1:00 PM ET, November 18, 2012
Ford Field, Detroit, MI
Though their bye week seemed to come at a good time, the Green Bay Packers are still plenty banged up.
Far from full strength despite a week off, the Packers can win a fifth straight game Sunday as it visits the Detroit Lions, who can't afford many more disappointments if they plan on returning to the playoffs.
Recent history favors Green Bay, which is 11-1 against the Lions under coach Mike McCarthy.
A string of four consecutive wins has the Packers (6-3) within one game of Chicago for first place in the NFC North. They went into the bye after a 31-17 victory over Arizona on Nov. 4, then McCarthy gave the team the entire week off.
It was sorely needed, with the likes of Greg Jennings and Charles Woodson already injured, not to mention Clay Matthews, Jordy Nelson and Bryan Bulaga all getting hurt against the Cardinals. While Woodson (collarbone) remains sidelined, Bulaga (hip) became the 11th Packer to be placed on injured reserve Monday. Matthews (hamstring) was ruled out for this game and it does not appear Jennings (groin) will return, though Nelson (ankle) practiced Wednesday and could play.
Considering the Packers have already overcome many injuries to bounce back from a 2/3 start, they seem to be in good position to begin the stretch run. Five of their final seven games are against NFC North opponents, with Sunday's game giving them an opportunity for a franchise record ninth straight divisional win.
Rodgers is 6-1 against the Lions with 16 passing TDs compared to four interceptions.
"We've had some adversity early in the season. We've come together, we've taken some heat and it's brought us closer together," Rodgers said.
"We've got a lot of guys who, if we can have back in the mix, we can really take off."
A two-game win streak for the Lions (4-5) came to an end Sunday with a 34-24 loss at Minnesota.
Detroit can take some comfort in five of its final seven games coming at home, but the list of opponents is less than comfortable: Green Bay twice along with Houston, Indianapolis, Arizona, Atlanta, and Chicago. The only team among that group which doesn't have a winning record is the Cardinals.
"We don't have a whole lot of wiggle room for mistakes down the stretch. We have to play our best," coach Jim Schwartz said. "It's life in the NFL. You have to do that all the time."
The Lions' defense is ranked 10th in the league at 329.7 yards per game but was awful when it last faced the Packers. Detroit allowed 550 yards in a 45-41 loss to close the 2011 regular season even though Rodgers didn't play.
Last Sunday's performance might not give the Lions much confidence. They allowed 171 rushing yards to Adrian Peterson, let Christian Ponder complete 24 of 32 passes and watched Minnesota post its highest point total of the season.
"Nick had one of the best games he's played since he's been here, but a lot like the rest of our team, a couple mistakes overshadowed the good things that he did," Schwartz said. "I thought Ndamukong Suh might have played the best game he's played since he's been here."
Green Bay could take advantage of a vulnerable run defense after a surprisingly strong showing against Arizona. The Packers ran for 176 yards, their most since netting 202 against Cleveland on Oct. 25, 2009. They had four players -- Rodgers, Randall Cobb, James Starks and Alex Green -- record at least 25 rushing yards for the first time since 2003.
The Lions lead the league with 307.3 passing yards per game, and Calvin Johnson is coming off his finest performance of the season with 12 catches for 207 yards and a touchdown. But they want to buck a trend of slow starts that has forced them to play from behind and rely so much on that passing attack.
Detroit's first-half scoring differential is minus-23, tied for 27th. They've tied or trailed entering the final period in all but one game this season, but own a plus-28 advantage in the fourth quarter.
Green Bay, which has won 20 of the last 23 meetings with Detroit, is 5-1 after the bye week under McCarthy.
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• Work for balance offensively: The Green Bay Packers lead the league with 26 touchdown passes, but they'll need to be more balanced to get far in the postseason. The Lions were gashed for 189 yards on the ground in their Week 10 loss to the Vikings and have been inconsistent defending the run most of the year. Look for Packers coach Mike McCarthy to work for more balance with conventional downhill power plays and draws between the tackles as well as jet sweeps or a reverse to stretch the perimeter.
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|Avg Points Allowed||20.7||24.6|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||GB|
|Rush Yds Allowed||GB|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Green Bay leads 21-3|
|Jan 1, 2012||GB 45, DET 41|
|Nov 24, 2011||GB 27, @DET 15|
|Dec 12, 2010||GB 3, @DET 7|
|Oct 3, 2010||GB 28, DET 26|
|Nov 26, 2009||GB 34, @DET 12|
|Oct 18, 2009||GB 26, DET 0|
|Dec 28, 2008||GB 31, DET 21|
|Sep 14, 2008||GB 48, @DET 25|
|Dec 30, 2007||GB 34, DET 13|
|Nov 22, 2007||GB 37, @DET 26|
|Dec 17, 2006||GB 17, DET 9|
|Sep 24, 2006||GB 31, @DET 24|
|Dec 11, 2005||GB 16, DET 13|
|Sep 11, 2005||GB 3, @DET 17|
|Dec 12, 2004||GB 16, DET 13|
|Oct 17, 2004||GB 38, @DET 10|
|Nov 27, 2003||GB 14, @DET 22|
|Sep 14, 2003||GB 31, DET 6|
|Nov 10, 2002||GB 40, DET 14|
|Sep 22, 2002||GB 37, @DET 31|
|Nov 22, 2001||GB 29, @DET 27|
|Sep 9, 2001||GB 28, DET 6|
Both the Packers and Lions do a bulk of their passing out of the shotgun. But unlike Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford has been better under center. Stafford's Total QBR under center is 68.3 this season compared to 65.5 from the shotgun. Rodgers' QBR under center is nearly 50 points lower than from the shotgun.[+]
Shotgun Passing - This Season
ESPN Stats & Information