How will the Green Bay Packers respond to their first real challenge in a long while this Thanksgiving against the Detroit Lions?
That’s the million dollar question.
As it stands, the Packers come into this outing riding high with a 10-0 record and the first 11-0 start in franchise history in their sights. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is the odds on favorite to win the NFL MVP award this year, and he is currently leading an offense that has averaged 39.5 points per game over their last four showings.
The only real question mark -- offensively -- heading into this game is running back James Starks, who’s status is uncertain after he sprained his knee in the last game against the Tampa Bay Bucs. For the year, Starks has totaled up 541 rushing yards, one touchdown and 28 receptions. If he’s not ready to go, the rushing onus will fall on Ryan Grant, who has put together a quiet 267-yard, eight-reception 2011 showing.
Rodgers currently has racked up 31 touchdowns and four interceptions en route to 3,168 passing yards, and in doing so stands as the league’s leader in touchdown passes and pass efficiency. Although the Lions clearly possess a ferocious pass defense, you have to figure that he’ll find a way to dissect that group just as he has all other comers over the course of this historically great campaign.
Then again, maybe not.
The Lions have given up the fifth fewest passing yards in the NFL this season with just under 193 per game. They’ve also forced opposing quarterbacks to make mistakes, racking up 15 interceptions on the year – second most in the league. A week after intercepting rookie Cam Newton four times, they’ll be chomping at the bit to add some blemishes to Rodgers’ otherwise spotless record.
Detroit’s offense doesn’t get as many headlines as Green Bay’s does, but it’s not for a lack of production. Currently, the Lions rank third in the league in scoring with just over 30 points per game, and eighth in passing yards with around 272 yards per outing.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford has racked up 25 touchdowns and 10 interceptions en route to 2,834 passing yards on the season. He has proven time and time again that he has the ability to be truly prolific, and it’s just a matter of the young passer putting it all together on a more consistent basis.
And Stafford won’t get a better opportunity to put it all together than he will this Thanksgiving against a porous Packers defense. Currently, Green Bay is giving up over 289 passing yards per game, a mark good for second worst in the league. The pass-rush has been particularly underwhelming this season, with inferior quarterbacks seemingly having all of the time in the world to deliver passes week in and week out. The defense’s lone saving grace, really, is its league-leading 19 interceptions – something that’s a credit to the corners who have compensated for what would otherwise be a disastrously erratic pass rush.
Will the Lions be able to shock the world?
Tune in Thursday to find out.