Packers Key’s to the Game: How to Beat the Lions

Green Bay Packers

The Packers season hasn’t gone as expected as they are sitting at 1-2 after their bye week. Their only win so far has come against the Redskins, a team that is currently at the bottom of most power rankings. The Packers two losses came against the 49ers and Bengals on the road. That was a pair of games everyone knew would be tough, but the hope was that they would be able to win at least one of them. Further complicating matters for the Packers is the fact that both the Bears and Lions have started the year off 3-1, putting them out in front in what looks to be a high powered NFC North. The Lions come to town this week as the Packers try to even up their record, while knocking the Lions down a rung. For that to happen Green Bay needs to focus on these 5 keys:

1. Stop Reggie Bush:

-Most people will say the key is to stop Calvin Johnson, but that just isn’t a realistic goal. A much better goal is to stop Reggie Bush and get pressure on Matt Stafford (see below), if you do those two things  you can slow down Johnson without having to cover him with 3 defenders every play. Bush has become such a dynamic weapon in the Lions offense, that has really opened up their playbook. In addition to his big play ability, just having an effective rushing attack has put the Lions in more 3rd and short situations (or not going to 3rd down as much). That has made it a lot easier to move the ball and to get Johnson single coverage. If the Packers can shut down Bush’s rushing and receiving ability it will really make the Lions one dimensional. Then when the Packers have the Lions in a rough situation on 3rd down or in the red zone, they can worry about stopping Johnson.

 

2. Get Pressure on Matt Stafford:

-As we’ve seen in the past the key to upsetting the Lions is getting pressure on Matt Stafford. When Stafford is under pressure he is prone to force the ball and make a mistake. So far this year the Lions have done a great job of keep Stafford out of pressure and he’s off to a great start this year. The Lions are doing a good job picking up blitzes and really utilizing a quicker passing attack at times to not expose Stafford to pressure as much. The Packers are going to need to respond to a quick passing attack with jamming the receivers and disrupt the timing on the route. If you mix that in with attacking Stafford, you can have some broken plays. Some times it will result in sacks or turnovers, but just having Stafford throw more off target passes will be a big win for this defense.

 

3. Protect Aaron Rodgers:

Courtesy of ICON SMI

Courtesy of ICON SMI

-Rodgers has taken 10 sacks so far in three games and is facing a Lions front four that is extremely active. Detroit has very good tackle play, and their ends can apply consistent pressure as well. It’s a deep unit that they will rotate to get the best match-ups and keep their guys fresh. In addition to the outright sacks the Lions defense is also good at generating a lot of pressure. That has led them to force some critical turnovers so far this season, and could expose the Packers as well. Green Bay will need to use their tight ends and backs to help protect Rodgers in this game, even if it is just to chip the defender coming out in their route. The Packers may try to utilize the quicker passing game that worked so well versus the Redskins more often this week, in an effort to neutralize the pass rush to an extent.

 

4. Establish a running game:

-The Lions are giving up over 100 yards on the ground and the Packers need to take advantage to show some balance to their offense. They will be without James Starks, but rookie Eddie Lacy should be able to get the job done as the primary back this week. They should get Lacy going early and often and wear down this Lions defense.  Though Jonathan Franklin had a costly fumble at the end of the game against the Bengals, he should also get some opportunities this week as well. While Aaron Rodgers can do it alone, adding a quality run game will go a long way to making his life a lot easier.

 

5. Limit Turnovers:

-Turnovers killed the Packers the last game against the Bengals and they can’t afford those issues this week against a high powered offense like Detroit. Against the Bengals the Packers had a 30-14 point lead into the third quarter, but two interceptions by Aaron Rodgers and a fumble by Jonathan Franklin, killed the Packers offense as the Bengals were coming back (and of course the TD off the Fumble return). Green Bay has to be careful, because the Lions defense just made Jay Cutler very turnover prone last week and that cost the Bears the game.


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