FRIDAY FOCUS: Mike O'Hara believes the Lions can break the streak

Posted Oct 4, 2013

Detroitlions.com columnist Mike O'Hara takes a look at Sunday's matchup between the Lions and Packers at Lambeau Field

When history hits you smack in the face, you can swallow it whole and suffer the bitter taste or clench your teeth and refuse to bite.

Glover Quin, a free agent addition whose faultless play at strong safety in the first four games has upgraded the Lions' secondary, isn't biting on the updates he has been getting almost weekly on negative chapters in the Lions' history.

Quin hasn't accepted any of it. That includes two weeks ago, when the Lions beat Washington on the road for the first time in franchise history, and again this week, when they go to Green Bay to play a Packers team that has beaten them in the last 22 games on their home field.

"To me, it seems like every week you all are coming at me with something," Quin said when asked about the losing streak. "My thing is, like I say every week, I feel like things change year to year.

"This team right here has never lost to Green Bay. This team has never played Green Bay. The organization may have never won in 22 years. This team hasn't played there.

"Right now, we're going there to beat Green Bay."

This team -- the 2013 Lions -- is carving a positive identity in the only way possible. Winning changes a team's identity, and the Lions are doing that, at least in the short term, by starting the season with a 3-1 record.

It is easy to catch the fever of a fast start, but there are a lot of things to like about the Lions. Aside from the strategic factors -- Reggie Bush adding a dimension to the offense, good play up front on both lines and better overall play in the secondary and on special teams -- the Lions have shown resiliency.

They have talent, and they are stronger mentally than in past seasons.

In this week's Packers-Lions Friday Focus, there are enough positive elements on the Lions' side to abandon a self-imposed vow not to pick the Lions to beat Washington or the Packers on the road until they've done it.

That vow held firm two weeks ago, picking Washington -- in a game won by the Lions.

Not this week.

Sunday prediction:

My prediction for Sunday: Lions 37, Packers 33.

My prediction comes with a caution flag. Do NOT pawn the silver, take out a second mortgage or crack the cookie jar to loot the kids' senior-trip fund. Picking the Lions over the Packers at Lambeau isn't a Godfather Lock, lock of the millennium or any of the sure things I predicted in other years that occasionally hit but just as often helped me earn frequent-shopper points at the Salvation Army and Goodwill Industries.

Lambeau Field and the brilliance of Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers represent a mighty force to overcome, but it's time for the Lions to write a new chapter in their history.

Series history:

The Packers have a 93-65 advantage with seven ties in a series that began in 1932, when the Lions were still in Portsmouth, Ohio. Green Bay's 22-game home winning streak includes a 16-12 victory at Lambeau in the 1994 wild-card playoffs. The 21-game streak in the regular season is the longest in NFL history.

The Packers are 13-1 against the Lions under head coach Mike McCarthy.

Bye bias:

The Packers are 6-1 under McCarthy and 13-4 in the last 17 games after the bye.

Stats pack:

Packers rankings: Offense -- 9 rushing, 3 passing, 3 total; Defense -- 8 rushing, 28 passing, 8 total.

Lions rankings: Offense -- 21 rushing, 5 passing, 6 total; Defense -- 20 rushing, 21 passing, 18 total.

Key Packers stats: Tied for 21st in turnover ratio, minus 2; On offense, second in average first downs (26) and points (32) per game. On defense, 31st in passer rating allowed (113.7) and average yards per play (6.4).

Key Lions stats: On defense, first in third-down conversion (10-47, 21 percent), 28th in rushing average against (5.2 yards) and 20th in sacks (9). On offense, the Lions are No. 1 in sacks allowed per play (3 allowed overall), fourth in points scored per game, but 22nd in average gain per rush (3.6).

Packer matchup:

Their depth at running back has been tested by injuries to rookie Eddie Lacy and veteran James Starks. Starks has been ruled out for Sunday by Coach Mike McCarthy. Lacy sustained a concussion in Week 2 that caused him to miss the road loss to Cincinnati in Game 3.

The Packers have a good backfield rotation when their top three runners are healthy. Starks leads the team with 187 yards and a 5.5-yard average. Johnathan Franklin is second with 103 yards and a 7.9-yard average. Franklin has carried 15 times for 53 yards.

"I think we're blocking a little better up front, and I think we're reading the blocks better than we have in a while," Packers QB Aaron Rodgers said.

Explosion vs. Lions:

Their defense has been susceptible to big plays in all four games. Here are the big plays vs. the defense:

Game 1 vs. Vikings: Adrian Peterson had a 78-yard TD run on the Vikings' first offensive play and Jerome Simpson had a 47-yard catch.

Game 2 at Arizona: 36-yard TD catch by Dante Ellington.

Game 3 at Washington: 30-yard TD run by Alfred Morris.

Game 4 vs. Bears: 53-yard TD run by Matt Forte, 44-yard catch by Alshon Jeffery.

Bare facts:

Most players like to play at Lambeau Field because of the tradition, but the fans add to the atmosphere. It's more like a college environment and not as hostile toward the visiting team as it is in most pro stadiums.

One Packers tradition that does not go unnoticed -- for obvious reasons -- is fans mooning the opposing team's bus when it arrives at the stadium.

Sunday's game will be the fifth trip to Lambeau for Lions quarterback Shaun Hill. He spent his first four NFL seasons with Minnesota, so he is well acquainted with Packers traditions.

"It's more when you arrive," he said of the mooning. "And more middle fingers when you leave."