GREEN BAY—It’s been a long time since Lambeau Field has hosted a regular-season game as dramatic as the one the Packers and Lions are going to play on Sunday.
The NFC North Division title, a first-round playoff bye and possibly as much as the No. 1 seed – at the least, the No. 2 seed – in the NFC playoffs will be at stake. But there’s more. At stake is the perception of who owns the division’s future.
These are the North’s two best teams. There’s no question about it. It’s also likely these will be the division’s top contenders next season.
The Packers have controlled the North since they won Super Bowl XLV. With a win on Sunday, the Packers will win their fourth consecutive North title and will confirm their hold on the division’s other three teams.
Detroit will be attempting to end its drought on Wisconsin soil, and fulfill the promise that has been predicted for them by none other than Packers Coach Mike McCarthy, who fingered the Lions at the 2011 scouting combine as a team on the verge. Make no doubt about it, heading into this game, the Lions are a team on the verge.
The winner of this game becomes a postseason favorite. The loser hits the long road to the big game. How big is this game? When is the last time Lambeau Field hosted a regular-season game this big?
Here are 10 things the Packers have to do to beat the Lions.
1. Win the battle of the line of scrimmage – The Lions’ defensive front was the winner in Week 3. That must change for the Packers to win this game.
2. Deny Calvin Johnson – The Packers did that in Week 3, but it was an effort wasted on the Packers’ worst offensive output of the season.
3. Make adjustments – That’s what Aaron Rodgers said the Packers didn’t do in that Week 3 game. OK, then do it.
4. Run the ball – The Lions invited it in Week 3. They’ll likely invite it again.
5. Build on momentum – The Packers defense is on fire. Don’t stop burning.
6. Break a kickoff return – The Packers’ longest kickoff return this season is 41 yards. The Lions have struggled at covering kickoffs. Something has to give.
7. Block Ziggy Ansah – He’s beginning to realize his potential as a playmaker in space.
8. Win in the red zone – Detroit is 20th; the Packers are 12th.
9. Own the fourth quarter – Aaron Rodgers is No. 4 in the league in fourth-quarter passing. Matt Stafford is No. 31.
10. Get loud Lambeau – In a game for home field advantage, the Packers must enjoy a home field advantage.
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