Packers Periscope: Thanksgiving Edition vs. Lions All Green Bay Packers All the Time

The Past: Last time these two teams met was punctuated by All Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson, namely because he was absent from the game; the Lions did a fantastic job covering, deflecting and obfuscating Johnson’s knee injury up to the point that it was pretty evident that the Packers defense thew out their defensive plan right before kick off because many defensive players looked little confused as to what their new roles would be.

But the Lions offense was also left scrambling with quarterback Matthew Stafford doing his best impersonation of Aaron Rodgers, spreading out the ball to 8 different receivers for 262 yards and 1 touchdown, going 25 out of 40 but lacked the big play potential, something that’s almost unheard of since the Stafford-Johnson connection came into being.  Also without Johnson spreading out the defense, Reggie Bush found little room to run, only getting 44 yards on 13 attempts.

The Packers on the other hand were consistent but not flashy; Rodgers passed for 274 yards and one beautiful 83 yard bomb to James Jones while Eddie Lacy just missed out on his first 100 yard game of his career with 99 yards on 23 attempts.  On defense, the Packers managed to record 5 sacks, including 2 from Nick Perry, however Clay Matthews’ 1 sack also resulted in a Bennett fracture to his hand, which he still has to wear a cast for.

Overall, this game wasn’t the typical aerial bombing that has typically characterized Packers-Lions games recently, the Packers hadn’t really found their new balanced identity while the Lions were naturally adjusting to life without Calvin Johnson and it was the much maligned Mason Crosby whostole show, going 5 for 5 with a long completion of 52 yards.  In a game where only two touchdowns were scored by both teams, Crosby’s field goals were the difference.

The Present: The Lions are still perhaps the most inconsistent team in the NFL; they have the talent to easily win the NFC North but can’t get out of their own way when it comes to success.  Last week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have taken over the Lions as the most mismanaged franchise in the NFL (owner siphoning funds for his “other” football team, the MRSA debacle, the mismanagement of Josh Freeman, “going for it” on knee downs etc.) the Lions gave up the opportunity to essentially win the NFC North crown and instead turned the ball over 5 times, including 4 interceptions by Matthew Stafford.  Guess who gave up the other turnover?  None other than former Packers return man Jeremy Ross who luckily didn’t cost his team any points when he fumbled the ball out of bounds.

Against the Packers, the Lions will likely not have to deal with Aaron Rodgers who has a “slim to none” chance of suiting up for the game, which allow the Lions defense to pin their ears back and put pressure on either Scott Tolzein or Matt Flynn as well as crowd the box to keep Eddie Lacy in check.  On offense, a healthy Calvin Johnson is already probably too much for a defense hobbled by injuries to handle but the full compliment of weapons for Matthew Stafford will make this offense truly difficult to match up with.

However not everything is great for the Lions; the Lions are only one place better in terms of passing defense according to Football outsiders, so both teams will be completely susceptible secondaries while the Lions also rank near the bottom of the NFL in terms of special teams efficiency (thank you Jeremy Ross!).  Again, perhaps the biggest weakness of this team is consistency, the Lions have gone from consistently bad (see the Matt Millen era) to consistently inconsistent under Matrin Mayhew and Jim Schwartz and the Lions next big step is to become a mature football team (that doesn’t stomp on anybody) and lets their talent win games instead of trying to intimidate a win out of the other team.

The Future: The Lions are making it harder for themselves but are still probably the favorites to represent the NFC North in the playoffs this year.  However, just how good this team will be in the playoffs and more importantly if they can be consistently successful in the playoffs remains to be seen.  Personally, I do feel like the Lions have the talent to make it deep into the playoffs, but won’t be able to string enough good games together to really be much of a threat to win a Super Bowl.  If this team can find a way to play to their talent consistently, this will be a team to beat in the NFC.

More importantly is what the Lions decide to do during the offseason.  Despite the Lions best efforts, their cap situation is getting worse and worse every year as the team fulfills its contractual obligations to multiple high first round draft picks from the old salary cap era, the most expensive wide receiver in the history of the NFL, newly extended Matthew Stafford and the contractual death sentence that is Ndamukong Suh’s rookie contract.

Due to the perilous salary cap situation that the Lions find themselves in it’s unlikely to be able to field competitive offers to their own players or be active players in free agency, which leaves question marks at the tight end position, with Brandon Pettigrew as an unrestricted free agent and offensive line with right tackle Jason Fox and center Dominic Raiola both heading to unrestricted free agency as well.  The Lions will also have to think about wide receiver Nate Burleson and safety Louis Delamas, whose contracts are coming up next year.


Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s


20 thoughts on “Packers Periscope: Thanksgiving Edition vs. Lions

  1. A tip for a Happy Thanksgiving from ol’ Uncle Savage?

    DVR the game, enjoy your Holiday in whatever form it takes and then when everyone’s gone, invite Jack to come join you and sit your turkey-stuffed self down and with his ready assistance either celebrate or mourn as is revealed and warranted.

    Guaranteed to work either way. But probably not a good idea to plan anything for Friday, and for sure not the best idea if the term ‘deer stand’ is in your near future.

    Now with that little mind-fart out of the way, Happy Thanksgiving to all the Packer brethren who frequent this domain and find a way to keep the fan fires burning no matter what.

  2. I hate to think that we are underdogs going into this game but such is our season. It would be nice to get some impact players back. Timing is everything and we have had a bunch of bad timing this season. Starting with the 49ers or meeting up with a resurging Giants team, we just haven’t been able to count on being in the right place at the right time. Now meeting the healthy Lions on a short week without much time to get Flynn ready or some of our guys back seems to fit the theme of the season.

    We will have 10 days rest after this game. If we don’t win this game, the rest period might as well continue on for six months. Still, we have enough tools to take this game. We will need to put pressure on Stafford and our O-line will need to get Lacy some room – the rest will take care of itself. Go Packers.

    1. You got to take the good with the bad; I’d also say it was timing that let the 2010 Packers win the Superbowl. If Shields or Williams don’t get those last second picks, the Packer might not win against the Eagles or the Bears. If Rodgers doesn’t play maybe the best game of his career against the Falcons, there’s a good chance they lose that one as well. Everyone got to see what happens when the Packers hit a hot streak, now they know what happens when they hit a cold spot.

  3. Your insight into the state of the Lions cap and team management was appreciated. They have talent but they have some big holes and are thin behind a select few. While people rip on TT for not getting more stars, I am glad that we don’t have the pending mess that will hit the Lions. We might be seeing their apex.

    1. The curse of Matt Millen continues to live on with the Lions. Actually this is becoming more of an issue in the NFL since the cap hasn’t risen appreciably in the last couple of years, Pittsburgh and Dallas in particular are going through or are about to go through some tough times because their cap situation is a huge mess. The Lions take the cake, but they’ve made the best of the situation they were in. They had no choice but to extend Johnson and Stafford, and while they probably got more than they deserved, they had leverage and the Lions can’t afford to lose either one of them. Add to that they were forced to fork over so much money on so many top 10 picks (the biggest being Suh, who has had his contract restructured every year at this point) during the old CBA and it’s understandable why they are in so much trouble going forward.

  4. Also, I am curious what you guys think about Josh Sitton’s scumbag comments. Will his proclamation energize our sagging O-line or incite a Lion mauling?

    1. Its the truth, but I would have preferred he kept that to himself. No point in waking the sleeping giant. He might have given the leo’s just the motivation they need to rally together!

      1. The Lions have proven they will play dirty without any provocation, so why not piss the D-Line off and see if you can get a penalty or two? It’s not like the Lions were planning on sitting back with Matt Flynn at QB and now they are going to change their plan and rush him every down.

        1. Didn’t say they needed provocation to play dirty. But no need to give them a rallying point. There’s a huge difference.

    2. Sitton’s right, but I’m not sure it really matters. Even without his statements, both sides will be pumped up to dominate each other. I just hope the Pack’s O-line gets the upper hand.

    3. I trust more in the OL ability to be mature. Tactics…he’s trying already to get a 15 yards after the play. Just a little spark and Ndonkeykong Suh will help us along. Unfortunately, it’s probably a few of those that are needed to help us overcome our injuries and sneak out a win. I wonder how much Sitton’s comments reflect that attitude.

    4. I don’t really think it matters, as a divisional game both the Packers and the Lions know what this game means. If anyone needs a rabble rousing to get ready for this game they might as well retire.

  5. The Lions have dropped two straight to teams they should have beaten where they couldn’t get out of their own way. They are their own worst enemy right now.

    Getting out to an early lead could get the “here we go again” feeling for a Lions team that has struggled to keep momentum going in the past.

    That said, I fully expect the Lions to light it up tomorrow. Hopefully the Packers can keep it competitive, and maybe give themselves an opportunity to steal one.

    1. Getting out to an early lead is probably too much for the Packers to hope for at this point, Eddie Lacy isn’t going to score 3 touchdowns in the first half even as good as he is and Flynn isn’t likely to throw for 3 touchdowns either. I think the best bet for the Packers for this game is to keep it close, hope for a Lions meltdown of some sort and then play keep away till the clock expires.

  6. Obviously Sitton wanted to get under their skin. This “mind game” could cause the Lions to blow their cool during the game.

    As to outcome of game – Lions will crowd LOS to stop Eddie Lacy and I don’t think Flynn’s pop-gun arm is able to take advantage. On the flip side, Reggie and Megatron will be too much for Packer defense to handle on the carpet. With AROD, Pack wins. W/o him, we lose by 18 points. Talk about MVP.

    Lions 35
    Pack 17

    Pack finishes season at 9-6-1.

    At 7-5, Lions still will have to finish 3-1 to overtake Pack for Division crown. While they have lots of home games coming up, they haven’t looked that good recently. This thing is far from over if we lose. On the other hand, a Packer win, would almost assure another North Division crown for the green and gold. Brace yourselves for both Flynn and Tolzein. Tolzein’s vertical passing game matches up much better vs Lions than Flynn’s pop-gun.

    1. From my perspective, Tolzein throws a noticeably prettier ball, especially deep. On the other hand, Flynn throws with a lot more timing and anticipation and really what would you rather have, a long bomb with a tight spiral right into the hands of a defender or a ugly duck that gets to the receiver at the right time and place?

  7. Would love to see schwantz and duh completely lose their minds over sitton’s comments. Controlling themselves emotionally hasn’t been their strong suit. If McCarthy got into it also, it might help facilitate a lions meltdown. Where’s Forrest Gregg when we need him? Acts complete stupidity on the part of the lions tomorrow would sure make my Turkey day.

  8. Act of complete stupidity – sorry. I just had a episode of that! Maybe cracked open the bottle a bit too early. Happy thankgiving to all good packer fans!

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