.
5. What is your prediction for Sunday night’s game?
RR: I feel the Packers will beat the Lions at home, but it’s going to be another of those ugly wins where they do just enough to get the W.
Packers 23 Lions 16