Opposing View: Packers beat writer Rob Demovsky on the Lions-Packers matchup

Posted Nov 17, 2012

This week's Opposing View comes from Packers beat writer Rob Demovsky for the Green Bay Press-Gazette. You can follow Demovsky on Twitter at @RobDemovsky

1. How much drop off is there for the Packers up front with the loss of right tackle Bryan Bulaga?

Bulaga was probably their second-best offensive lineman this season behind right guard Josh Sitton. That said, T.J. Lang shouldn’t have much trouble moving from left guard to right tackle. He worked mostly at tackle in 2009 and 2010, although he was never a full-time starter there. The bigger question is how Evan Dietrich-Smith will play filling in for Lang at left guard. He held up well at guard last season when he was pressed into duty in the Thanksgiving game against the Lions and in three subsequent starts, so the Packers think they’ll be fine with these changes. However, if they happen to lose another offensive linemen, then all that’s left on their bench is a pair of undrafted rookies. Don Barclay would probably be next up. He plays all the line positions but center, but he hasn’t taken a snap from scrimmage yet this season. The other backup is Greg Van Roten, a guard/center who began the season on the practice squad.

2. Is this a tougher matchup defensively for the Packers than it was last year because the Lions have proven they're willing to run the football and have been effective doing it at times this season?

It’s tough matchup for the Packers anytime they’re going up against a marquee receiver like Calvin Johnson. Other than Brandon Marshall in Week 2 of this season, they really haven’t had much luck shutting down big-name receivers, and Johnson certainly qualifies in that category. Look what Reggie Wayne (13-212) and Marques Colston (9-153) have done to them. Or late last season, when Johnson (11-244) and Hakeem Nicks (7-165) lit them up. That said, the Packers have some young talent in the secondary, guys like Casey Hayward and Davon House, to complement Tramon Williams, and they’re playing the run better this season than they did last year. This seems like a defense that’s going to keep getting better as long as they can hold things together until Clay Matthews returns from his hamstring injury.

3. How dangerous can a team desperate for a win be on their home field?

Over the last few years, the Packers always seemed to respond in those situations. In 2009, they were 4-4 coming off a loss at previously winless Tampa Bay and went 7-1 in the second half of the season to make the playoffs. In 2010, they were 3-3 coming off consecutive losses and went on a run all the way to the Super Bowl.

4. Looks like WR Jordy Nelson is going to play. How different is that offense with him in the lineup?

It’s different with either Nelson or Greg Jennings on the field. The Packers can function without one of them but perhaps not without both. Having one of them takes some defensive attention away from the likes of Randall Cobb, James Jones and Jermichael Finley. As good as Jones has been this season, he probably needs a guy like Nelson on the field to take away some of the double teams.

5. How have the Packers been able to continue winning through all the injuries?

We’ll see if they can keep doing that without a guy like Matthews. Before this, they hadn’t lost anyone of Matthews’ caliber. Same thing with Bulaga on offense. Sure, losing Charles Woodson was a blow, but he wasn’t the player he was even a year or two ago. Most of the guys they had lost early in the season have been replaceable. It’s not necessarily the quantity of players you lose but the quality of them.