LIONS INSIDER

Twentyman: A win in Green Bay would end two losing streaks for Lions

Posted Dec 9, 2012

There are losing streaks and then there are losing streaks.

The Lions are on a four-game skid that has dropped their record to 4-8 and knocked them out of the playoff hunt with a month left in the season.

The Packers have won six of their last seven, and though they aren’t as dominant as last year's 15-1 team, they remain the favorites to win the NFC North and are expected to make a run at the Super Bowl.

Then there’s that whole thing about winning in the state of Wisconsin for the Lions.

The Lions' road losing streak against the Packers has reached 21 straight games over 20 seasons.

“They are a good team every year,” said center Dominic Raiola this week when asked about the streak. “That’s what makes it hard to play there. I don’t think it’s anything more than that.”

Even 42-year-old Jason Hanson wasn’t with the team the last time they won in Green Bay on Dec. 15, 1991. He was still in college.

“We are all a part of it,” said Raiola, who hasn’t won in 11 trips. “I’ve been here so long that there’s an accountability to that. It sucks. We’ll see if we can break it this week.”

HISTORY
The series dates all the way back to Nov. 2, 1930 when the two teams met for the first time with Green Bay winning 47-13. They’ve met 163 times since, with the Packers holding a 92-65-7 advantage. The two met in Week 11 at Ford Field with the Packers winning 24-20.

2012 REGULAR SEASON RANKINGS (Rank)

LionsPackers
Record 4-8 8-4
Points per game 25.0 (11) 24.7 (12)
Total yards per game 416.1 (2) 350.6 (16)
Rushing yards 103.6 (21) 105.0 (20)
Passing yards 312.5 (1) 245.6 (11)
Points allowed 26.3 (25) 21.6 (13)
Total yards allowed 353.4 (19) 349.0 (15)
Rushing yards allowed 119.4 (19) 115.2 (15)
Passing yards allowed 234.0 (18) 233.8 (170
Turnover ratio -5 (21) +6 (11)

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Mikel Leshoure, RB:

Leshoure had one of his finer games of the season against the Packers in their Week 11 matchup when he went for 84 yards and a touchdown.

Leshoure struggled to get anything going last week vs. Indianapolis, finishing with 57 yards on 21 carries.

The last month is usually hard on young players going through the rigors of an NFL season for the first time. Especially a running back.

“I thought a hit my rookie wall a little earlier (this year),” Leshoure said this week. “I feel good and I feel like I’m still getting stronger.”

Mike Thomas, WR:

Thomas has been elevated to the No. 2 spot behind Calvin Johnson with the injury to Ryan Broyles last week. Thomas caught only one pass for minus-1 yard vs. Indianapolis. He also dropped a potential touchdown.

He’s expected to work more out of his natural slot position this week with Kris Durham and Brian Robiskie working wide.

Nick Fairley, DT:

The second-year defensive tackle was dominant in the first meeting with the Packers. He had a field day with Packers guard Evan Dietrich-Smith and finished with two sacks and a forced fumble.

Fairley has really come into his own over the last month filling in for the injured Corey Williams.

He's been limited by a quad injury this week, though, which could be the only thing that slows him down tonight.

Packers

Greg Jennings, WR:

Jennings returned to the field last week after missing most of the year with a torn abdominal muscle. He’s the big-play threat in the Packers passing game.

Since 2007, only five receivers have more 25-yard catches than Jennings (58). Calvin Johnson leads the way with 72.

The Packers will use Jennings on the outside and keep Randall Cobb in the slot.

Casey Hayward, CB:

Hayward has had an impressive rookie campaign, leading all rookies with five interceptions. Cornerback Tramon Williams is likely to be called upon to cover Johnson for the majority of the time, leaving Hayward to lock down some of the Lions other receiving threats.

James Jones, WR:

Jones has taken full advantage of the injury situation this season and is putting up the best numbers of his career. His nine touchdown catches are third most in the league and eclipse his season high of seven from 2011.

5 KEYS FOR LIONS
Finish

The Lions have lost their last three games in which they led in the final two minutes of the game.

The defense has been unable to get the key stops late in games. Against the Packers in Week 11, the Lions allowed a 22-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Randall Cobb with 1:55 remaining for the decisive points.

Someone needs to figure out how to make a play in the final minutes of the game.

Consistency on defense

The Lions did a good job holding Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in check for most of the first game at Ford Field.

The Lions defense has forced 13 three-and-out series over the last two games and 37 for the year, which in the fifth most in the NFL.

Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham would like to see a few more of those three-and-out series in the fourth quarter.

Defend the big play

The Lions' secondary is coming off arguably its worst game of the season last week against Indianapolis allowing six passing plays of 20-plus yards and four of 40-plus.

The Packers rank No. 2 in the league in scoring outside of the red zone with 119 points (14 touchdowns, seven field goals).

The secondary must keep the big plays to a minimum if they have any hopes of coming out ahead.

Johnson can’t do it all

The Lions got a whopping two catches for two yards from wide receivers not named Calvin Johnson last week.

Tight ends Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler picked up some of the slack with a combined six catches for 97 yards.

Johnson had five catches for 143 yards and a touchdown in the first meeting. The second-leading receiver was Ryan Broyles with two catches for 35 yards.

Take advantage of injuries

The Packers are banged up. No Clay Matthews. No Jordy Nelson. No Charles Woodson. They could be without right tackle T.J. Lang, too, which means undrafted rookie Don Barclay could make his first-career start.

The Packers have been winning despite the injuries, but the Lions should have a significant advantage at a number of positions.

Can they take advantage of backups in the Packers' lineup this time around?