Well it is almost here. The Packers versus Lions game that will determine the NFC North champion is set for the late time slot tomorrow. The NFL flexing this game to 3:25 is like Mom and Dad telling lil’ Jimmy he can’t open his Christmas presents until after Mom gets done watching her daytime soap operas…sure, Jimmy will make it but there will be considerable hand-wringing and multiple attempts to find something to to occupy his mind. So what are you gonna do while you wait Packernation?
The playoff picture is just about set with only one NFC team still to be decided…the NFC South where either Carolina or Atlanta play to become the Pariah of the Playoffs this year. But all eyes in Packernation will be on yet another NFC North-deciding game at Lambeau. This one could be epic! The Packers dropped one to the Lions early in the season on a LOT of offensive mistakes while the defense played well enough to win. This has become a pattern in some respects for the Packers when they play away games. At Lambeau, however, they are money! The Pack hasn’t lost at Lambeau this year and Aaron has not thrown an interception. The temp at Lambeau is supposed to be in the twenties and Aaron Rodgers wins 3 out of four when the temperature is below 40 degrees so the Packers have every reason to get this one done.
With a bevy of weapons at his disposal, Matthew Stafford has been curiously pedestrian this season and the Lions have gotten to their 11-4 record more by the skin of their teeth than by any dominant performance. This is a team that has been begging to lose for more than a month, let’s give ’em their wish. The Packers defense has come on down the stretch and with the Lions missing suspended center Dominic Raiola, which could lead to communication problems. If the defense continues to roll and the offense gets back in sync, watch out Detroit.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Lions will likely take the same approach they won with in Detroit…stop the run and rush four to get extra help in the second and third level against the always dangerous Aaron Rodgers and company. Make no mistake folks, the Packers have shown ample evidence that if there is a formula to beat this team, that is it. Early on, look for the Packers to try to get Eddie Lacy going on the ground, but if the Lions stifle the run, we need to play action and throw to him out of the backfield. How valuable has Eddie been to this team? He’s like Marshawn Lynch without the attitude and with the hands of Jordy Nelson. Get him out into space, in the second/third level and watch the cornerbacks and safeties limp off the field. This will force DB’s to cheat up and then the pass game opens up.
Finally, how great has the offensive line been playing at Lambeau? I remember counting 12 seconds they game Aaron for one play…one play! Of course he will not get that kind of time against the Lions but if the line plays well, the Packers can win this one going away. There is a reason for the saying “the battle is won in the trenches”. This will be especially true if the Packers can get Eddie going in the run game early without having to adjust to play action. If he has success, I say “Ride that horse!” The offensive line just loves blocking for that kid, just watch Corey Linsley ten yards downfield, burying defenders…I love what that guys is doing and being next to Pro-Bowler Josh Sitton can’t hurt.
So before tomorrow morning, make sure that you have something planned to take your mind off things while you wait. Pick up a hobby, learn a foreign language or heck, warm up that cryo machine that you haven’t used in like, forever and spend those heart-rending hours in suspended animation. But worry not about one thing…there’s a game to be played with a LOT on the line and our Packers will be ready!