PFF Preview: Lions @ Packers, Week 17

John Kosko identifies some of the key players in the Week 17 NFC North championship game between Detroit and Green Bay.

| 2 years ago

PFF Preview: Lions @ Packers, Week 17

2014-Prev-WK17-DET@GBIn a game that could determine the No. 1 seed in the NFC, the Detroit Lions (11-4) will try to win their first game in the state of Wisconsin since 1991 against the Green Bay Packers (11-4). Regardless of what happens in Seattle, the winner will be NFC North champions and have a first-round bye while the loser will play a road wild card game next weekend.

Aaron Rodgers has had a fantastic season worthy of his second MVP. The only criticisms Rodgers has against him is that he has truly struggled against elite defenses, especially those that run 4-3 base with excellent defensive linemen. While Rodgers is untouchable at home, all of the games against such defenses have been on the road:  Week 1 at Seattle (+0.2), Week 3 at Detroit (+0.5), and Week 15 at Buffalo (-3.1). That debacle against Buffalo is his worst game since Week 12 of 2008. Also, Rodgers did struggle on the road against Minnesota with a -0.1 (-1.3 pass). This game will be the first time this year that Rodgers will face a truly elite defense at home.

In the Week 3 matchup, the Lions’ defense didn’t get a big performance from any one individual. The top-graded players were DTs Ndamukong Suh (+1.7) and Nick Fairley (+1.6) as well as DBs Darius Slay (+1.5) and Glover Quin (+1.4). Not surprisingly, Suh has been dominant this season (+27.9) both against the run (+18.0) and when rushing the passer (+14.5). If it weren’t for his -6.1 penalty grade, he’d be our top-rated defensive tackle. Suh ranks second in stops (33) and first in total pressures (54) by a DT. In the Week 3, Suh was able to pressure Rodgers three times, recording one sack.

If the Packers’ offensive line can hold Suh in check, Rodgers & Co. will have a field day. If not, expect a Week 3 repeat.

Three things to watch for:

Detroit Lions

Calvin Johnson – Even after missing four weeks, Megatron ranks eighth overall at +14.7 with +10.2 coming in the past four games. While his his lower-than-usual average of 2.44 Yards Per Route Run is down from his normal dominance, his 3.05 YPPR the past four games is closer to his normal numbers after shaking off rust from early-season injuries.

Matthew Stafford – Stafford certainly has had an up-and-down year. After starting the season with a monster +7.2, the former first overall pick graded positively just once in the next 10 games. Stafford’s Accuracy Percentage could be a factor as he ranks 18th at 73.0%.

DeAndre Levy – One of the most consistent linebackers in the league, we graded Levy in the green 10 times this season with only one red negative game. Levy’s 14.5 Run Stop Percentage is the best in the NFL at his position.

Green Bay Packers

Corey Linsley – The Packers’ carousel at center is over as Linsley shook off rookie struggles early in the season to record just one negative game between Weeks 5-15. At +11.0, Linsley is our fifth-highest-rated center and the only rookie to grade positively at the position.

Mike Daniels – If you Packers fans who the best defensive player is for Green Bay, Daniels might not be mentioned often, but his +15.8 is tops for the defense. He has been equally strong rushing the passer (+8.8) as he’s been while defending the run (+8.6).

Morgan Burnett – Safety was a position of concern in the offseason for the Packers and Burnett was a liability. After his -4.8 2013, Burnett has responded to the criticism with a very solid +9.3 in 2014.

Recently at PFF

All-Star Team of the Week: Week 16
ReFo: Lions @ Bears, Week 16
ReFo: Packers @ Buccaneers, Week 16
Packers: Lacy is the perfect fit


| Analyst

John is an analyst for Pro Football Focus and former safety for the University of Kansas Jayhawks (2004–2006).

  • Brian Dugan

    Packers fans are pretty knowledgeable. I think if you asked most fans who the Packers best defensive player is, you would get a split between Matthews and Daniels with a sprinkling of Peppers.

    • mutzki

      For me the effort on defense since the bye week really can’t be tracked down to one single individual, and after last week’s game some might also name Burnett.

    • Steve W

      I’d pick Matthews simply for the energy and speed he’s brought to ILB position when lining up there. It’s been such a help since Capers put him there mid-season. Besides that he’s been lights out in pass rush the last few weeks when lined up on the end.

  • SeattleSteve

    Daniels, Clay, Peppers, and someone dumb would say AJ Hawk.

  • mutzki

    What makes Rodgers great? Well, he makes the incredible look average. After a stat line of 31-40 300+ yards, 1TD and a 108 passer rating you feel like he had an off day. And indeed, he was playing on a bum calf and fighting the flu.

    Here they say he has “truly struggled against elite defenses” and go on to post his grades. Two of the three games he has “struggled” in he received average grades. When average is a struggle, you know you have a keeper.

  • fatwaforall

    -6.7 penalty rating, wow, you guys are jokes