Week 14: Lions-Packers preview

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange


Detroit at Green Bay
Sunday, 8:20 p.m. ET, at Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wis. - TV: NBC
*TV announcers: Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya
*Keys to the game: Injuries have turned the wide receiver depth chart into a carousel for the Packers and accelerated the use of the running game. With WRs Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings in and out of the lineup, the Packers rotated through the likes of Jarrett Boykin, an undrafted rookie free agent from Virginia Tech. QB Aaron Rodgers will have wide alleys to throw through against the Lions, who have allowed 21 touchdown passes and an average of 31.75 points during their four-game losing streak. Putting up points is what the Lions do best. WR Calvin Johnson is in the midst of a dominant streak over the past five games -- 45 catches for 790 yards and four touchdowns -- including five catches for 143 yards and a touchdown against the Packers on Nov. 18. But he cannot do it alone, and WR Ryan Broyles (right knee) couldn't finish last week's game. The Packers sacked Matt Stafford five times in the 24-20 win over Detroit last month, and won with 10-fourth quarter points. Keeping the running game going is the only route to survival for the Lions. Joique Bell has become a ready change-of-pace to Mikel Leshoure.
*Matchup to watch - Packers interior offensive line vs. Lions DTs Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley: The tandem overwhelmed the Colts last week, when Suh had four tackles for loss, and his effectiveness has spiked just as Fairley raised his level of play. Suh has 11 QB hits in the past two games, according to team statistics.
*Player spotlight - Jennings: Eased into the game plan last week in his first action since Sept. 30, Jennings gets his workload accelerated with Nelson (hamstring) ailing, and along with James Jones and Randall Cobb gives Rodgers top-tier talent in Green Bay's three-wide receiver sets.
*Fast facts: Johnson is the first player in NFL history with 140-plus receiving yards in four consecutive games played in the same season. ... Rodgers has thrown a touchdown pass in 35 consecutive games at Lambeau Field.
WHO WILL WIN AND WHY
The Lions know the Packers' personnel well enough to pose a threat, but recent history of letdowns in the second half remains at burden while battling QB Aaron Rodgers, who has completed more than 70 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns in the past two meetings.
*Our pick: Packers 33-24