LIONS INSIDER

Twentyman: QB Aaron Rodgers will be the first stop in the Lions' uphill road to the playoffs

Posted Nov 14, 2012

The Lions have the league's most difficult remaining schedule based on opponent win percentage, meaning they'll have to beat the best to earn the right to play with the best in January.

One thing is clear after falling to 4-5 on season and into ninth place in the NFC's six-team playoff race: it's now an uphill road to the playoffs for the Lions.

The first stop along the way: a matchup with Green Bay at Ford Field and reigning MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

The Lions have the league's most difficult remaining schedule based on opponent win percentage, meaning they'll have to beat the best to earn the right to play with the best in January.

And it's arguable that there isn't a quarterback out there right now that is playing better than Rodgers.

"We certainly have a lot of respect for him," Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said of the Packers signal caller. "His touchdown to interception (ratio) is pretty much insane right now - 25 to 5. They score a lot of touchdowns. You look at a stat sheet all you want; touchdowns are a pretty good stat.

"He's done it by taking care of the football; he's got a great command of their offense. He attacks every inch of the field and he makes good decisions. He's won a Superbowl. He's got that to his resume so it's not just statistics for him. He's been a winner."

He's won a lot against the Lions, too.

In six starts vs. the Lions with 15-plus attempts (not including the 2010 Lions victory at Ford Field when Rodgers left in the first half with a concussion), Rodgers is 6-0 with a 69.7 completion percentage, has 1,830 yards (305 per game), 16 touchdowns, three interceptions and a quarterback rating of 120.2.

Rodgers has played with a chip on his shoulder dating back to his high school and college days when he was passed over by some of the big college programs. He then fell to the 24th pick in the 2005 NFL Draft.

Rodgers used some of that as fuel early in his career to become the player he is now.

"You've got to be self-motivated in this League to be successful," Rodgers said.

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford just wishes Rodgers would let it go.

"I wish he'd just get over it and just start getting complacent and start throwing picks," he said with a laugh. "That would be awesome. No,  it works for him.
He's a competitive guy."

Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham considers him one of the three Elite quarterbacks in the league.

"Rodgers, (Tom) Brady and (Peyton) Manning are in a class by themselves," Cunningham told Detroitlions.com. "If you give him something and he smells it before the balls snapped, he's going to get you.

"Not only that, I found out a year ago listening to him on a Sirius talk show, I walked away from that thing going, 'my god is he is smart'.

"He plays like that. He's a bright guy and he's got a rocket for an arm. The problem is he has feet to go with it. He's probably the quickest and he has the ability to accelerate to gain yards fast on his feet. He can run too."

The Packers are banged up with injuries to linebacker Clay Matthews, defensive back Charles Woodson, receiver Greg Jennings and right tackle Brian Bulaga - all of whom aren't expected to play Sunday - but that hasn't prevented them from winning four straight and six of their first nine.

The one constant over that stretch of games has been the play of Rodgers, who is the first quarterback in NFL history with 25-plus passing touchdowns in his team's first nine games in two different seasons.

Rodgers is playing well and the Packers have had two weeks to prepare for the Lions coming off their bye week.

That means the Lions defense is going to have to get better efforts from all three levels if they're going to change their recent luck against Rodgers and Co.