The Green Bay Packers (1-2) host the Detroit Lions (3-1) on Sunday at Lambeau Field in what could help itch the Packers closer to the top of the NFC North, or give the Lions the opportunity to break away from the Pack in the division.
"You have to look at their first four games, they're a very talented football team," Packers head coach Mike McCarthy said. "I think they are playing very well, they are confident too. Division games are tough and it'll be no different with these guys."
Last season, the Lions won only four games and one reason for their drastic improvement in 2013 is the addition of running back Reggie Bush, who has become enough of a dynamic offensive weapon to keep opposing defensive units away from All-Pro wide receiver Calvin Johnson.
"Reggie Bush has made an impact," McCarthy said. "He is impressive out of the backfield. (Quarterback) Matthew Stafford is doing a very good job, they're playing quick. This will be a challenge for our defense."
McCarthy noted not only praised the Lions' offense but their defense as well. Through three games, the Lions' defense has forced 11 turnovers in four games, thanks in large part to defensive tackles Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh, who McCarthy calls "dynamic players".
Suh and Fairley have combined to record 3.5 sacks and three tackles for loss in four games for the Lions and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is well aware of Detroit's fearsome two. "They have a real good pass rush," Rodgers said. "Anytime you play a division opponent it comes down to the trenches."
Rodgers said he has been very happy with the progress of the Packers' offensive line, as the Packers have the third-best offense through the first four weeks, thanks heavily to the offensive line. But facing Suh, Fairley and company should be another tremendous test for the offensive line though.
"The line that can win the battle will usually come out on top," Rodgers said. "It's going to be important for us to find that rhythm at home and our crowd will get involved and hopefully make it difficult for their offensive line."
The Packers are only 1-2 on the young 2013 season, but Rodgers says for the Packers to bounce back, it is all about trusting the preparation and the routine. "Coming back with a positive attitude will be important," Rodgers said. "I think it'll be important to permeate throughout the team."
The Lions haven't won at Lambeau Field since 1991, but the Packers know it won't help their chances on Sunday. "This is a division game," McCarthy said. "The importance of the division games and success is very important. Last year is last year, the last two decades is the last two decades."
McCarthy and Rodgers both know coming back from a potential 1-3 hole will be difficult, but Rodgers said he is looking at this game with a glass half-full mentality. "This is a fun game, division games have an extra intensity to them," Rodgers said. "If you can come out on top, you are sitting pretty in the division. They have a good recipe. It's a team that is playing good and it's going to be a tough test."
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