GreenBay Packer Nation

Will The 4th Quarter Belong to the Packers or Lions?

The Packers have at times struggled to put together 4 quarters of football in all three phases of the game. The Lions have lived on fourth quarter comebacks this year, compiling 8 and proving that they are a team that is not to be counted out at any point in a game. The final game of the season has been deciding the NFC North since the NFL decided to make every week 17 matchup a division rivalry game and Sunday night’s contest will be no different.

Aaron Rodgers is playing lights out football and the Packers’ defense is getting healthier. But in the last two games since the Seahawks game in which the Packers’ defense only gave up 7 points, the Packers have given up 17 to the Bears and 12 points to the Vikings respectively. The fact that the road to the NFC North title goes through Detroit makes the fourth quarter of play in this week 17 matchup a concern. How do the Packers secure a win?

1. Keep the turnovers coming

The Packers have come on of late in the turnover department, going from just breaking even to landing heavily in the plus column since the turnaround game against the Seahawks. If they don’t want this game to come down to “who has the ball last” then they need to keep the turnovers coming. The safety duo of Morgan Burnette and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has been a stalwart this season, with Ha Ha getting his first pro bowl nod, but the cornerbacks have struggled to stay healthy and have had some inconsistent play at times.

If second year players Quentin Rollins and Damarious Randall continue to get healthy, it stands to reason that their play will improve. Add to that the fact that Ladarious Gunter has showed up like a boss from time to time this year and Packers fans know that if he turns it on right now…the Packers have the opportunity to stress some pretty good quarterbacks and wide receiver groups.

2. Continue to get pressure on quarterbacks

The Packers defense is getting healthy at the right time. Clay Matthews was back last week and with Julius Peppers on the other side, with less reps on his body than in previous years, that duo could become a game changer. It was nice to see Nick Perry get out there and put Bradford down twice (pet the club) and with a game under his belt, he could be a real difference-maker Sunday night. But regardless of who it is, the Packers have to get pressure on Matthew Stafford while maintaining their gaps. Stafford is a dangerous quarterback and he has a lot of weapons around him. The Packers defense can’t take anything for granted in this one…from start to finish.

3. Score early and often

There is a sense in which this game will rise and fall on the skill of the quarterbacks. Matt Stafford is having a great season and is considered a Pro Bowl snub, and Aaron Rodgers is out-playing everyone on the football field right now. One of the best scenarios for the Packers is just to score early and often and take the game out of reach before the fourth quarter rolls around. I know that sounds simplistic but really…isn’t that the way we beat the Lions at Lambeau the first time around?

If Aaron Rodgers gets hot, and the Packers offense keeps its foot on the gas…games will go our way. The problem is that we have seen some inconsistency from time to time. But for the last several games, that inconsistency has been gone and the Packers offense has been performing at a top ten, if not top five…level. Now it is time to kick it up a notch.

Packers fans know that if the team has a lead in the fourth quarter, the defense will try to keep things in front of them and ride it out. Good late game pressure could close it out, but so could a point differential that takes the game out of reach. Keep in mind, the Packers gave up an onside late against the Vikings, which calls to memory another late game collapse no? The game is won or lost by score and the Packers have shown they can score on the Lions. Last time we met…we faltered in the second half, but this time we cannot afford to do that.

So the Packers have it all in front of them right now, and if they complete these three keys…I think we win the game. But after all…that is why you play. This team has a real chance to make a statement and show that they are the kind of team no one wants to play in the playoffs….let’s get it done and continue the streak.


Go Pack!