Bay Packers free safety M.D. Jennings (43) returns a fumble
24-yards for a touchdown in the first half of an NFL football
game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sept. 22nd in Cincinnati.
GREEN BAY - There's
an early-season role reversal in the NFC North.
The Detroit Lions
are tied at the top at 3-1. The two-time defending champion Packers
are third at 1-2.
Doesn't seem right,
especially after Detroit finished 4-12 last season. But here come
the Lions with a chance to create more divisional separation when
the old Midwest rivals meet Sunday at Lambeau Field.
Fueled by an
offense that added multidimensional running back Reggie Bush and a
defensive line spearheaded by tackle Ndamukong Suh, the Lions are
off to a fast start, They are just one win from matching their
victory total for 2012.
Now that talk about
winning a division title doesn't seem too far-fetched.
"Last year, we
did not win a division game. This year, we're 2-0 in the division.
This would give us a chance to go 3-0," coach Jim Schwartz
said. "This gives us an opportunity to get another win, get a
division win, and also put a loss on one of our division
Not if Green Bay
has anything to say about it. The Packers are back from a bye and a
week to stew about a wild 34-30 loss at Cincinnati.
There's no sense of
want to put yourself in this position because it's a tough battle
and we've got 13 straight games here, which gives it an extra
dimension as well to the toughness," Aaron Rodgers said.
"But we're going to rely on our veterans to stay healthy, play
well and lead, and our young guys to come along and grow up
Five things to
watch ahead of the 168th meeting between the teams:
The Lions haven't beaten Green Bay in Wisconsin since 1991. That's
22 straight victories for the Packers at home, including one playoff
win. The 21 straight regular-season home wins for Green Bay against
Detroit are an NFL record.
eye-catching statistic for writers, players on both teams said this
week. But they're not paying attention to the streak. Honest.
"We've got to
go out there and spend all of our time preparing to play the 2013
Green Bay Packers and not the ones from '94, '95. That has nothing
to do with what we're trying to do this weekend," said
quarterback Matthew Stafford, who was 3 years old when the Lions
last beat Green Bay on the road.
preparing to play this team and doing that to the best of our
BACKFIELD BEAT: The
Packers' defense will be busy keeping track of Bush out of the
backfield after he amassed 173 yards from scrimmage in last week's
40-32 win over the Bears. But there are signs of life in Green Bay's
once-struggling running game, too.
Eddie Lacy's back
from a concussion. Fellow rookie Johnathan Franklin is over an
apparent minor foot injury suffered after rushing for 103 yards on
13 carries against Cincinnati, including a 51-yard dash. The Packers
now have had back-to-back games with 100-yard rushers after going
nearly three years without one.
BIG PUSH: It's hard
to miss the 6-foot-4, 307-pound Suh, the Lions' force in the middle.
It was hard to stop him last week, too, when he had two sacks and a
The Packers are
also worried about fellow tackle Nick Fairley. The push up front has
played a key role in the Lions; defense forcing 11 turnovers so far,
while also holding opponents to a 21 percent conversion rate on
third downs, tops in the NFL.
RODGERS SHOW: Then
again, the Lions also haven't faced one of the NFL's best
quarterbacks yet in Rodgers, and the dangerous Packers receiving
corps. Rodgers is looking to rebound from a rare two-interception
game. He'll also have tight end Jermichael Finley back from a
THE BUSH EFFECT:
It's no longer just the Calvin Johnson show in Detroit. Bush adds
speed out of the backfield and another option for Stafford, who is
focus all your attention on Calvin. At the same time you can't put
all your attention on Bush," Packers safety M.D. Jennings said.
"You've got to stay balanced as well on defense."