Calvin Johnson

Shawn: Well, we’ve been here before — Thanksgiving Day, big game, at Detroit.

It also seems like every time these two teams play a big score is predicted, and only once in near memory did that big score occur — the final game of 2011. Yeah, Matt Flynn played in that game, but that is one of few similarities. This is a totally different defense the Packers are facing tomorrow.

The Lions have been a favorable matchup with the Packers partially because they lack the big time pass rushers on the outside that seems a prerequisite for stopping an Aaron Rodgers led offense. At the same time, their offense has lacked the physicality that typically gives the Packers problems.

The Lions still have those problems. On the other hand, their defense isn’t the porous unit that injuries reduced it to by the end of 2011 and through most of 2012. Middle linebacker DeAndre Levy is playing his position as well as anyone in the league, and Louis Delmas has finally managed to stay on the field and be the difference-maker that he is while he is out there.

The Lions still have issues at corner, and those corners were much of the problem in their loss to Tampa Bay last week. They should have their hands full against the Packer receivers.

With their big defensive tackles and their sure-tackling linebackers, the Lions don’t necessarily need to stack the box to stop Eddie Lacy. So, that combined with Matt Flynn getting the start likely means that the Lions will play the most straight up defense that the Packers have seen since Aaron Rodgers went down.

On defense, the Packers will need to stop the run well enough to force Matthew Stafford to convert first downs with his arm.  Stafford is an explosive quarterback who only lacks the consistency to be an elite player at his position. The Packers have caught him during some of his more scattershot games, and they will hope to again.

The obvious keys to the game will be how well does the Packers’ defense hold up against Calvin Johnson and company, and if they don’t, can Matt Flynn generate enough offense to stay in the game?

Logic would suggest that the Packers should not be able to beat the Lions in Detroit with a backup quarterback. The problem with logic is that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just did that very thing.

As all Packers fans should know by now, the Packers still control their own destiny. If they win all their games, then they will win the division.

Nothing has been that easy this season. Because of that and because, amazingly, I like the Lions’ defense more than the Packers, I will take the Lions by two scores.

Lions 34, Packers 24

Monty: There’s not a hell of a lot to like about the Green Bay Packers right now.

Every week we hear about improving tackling, stopping the run and creating turnovers. Every week, none of those things happen. That’s left the Packers beat up offense to try to win games and, well, that hasn’t happened for a while either.

If there’s any good news, it’s that it looks like the Packers will be getting some key players back on the field this week. Of course, not THE key player, but something is better than nothing.

Cornerback Sam Shields should return from his hamstring injury and that should help the Packers defend Calvin Johnson. Right tackle Don Barclay should return from his knee injury, which means the truly awful Marshall Newhouse can go back to where he belongs — the bench.

For the Packers to win this game, the formula is simple. They need to control the clock and keep their shitty defense off the field. That means lots of Eddie Lacy, which the Lions will surely be expecting. Of course, the Vikings were expecting it too and they couldn’t do anything to stop Lacy.

The Packers will also need to limit Johnson’s big plays. Remember, he didn’t play in the first matchup of the season between these two teams. The Packers will have no such luck on Thursday.

Unfortunately, the way things are going right now, I have zero faith in the Packers ability to control the clock or stop Megatron.

Lions 24, Packers 17

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