The Detroit Lions haven't won at Lambeau Field in 22 years, but along that way, they've had some close calls. Given Detroit's resurgent play in 2013, there's some definite temptation from plenty to think this is the year one of the ugliest streaks of futility in football ends.
As anyone who watches the Lions knows, though, that will not come easy. Detroit is fighting plenty of elements this time around, including some injuries and the usual Lambeau ghosts which show up to play Lucy with the football to their perpetual Charlie Brown. How might Detroit finally avoid the nonsense and win? Here's five things to watch.
1. Which Old Ghosts Show Up This Time? The Lions seem to lose in creative and mystical ways in Wisconsin (see plays like last year's fumble by Matthew Stafford). In addition to that, there's been untimely interceptions, weird meltdowns and heroic performances by marginal players within their 22 year losing streak (do the names Samkan Gado and Matt Flynn mean anything to you?) In 2013, Detroit fans have to wonder what's next. Can the Lions manage to play one in Green Bay without anything weird happening? The answer might help explain if they finally win or lose.
2. Calvin Johnson's Production. The last few weeks, "Johnson" from the Nike commercial must be suiting up on the field, as "Calvin" has been wildly inconsistent. He caught a touchdown against the Bears, two against the Cardinals and one against Washington, but otherwise, he's only gone over 100 yards twice (against Arizona and Washngton) and has seen his two lowest games with regards to yardage against NFC North foes. Some of this is a result of Reggie Bush's production, but to win at Lambeau Field, the Lions need big things from Johnson as well as Bush, with regards to yardage and scores.
3. Secondary Health. This week, three important members of Detroit's secondary were missing from practice, in Louis Delmas, Glover Quin and Chris Houston. All were dinged up in the Lions' physical win over Chicago, and all are questionable for Sunday's game against Green Bay. The only somewhat healthy member of the secondary is Rashean Mathis, and the Lions feared he sustained a concussion against Chicago. If one or more of these players can't go, it could be a long day for Detroit against Aaron Rodgers, who will carve up the likes of Darius Slay and Don Carey.
4. Can Green Bay Slow Reggie Bush? Bush has put in two fantastic performances against Chicago and Minnesota, so the only team left in the division is Green Bay. How will the Packers slow him? Can they stop the run as well as the threat of Bush in the passing game? With Clay Matthews and others dinged up on their defense, that could be a chore. If Bush gets loose again, the Packers will have a tough time containing Detroit's offense, who might simply chew up the clock and run away with a win considering their other weapons.
5. Special Teams. Last season, we saw Mason Crosby struggle wildly with his kicking in Detroit. This year, he's been a bit better, making all four field goals he's attempted. David Akers has straightened himself out lately, but his last rough game came on the road against Arizona. Return game wise, both the Packers and Lions have struggled, but Michael Spurlock hasn't been fumbling like Green Bay's revolving door of returners have, and had a fantastic play last week. A play on special teams might help either team win, or in the case of both Detroit and Green Bay, lose as well.
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