Detroit News scouting report: Lions vs. Packers

Detroit News
By Steve Kornacki |  Special to The Detroit News

Packers at Lions

Kickoff: 1 p.m., Sunday, Ford Field

TV/radio: Fox/97.1

Records: Lions 2-13-1; Packers 13-3

Line: Green Bay by 3.5

Detroit News contributor Steve Kornacki breaks down the Lions’ Week 18 matchup with the Green Bay Packers.

Key matchup


What chance does Detroit have of stopping Rodgers after Seattle’s Russell Wilson riddled it for four touchdowns and 236 yards on only 29 pass attempts last week?

A slim one.

That’s the challenge for Detroit — slow down Rodgers to provide some chance to stay in the game against the NFC’s No. 1 seed in the playoffs. Rodgers intends to play despite the Packers clinching their status. The Lions have allowed 28 passing touchdowns, and only three defenses have allowed more.

Rodgers has thrown for 3,977 yards with 35 touchdowns (tied for third-most behind Tom Brady and Matthew Stafford) and four interceptions for a league-leading 111.1 quarterback rating. He could be headed to a fourth MVP award. Rodgers has been a beast for 17 seasons: 55,222 yards (10th all-time), 447 TDs (fifth), just 93 interceptions and a 104.4 rating (third). He joined Brady on the NFL’s All-Decade Team (2010-19).

When his 443rd touchdown pass on Christmas Day surpassed the Packer record held by Brett Favre, a recording of Favre issuing a message was shown on the scoreboard at Lambeau Field: “Hey, 12. Congratulations, man, on passing my touchdown record. I have one request: Go get us another Super Bowl. Congrats.”

Rodgers, once Favre’s backup, got tears in his eyes watching it.

Rodgers has superstar Davante Adams as his go-to receiver. But with No. 2 target and close buddy Randall Cobb injured, Rodgers is clicking with Allen Lazard.

Packers to watch

Davante Adams, WR: He’s the NFL’s top-graded receiver (92.5), according to Pro Football Focus. Adams (6-foot-1, 215 pounds) is No. 2 in the league with 117 receptions, third with 1,498 yards and fifth with 11 touchdowns. He has 8,066 receiving yards since the Packers drafted him in the second round in 2014 out of Fresno State, and is closing in on Sterling Sharpe (8,134 yards) for third on the franchise list behind Donald Driver and James Lofton. He set Green Bay’s single-season receptions record last year and just surpassed it. He equaled Sharpe’s single-season mark of 18 touchdowns in 2020.

De’Vondre Campbell, LB: He leads the Packers with 145 tackles (101 solos), and had 13 tackles (10 solos) against the Lions Sept. 20 at Green Bay. Campbell (6-3, 232) also has six tackles for losses, 2.5 sacks, two interceptions, six quarterback hurries, five passes defended and two forced fumbles. The fourth-round pick by Atlanta out of Minnesota in 2016 has 607 tackles in six seasons.

Rashan Gary, OLB: He’s blossomed this season. Gary (6-5, 277), a first-round pick from Michigan in 2019, leads Green Bay with 9.5 sacks and 28 quarterback hurries. He also has 44 tackles, 25 solos and two forced fumbles. Gary earned four starts last season and became a full-time starter this year.

Facts and figures

►Green Bay coach Matt LaFleur doesn’t get a lot of hype, but his 39 wins are the most by any coach in his first three seasons in the NFL. The Packers have gone 39-9 with him after going 23-24-1 the previous three seasons under Mike McCarthy. LaFleur, 42, born in Mount Pleasant, played receiver at Western Michigan before transferring and setting passing records as a quarterback at Saginaw Valley State. He coached at Saginaw Valley, Northern Michigan, Central Michigan and Notre Dame.

► Jon Runyan, Jr., a sixth-rounder in 2020, has started 15 games in 2021 after being the only Packer rookie to play in every game. Runyan (6-4, 307) is excelling. He had the lead blocks on both of AJ Dillon’s touchdown runs Sunday against the Vikings, and thrives on physical play.

► The St. Brown brothers are on opposite sides of a rivalry once again. Equanimeous, a sixth-rounder out of Notre Dame in 2018, has started two games for the Packers and has seven catches for 76 yards. Amon-Ra, a fourth-rounder from USC in 2021, has 82 catches for 803 yards and four touchdowns for the Lions.

Steve Kornacki is a freelance writer.

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