Lions-Packers Preview

The Detroit Lions are heading to Lambeau Field atop the NFC
North. Guaranteeing they stay there will require them to break
another extensive road losing streak.

Two weeks after winning at Washington for the first time in 21
tries, the Lions will try to snap a 22-game Wisconsin skid against
the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

Nineteen of those losses came at Lambeau while three were played
in Milwaukee. The Lions’ last road win against the Packers was Dec.
15, 1991 in Green Bay, and they’ll look to snap that slide after
ending a nearly 68-year drought at Washington with a 27-20 victory
Sept. 22.

“It’s the same mindset we have every time we play a road game,”
quarterback Matthew Stafford said. “Lambeau’s a tough environment
but it’s no different than any other place.”

This will be a matchup of two of the three NFL teams averaging
at least 400 yards of offense and 30 points.

Stafford and the Lions moved into a tie for first with a 40-32
home win over Chicago on Sunday. Detroit turned in its best rushing
performance of the year, finishing with 159 yards after totaling
112 the previous two weeks.

Reggie Bush had his best game with the Lions, running for 139
yards and a touchdown on 18 carries.

The Packers rank eighth in rush defense at 93.3 yards allowed
per game, though they’re 28th against the pass at 311.0. Stafford’s
top target, Calvin Johnson, has 21 catches and 362 receiving yards
in his last two visits to Green Bay.

The Packers could have starting safety Morgan Burnett back to
help hold the Lions’ offense in check. He missed the first three
games with a hamstring injury.

“They have a very explosive offense,” Burnett said. “They’ve got
a lot of weapons with Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush; they’ve got
(Brandon) Pettigrew at tight end, you’ve got Matthew Stafford at
quarterback. They’ve got weapons, so you’ve got to trust your
defense, trust your technique. You can’t get out of line with
guessing or anything, because they’re a good team.”

Hamstring injuries have left the statuses of linebacker Clay
Matthews and cornerback Casey Hayward uncertain, though Matthews
was back at full speed in practice Thursday and plans to play.

Stafford threw for 242 yards with a touchdown and interception
against the Bears, and he wasn’t asked to do much after the Lions
built a 30-13 halftime lead.

Detroit’s defense forced four turnovers for the second time this
year with an effective pass rush, sacking Jay Cutler three times to
double his season total. The Lions, though, were outscored 16-3 in
the fourth quarter as Cutler threw for two TDs, and rattling Aaron
Rodgers hasn’t been quite as easy for Detroit.

The Packers are 8-1 against the Lions with Rodgers starting,
with the loss coming in a game he was knocked out of Dec. 12,

Green Bay is third in the league with 454.7 yards per game and
second in scoring average at 32.0 points.

Running back Eddie Lacy hopes to have the chance to help sustain
those gaudy numbers. He was at practice early in the week after
being sidelined by a concussion sustained Sept. 15 in a 38-20
victory over Washington.

Without Lacy, however, the Packers have had a 100-yard rusher in
back-to-back games after going the previous 44 without one.

“I’m fully aware of how we’re viewed, but the reality is how our
offense is implemented in practice and how we train, it starts with
the run game,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “Now, the way the games
are played has a lot to do with the trend and the flow of the
football game. Running the football is important.”

James Starks ran for 132 yards against the Redskins and
Johnathan Franklin had 103 on Sept. 22, though Green Bay lost 34-30
at Cincinnati the week before its bye.

Rodgers’ 105.1 passer rating is among the league leaders, but
the Bengals were able to get to him and create mistakes. They
sacked him four times and forced him into two of his three
interceptions this year, while holding him to 244 yards

Rodgers had surpassed 250 passing yards in seven straight games
since the Lions held him to 173 in a 27-20 victory Dec. 9.

The Packers have won nine in a row at home, with Rodgers getting
picked off just four times in that span. Snapping streaks, though,
isn’t the main motivator for Lions coach Jim Schwartz.

“No. 1, it would be our fourth win of the year,” he said. “No.
2, it would make us 3-0 in our division. It would give us another
chance to put a loss on a division opponent. We certainly want to
end the streak (in Wisconsin), but that’s not our rallying cry. Our
rallying cry is ‘Green Bay’ and ‘division game.’ Those are the
things that will mean more to the players.”

Detroit added veteran receiver Kevin Ogletree on Wednesday a day
after he was cut by Tampa Bay. He adds much-needed depth for the
Lions in the absence of No. 2 receiver Nate Burleson, out
indefinitely with a broken left arm.