Who can seize it, and who can stop it

The boy wonder gets two things this week, nicely done!

Big thanks to Wes and other co-workers for managing some extra duty this week while I’ve been in and out of the office or working remotely due to a family matter. I’m going to have to work remotely for the Detroit game, too, live blogging and covering it from the television broadcast (a la the Covid seasons), but we’ll manage. I’m sure Wes will enjoy the extra space on the plane.

Mark from West Des Moines, IA

What is the key for the Packers to beat the Lions?

Don’t let it devolve into a shootout. The Packers’ offense, coming off the 200-yard rushing performance in Buffalo, should turn another corner this week against the bottom-ranked defense in the league. But the Packers’ defense needs to turn its own corner, against an offense that has been hot at home. The Packers could win a shootout, but shouldn’t have to.

Why do you feel the defense has not performed as well as expected given essentially the same group with another year of experience together?

I wish I knew. Maybe it just takes one game to get some swagger back.

A line that continues to come up is the Packers need to play more physical. Is this just a catch-all for winning blocks, sound tackling, and aggressive runs after the catch/carry? Football is inherently one of the most physical sports, so is asking to play more “physical” really just asking to “play better”?

In some respects, yes, but in others, there’s a difference between making a tackle and delivering a hit while making that tackle, between winning your block and finishing your block, etc.

Michael from Morrison, IL

Mike/Wes, the Lions have plenty of firepower on offense and have shown as much against some high-quality teams. Where do you see Detroit focusing its efforts against the Packers’ defense and what players would play a vital role in that?

Goff has spread the ball around in the passing game, but that equation changes now with the Hockenson trade. He had been the Lions’ leading receiver yardage-wise with 395 (and three TDs). St. Brown and Reynolds are both well over 300 yards with multiple TDs as well, but the absence of Hockenson probably puts even greater onus on the Packers’ corners now. Detroit is also the No. 3 red-zone offense in the league (72%, 18 TDs in 25 trips), and running back Jamaal Williams (eight TDs) is a big reason for that. D’Andre Swift also might be back now so they could have a 1-2 punch again if they choose to lean on it.

I don’t really believe in the “lowly Lions” thought process, and thinking that way is a recipe for disaster. Their best offensive playmakers were out or limited against the Patriots and Cowboys. For the remainder, they lost by four or less to Miami, Seattle, the Vikings and the Eagles, all very solid teams. I get the feeling this will be a close game where scoring a lot of points matters. So the steps we saw the offense take against the Bills must continue against what should be a weaker D.

Scott from Noblesville, IN

Perhaps it’s me, but I find myself wondering the last time our guys got an early lead on the Lions. It seems like “having to come back to beat them” has been the trend for the past several seasons. I’m not certain a “good strong start” to a game with them has ever been more crucial than IN Detroit on Sunday.

You may be right, but then again, Miami was down 14 early at Ford Field and rallied quickly, taking the lead before the fourth quarter rolled around. That said, with the offensive firepower the Lions have shown at home and the Packers’ disturbing tendency to suffer through a string of possessions allowing scores, this game strikes me as one of momentum. Who can seize it, and who can stop it when it’s heading the wrong direction.

Regarding the Bears’ moves at the trading deadline, I think the idea behind getting Claypool is to see what they have in Fields. The current regime did not draft Fields so maybe giving him another weapon to see if he takes the next step and is truly their QB of the future is behind the trade. Looking at what giving playmakers to other young QBs (Tua in Miami and Hurts in Philadelphia) has done for their development, I can see the reasoning behind the move.

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