GREEN BAY—Sunday’s trip to Ford Field in Detroit will mark the fourth consecutive road game in a dome for the Green Bay Packers, and you won’t hear them complaining.
The Packers’ recent history indoors is nothing short of remarkable. Beginning with the 2010 NFC Divisional playoff game in Atlanta, Green Bay is 7-1 in its last eight dome games, and it’s mostly due to one player: quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
In those last eight indoor games, Rodgers’ numbers are out of this world. He has completed 71 percent of his passes and thrown 25 TD passes with just one interception for a 127.9 passer rating.
The only loss in that stretch came in Week 5 in Indianapolis, when an injury to running back Cedric Benson late in the first half derailed the offense for a quarter and a half, though it still put up 27 points in defeat.
For his career, Rodgers has a 117.0 passer rating in 19 dome starts, so this latest run isn’t just a fluke hot streak. He used to joke that he likes playing indoors because he gets to wear his favorite pair of shoes, but the truth is the comfort level extends to almost everyone in a high-octane offense like Green Bay’s.
“I like all fast tracks, man,” said receiver James Jones, a California native who has never made a secret of his disdain for the cold. “It’s nice and warm in the dome, you know which cleats you’re going to wear already, you don’t have to put three or four sleeves on. You just go out there and play.”
Multiple signs point to the Packers being able to continue their explosive offensive ways indoors on Sunday.
For one, the Packers are getting receiver Jordy Nelson back from hamstring and ankle injuries. When the Packers’ offense was clicking in its last two dome games, at Houston and St. Louis, Nelson caught a combined 17 passes for 243 yards and four TDs. On top of that, Jones scored two TDs against the Texans and Randall Cobb did the same against the Rams, after his first career 100-yard game in Houston.
The Packers had loads of production in those two games despite the absence of Greg Jennings, who hasn’t played since Week 4 but who was regularly a major contributor anytime the offense moved inside.
“We believe in everyone that’s out there,” Nelson said. “We’re all very talented, all do different things, and are able to make plays. It’s just a matter of when you’re on the field, you have to make the play.
“We need to continue it now after having a week off. Hopefully we’re a little more fresh and ready to go to start this run.”
Also, Detroit’s secondary is banged up. Safeties Louis Delmas (knee, doubtful), Amari Spievey (concussion, out) and Erik Coleman (eye, probable) are all on the injury report, with the hard-hitting Delmas’ absence the most crucial. At cornerback, starter Chris Houston is questionable with an ankle injury, Drayton Florence is just coming back from a broken arm and Bill Bentley, a rookie third-round draft pick, is already on injured reserve.
By all accounts, Detroit’s best pass defense on Sunday will be its pass rush, and the trio of Ndamukong Suh, Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch has combined for 12½ sacks this season. That’s the one area a home dome team usually has an advantage because of the jump it can get off the snap. As adept as any team in the league at the silent count, the Packers are seemingly impervious to crowd noise, and hope to remain so.
“They’re helped by a really good front four that get after the passer,” Rodgers said of the Lions’ defense. “For us it starts with protection. If we can block it up, we can take some chances downfield.”
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