Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions: Prediction, preview, pick to win

By The Sports Xchange  |  Dec. 30, 2017 at 7:28 AM
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GREEN BAY PACKERS (7-8) AT DETROIT LIONS (8-7)

GAME SNAPSHOT

KICKOFF: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Ford Field. TV: FOX, Dick Stockton, Mark Schlereth, Shannon Spake (field reporter).

SERIES HISTORY: 175th regular-season meeting. Packers lead series, 98-69-7. The Lions have a chance to sweep the season series against the Packers for the first time since 1991. One memorable game between these two teams came in 2015, when the Packers beat the Lions on a 61-yard Hail Mary from Aaron Rodgers to Richard Rodgers.

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Lions won at Lambeau Field in November by shutting down the Packers' running game and forcing Brett Hundley to beat them through the air, and they'll no doubt take a similar approach this time.

Hundley completed just 17 of 40 passes with two interceptions last week, and the Packers could be without top receivers Davante Adams and Jordy Nelson. The Lions have picked off six passes in the last three games, but they need to keep Hundley from beating them with his legs.

Offensively, Marvin Jones has dominated the Packers in his three games against them as a Lion. He'll be a focal point of the offense. If starting linemen Rick Wagner, Travis Swanson and T.J. Lang return, the Lions might even take some shots downfield again.

The Lions rank dead last in the NFL in rushing offense (78.0), so the Packers will do everything possible to make sure Matthew Stafford and Detroit's passing offense don't rule the day.

That won't be easy, though. The Lions rank sixth in the NFL in passing offense (258.5) and, with the Packers having nothing to play for, they will be taking a look at several young players.

"I think with the first game, we had some designed blitzes and stunts up front, you know worried about Stafford trying to extend play a little bit," Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said. "This time, hopefully, we can turn it loose a little bit more, just try to get some true four- and five-man pass rushed on them."

MATCHUPS TO WATCH:

--Lions TE Eric Ebron vs. Packers LB Blake Martinez. The Lions have turned more and more to Ebron in the passing game in recent weeks, with the tight end catching four or more passes in each of the last six games. He has been a favorite target of Matthew Stafford early in games, and he caught a career-best 33-yard touchdown pass last week. The Packers have had their struggles against tight ends at times -- Greg Olsen had a nine-catch, 116-yard game earlier this month -- and Martinez and Co. will have their hands full with Ebron.

--Packers QB Brett Hundley vs. Lions LB Tahir Whitehead. The Lions have had their problems against running quarterbacks. Mitchell Trubisky and DeShone Kizer each topped 50 yards rushing, and Hundley and Case Keenum scored on short runs. Whitehead has some quarterback responsibilities in the zone-read game, so he'll have to keep close tabs on Hundley.

FRIDAY INJURY REPORT

GREEN BAY PACKERS

--Out: WR Davante Adams (concussion), G Jahri Evans (knee), RB Aaron Jones (knee), WR Jordy Nelson (shoulder), LB Nick Perry (ankle, shoulder), TE Richard Rodgers (shoulder)

--Questionable: WR Geronimo Allison (illness), T Ulrick John (back), LB Clay Matthews (hamstring), CB Damarious Randall (knee)

DETROIT LIONS

--Out: CB Nevin Lawson (concussion)

--Questionable: DE Anthony Zettel (groin)

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Packers NT Kenny Clark. Clark is closing the year with a bang. He has 4.5 sacks in his last four games, the third most in the NFL over that time. Clark's 4.5 sacks are also the most by a Packers defensive tackle in December since Ezra Johnson's six in 1983. "I think Kenny came out of the blocks playing good football this year, probably building off how he finished last year," coach Mike McCarthy said. "I think Kenny Clark is having an outstanding year. He's been very consistent."

FAST FACTS: Packers QB Brett Hundley has seven TD passes and no interceptions in his past three road starts. ... RB Jamaal Williams has 559 scrimmage yards (93.2 per game) and five TDs in his past six games. Williams (474 rushing yards, four rushing TDs) and RB Aaron Jones (448 and four) are the only pair of rookie teammates with 400 rushing yards and at least four rushing TDs. ... WR Davante Adams is tied for second in the NFL with 10 TD catches. He has caught a TD pass in nine straight road games. ... WR Jordy Nelson has two TD catches in his past three games vs. Detroit. He has at least five catches in eight of his past nine road games vs. the division. ... LB Blake Martinez leads the NFL with a career-high 136 tackles. He has 13 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble in his past two games vs. Detroit. ... DT Kenny Clark had two sacks in Week 16, his first career two-sack game. He has 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble in his past four games. ... CB Damarious Randall has three interceptions in his past six road games. ... Detroit QB Matthew Stafford ranks third in the NFL with 4,123 passing yards. He has seven consecutive seasons with 4,000 yards, second-longest streak in NFL history. He threw for 361 yards and two TDs in his last game vs. Green Bay. ... RB Theo Riddick has three rushing TDs in his past four games. Since 2015, he is the only NFL running back with 1,500 receiving yards and 10 TD catches. ... WR Golden Tate has 13 receptions for 190 yards (95 per game) and a TD in his past two games vs. the Packers. Since joining Detroit in 2014, he is third in the NFC with 365 receptions. ... LB Tahir Whitehead leads Detroit with 104 tackles, his second consecutive 100-tackle season. He had a sack in his last game vs. Green Bay. He has 30 tackles (10 per game) in his past three home games.

PREDICTION: The Lions won easily in Green Bay in November, so they should have the edge at home as they go for a winning season.

OUR PICK: Lions, 24-10.

--Chris Cluff

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