I knew it had been a while since Detroit beat Green Bay at Lambeau Field. But I’ll be honest, even though it’s my job to keep up to date on this stuff, I had no idea that the streak was 23 games in a row.
To give you an idea of how long 23 seasons is, Barry Sanders rushed for 87 yards in that game and the Packers closed out the year a miserable (4-12) to finish in fourth place of the old NFC Central.
That year, 1991, Color Me Badd was #2 on the Billboard Charts with ‘I Wanna Sex You Up’ and you had to go to the cinema if you wanted to see City Slickers. I’d have to verify it, but they might still have been renting VCR’s back then…not the tapes, but the actual machine.
Anyhow, my point is that it’s been a long time since the Lions have ousted the Packers at their own stadium. With the NFC North title on the line, it’s worth our while to look at what Detroit will need to do if they wish to host their first home playoff game since 1993.
It goes without saying that these two blokes will need to get involved:
Detroit shut down Aaron Rodgers in a 19-7 shellacking in week 3. What are the chances of a copycat performance?
Detroit smothered Rodgers in their first outing, holding the superstar QB to just 162 yards and a touchdown, but this was a different Packers team back then and their offense has since clicked (and then some).
Today’s Packers don’t score just seven points. They’re ranked second in the NFL with 30.4 per game.
A lot has changed since #12 coined his now famous catch phrase on his morning radio program.
— Terry Lee (@WBAYTerryLee) December 18, 2014
So how do the Lions win?
Detroit is unlikely to hold the No.2 scoring offense to a single touchdown, but this doesn’t mean that the same formula from week 3 won’t show them the way.
It’s just that the offense may need to eke out 21 points or so to complete the job.
Every quarterback, even the greatest ones of all time, struggles to perform with a 300 lb. man in his face and so the defensive coordinator of the Lions, Teryl Austin, will be lining up blitz packages and counting on perhaps the league’s best defensive front to force pressure with just four.
Ndamukong Suh may be a controversial figure, but he’s a bad man in the middle for Detroit. With 8.5 sacks on the season, he’ll be expected to get after Aaron Rodgers and force the Packers into 3rd and long situations by containing Eddie Lacy.
Lacy ripped off a huge touchdown run last week against the Bucs and the Lions can ill afford to allow long scoring jaunts with Rodgers and Jordy Nelson surely wreaking havoc through the air.
If Detroit can hold Rodgers to two scoring throws and a pair of field goals, they’ll have a chance to win, particularly if the NFL’s #1 rushing defense (63.8 YPG) can do its job and keep the Packers’ backs out of the end zone. The Lions have allowed just seven rushing scores all season.
On offense Stafford will be expected to pop big plays with Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate, but to keep Rodgers off the field they’ll also need to control the clock with the running game.
Last week Joique Bell and Reggie Bush combined for 128 total rushing yards on just 20 total carries. The Packers rank in the lower half of the league in run defense (120.5 YPG) so this is a weakness in the green & yellow that the Lions play-callers will look to exploit.
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) December 21, 2014
What are the chances history repeats itself?
Back in ’91 the Lions earned a first-round bye, went on to crush the Cowboys 38-6 in the divisional round and then took a beating of their own in the NFC Championship 41-10 at the hands of the eventual Super Bowl Champion Washington Redskins.
I think it’s safe to say that Detroit fans would love to take a crack at another NFC Championship – but first things first, they’ll have to get the monkey off their back in the frozen tundra before they start worrying about winning playoff games and making their first-ever Super Bowl appearance.
But hey, at least one fan believes:
— Steve Johnson (@Stevej85713) December 23, 2014