Key Battle for Packers at Lions

In what will hopefully be a tune-up for the Playoffs, the Packers should concentrate on getting the run game consistent.

This week, everything is on the table.

The winner gets the division title and a home game in the first round of the playoffs, the loser is on the road as a six seed, assuming Washington doesn’t knock them out.

Oh yeah, if Washington beats the New York Giants, they will catch the six seed which means the loser of this game gets an early tee time.

If the Packers don’t want to leave that to chance, then they have to win this game.

While the passing offense is on fire, the Lions get Darious Slay back and that could complicate things a bit. As much as the Packers will and should throw the ball, they should also focus on running in with Ty Montgomery.

After a huge game against Chicago, Montgomery was non-existent against the Vikings. Both games ended in wins, so it’s hard to quibble, but it was surprising to see Montgomery get absolutely no run in a game where the Packers were way out ahead and could have burned clock.

It’s actually a shock that the Packers didn’t own the clock, with the Vikings ending up with the ball for 31 minutes versus 29 for Green Bay.

The Vikings don’t have a good offense, but the Lions do. So controlling the clock would be a good idea, and given we’ve seen some collapses late in a few playoff games, learning how to grind the clock out is pretty critical.

We’ve seen Montgomery run the ball, and run it well.

Detroit is vulnerable on the ground, and the defense averages 103.2 yards allowed per game. They are a little stingier in the red zone, with just eight rushing touchdowns this year, which ties them for second-least rushing touchdowns allowed in the NFL.

Last week Ezekiel Elliott hit them for 80 yards and a pair of touchdowns (the Cowboys backfield accounted for 164 yards total) and even the woeful backfield the New York Giants feature dropped 114 yards on them.

The Lions will give yards on the ground, so the Packers should take advantage of that and tune up a run game they ignored in Week 16. We know Aaron Rodgers and the receivers can score in the red zone, so the lack of rushing touchdowns isn’t a concern.

Burning the clock on the road (which even if they win the division, they are likely to have to do at least once) is a concern, and it would be good to see them get the run game going against a vulnerable opponent before they need to desperately. 

0 points

Comments (21)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
croatpackfan's picture

December 30, 2016 at 05:19 am

Well Andrew, you said: "Oh yeah, if Washington beats the New York Giants, they will catch the six seed which means the loser of this game gets an early tee time." what is correct, but by tie, Packers win division and Lions are playoff team!
Check!

0 points
0
0
Hematite's picture

December 30, 2016 at 05:19 am

If clock management is a big factor in this game the end result probably won't be pleasant for us.
McCarthy's clock management is abominable and has been for years.

0 points
0
0
NickPerry's picture

December 30, 2016 at 06:03 am

"After a huge game against Chicago, Montgomery was non-existent against the Vikings. Both games ended in wins, so it’s hard to quibble, but it was surprising to see Montgomery get absolutely no run in a game where the Packers were way out ahead and could have burned clock."

BINGO!!!!

Monty had 9 carries, 1 in the 1st quarter, 5 in the 2nd quarter, 2 in the 3rd quarter, and 1 carry in the 4th quarter. Matter of fact, Montgomery carried the ball on the 1st play of the game and then didn't have another rushing attempt until the 12:30 mark of the 2nd quarter. Packers running backs ran the ball a total of 13 plays, that's not an attempt to run the ball, it's hardly an afterthought. Not to mention the Packers run blocking last week was pretty bad. The Vikings were sitting on Michael and Montgomery and the OL did them no favors.

The Lions are ranked 16th in run defense and 15th in pass defense, I think the Packers will be able to move the ball effectively both ways. I mentioned it yesterday, I felt the Packers need to get the running game going Sunday for exactly the reason Andrew mentioned, to keep Stafford on the sideline and control the clock.

0 points
0
0
SpudRapids's picture

December 30, 2016 at 09:09 am

"but it was surprising to see Montgomery get absolutely no run in a game where the Packers were way out ahead and could have burned clock."

What is interesting is how many times have we seen comments on this site calling out McCarthy for taking his foot off the gas? Seems like McCarthy can't win no matter what he does.

0 points
0
0
NickPerry's picture

December 30, 2016 at 12:41 pm

One carry in the first 17 1/2 minutes of the game though? I mean you can't argue with the success of last week's results that's for sure, but most weeks that just won't cut it. Montgomery has run and caught the ball well in just about every game once they started to use him week 6 against Dallas.

I think McCarthy called one of his best games last week. He kept the pressure on until midway through the 4th quarter. That's a hell of a lot better than doing it midway through the 3rd.

0 points
0
0
SpudRapids's picture

December 30, 2016 at 02:09 pm

I look at this way... the Vikings were not going to be beat my Montgomery and McCarthy and Rodgers knew this and exploited it. Read the "What You Might Have Missed" article on Packers.com. Spofford does a great job pointing out how the Pack took advantage of the Vikings keying on Monty.

0 points
0
0
NickPerry's picture

December 31, 2016 at 06:16 am

Agreed Spud, I mentioned it in first comment. Not trying to argue with you Bud. The Vikings no doubt weren't going to let Monty beat them AND the way Rodgers, Nelson, and others played it's hard not to keep passing.

0 points
0
0
PETER MAIZ's picture

December 30, 2016 at 06:14 am

Darius Slay is going to be a big problem for Jordy.

0 points
0
0
NickPerry's picture

December 30, 2016 at 06:59 am

He's been limited both days in practice. I wouldn't doubt he plays but at what level with a bad Hammy?

0 points
0
0
Houndog's picture

December 30, 2016 at 08:42 am

Yeah, he likely will be, and then maybe he'll do just as well as Harrison Smith, Trey Waynes, and Terrance Newman did last week. I guess we'll see.

0 points
0
0
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

December 30, 2016 at 01:36 pm

Why? IIRC, Slay was healthy the first time these two teams met and Nelson had 6 receptions on 7 targets for 101 yards and 2 TDs.

0 points
0
0
Jean Mitchell's picture

December 30, 2016 at 03:02 pm

Then Adams & Allison can be key factors. ARod has other good & competent choices if coverage on "White Lightening" stays tight.

0 points
0
0
Houndog's picture

December 30, 2016 at 08:47 am

Clock Management, has McPuffy ever heard of it, history might say otherwise! If that holds true, then he'll likely wait until there's 10 minutes left in the game (and everyone's expecting it) to try running the ball for that purpose.

0 points
0
0
Andrew Lloyd Peth's picture

December 30, 2016 at 09:32 am

Minnesota was killing the run. I'm glad we kept passing. Anyone calling for us to "establish" the run when Rodgers is on fire...

...needs to shut up. Immediately.

Rodgers should come out throwing against Detroit. They'll have no answer, and wasting downs with 2-yard runs will give Detroit hope they don't deserve.

We've got the better team, if we just play our game. Our defense will hemorrhage points, so Rodgers needs to score all game.

With our corners, it could take 40 to win.

0 points
0
0
RobinsonDavis's picture

December 30, 2016 at 12:34 pm

I don't care HOW they win, just WIN baby! What I do know is that the Packer offense played well against Detroit when they played up-tempo - this can include running the ball. I just don't want us to a milk a clock, get into a 3rd and long situation, fail, and kick the ball away. I would rather see us dink and dunk the ball, aggressively, down the field, opening the run game. The LARGER issue in my mind, has got to be if we can defend the middle of the field and their bigger receivers, which gave us havoc last game. I frankly am looking at the D-line to help us out by applying quick pressure & think Julius and Datone can play a huge part in this just by getting their paws in the air with side-arm throwing Stafford.

Another issue that popped-up last game (at least from some of their writers) were that the Lions were complaining of our O-line holding. I will be watching this to see if the officials appease and/or how flag happy they will or will not be.

0 points
0
0
Since'61's picture

December 30, 2016 at 10:12 am

To me the key battle is the Packers OL versus the Lions front 7. Protect Rodgers, build a lead and then chew up the clock with the ground game. Our OL is the key to keeping Stafford off the the field with long time consuming drives hopefully resulting in points. Even without scoring we need to maintain drives that take 3-5 minutes off the clock. Stafford has been the master of the comeback this season . We need to close out his chances for mounting a comeback against our secondary by running the clock down on him. Just win baby! Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

0 points
0
0
PETER MAIZ's picture

December 31, 2016 at 02:51 am

Keeping Stafford on the sidelines would be the best way to win. Hopefully, come Hell or high water, Rodger's premier job will be not to go third and out. Billy BobCooter has made Stafford more effective.

0 points
0
0
Lphill's picture

December 30, 2016 at 12:00 pm

Rodgers was in his comfort zone passing against the Vikings and having fun, why would MM want to spoil that , he let Monty rest up so he is fresh for the Lions.

0 points
0
0
marpag1's picture

December 30, 2016 at 01:04 pm

A lot of people seem horrified at the thought of the GB pass defense trying to stop Stafford and the Lions. I get it. GB's pass defense is pretty scary... to Packer fans. But maybe this will help.

ARod > Stafford. This does not really require explanation, but let's just say that ARod has more yards (4128 to 3980) higher yards per attempt (7.23 / 7.20) more TDs (36 / 22), fewer INTs (7 / 9) higher passer rating (102.7 / 93.1) and higher QBR (78 / 71.3). Completion percentage is identical. And yeah, ARod is currently on fire while Staffy got kicked in the butt and broke his finger. For all of his comebacks this year, Stafford bears responsibility for being behind in the first place, and he's still the same meat-headed, maddening, killer pick-throwin' neckbeard-wearin' Jay Cutler wannabe that he has always been... just with slightly better stats than smokin' Jay.

GB Pass defense > DET pass defense. Seriously. Yes, both teams suck against the pass, but DET sucks worse. DET's defense allows a league worst 105 passer rating, to GB's 95. DET allows a 73% completion rate, GB allows 65%. GB is third in the league in INT's (16) while DET is 22nd (10). GB is fifth in sacks (38) while DET is 29th (25).

The only thing that worries me is if this becomes one of those raucous-home-crowd-momentum-games-where-everything-goes-right sort of things, but that can happen ANY week. Expect the Pack to send the Kittens home disappointed and wondering what happened to their fleeting "greatness."

0 points
0
0
PETER MAIZ's picture

December 31, 2016 at 02:57 am

McCarthy's job is to avoid a shootout. Hopefully, the Packers pass defense plays a little better, I think Gunter will play. Jordy's early play will check to see if Slay's play is deterred by the hammy.

0 points
0
0
Ferrari Driver's picture

December 31, 2016 at 09:47 am

Stafford has been more effective with the guidance of Billy Bob Cooter; I hope he gets a head coaching job next year and we get him out of the NFC North.

The crowd noise will limit Aaron's hard count, but his ability to extend plays and scramble should be too much for the Detroit defense to contain.

I hope and expect a Packer victory around 28-17

0 points
0
0