Lions-Packers matchup of the day: Thursday

Posted Dec. 29, 2011 @ 11:49 p.m.
Posted By Dan Arkush

PFW executive editor and resident Packers expert Dan Arkush presents the third of five key matchups in the Packers' Week 17 game against the Lions this Sunday at Lambeau Field.

Lions' CB corps vs. Packers' WR corps

The Packers' receiving corps was greatly improved vs. the Bears last Sunday night in its second game without No. 1 WR Greg Jennings. After looking out of sync against Kansas City, the Green Bay pass catchers pestered the Bears all night long, particularly Jordy Nelson, who had six catches for 115 yards and a pair of TDs, and James Jones, a relative nonfactor in recent weeks, who had four catches for 50 yards and two TDs.

Don't be surprised if the Packers come out of the chute in the same no-huddle mode as they did vs. the Bears, who immediately were put back on their heels and had problems substituting on the Packers' opening possession, which was culminated by Jermichael Finley's two-yard TD catch. Jones was a major weapon in the first game this season vs. Detroit on Thanksgiving Day, coming up with a back-breaking 65-yard TD catch. Jennings will miss his third consecutive game with a knee injury, and rookie Randall Cobb (groin) is looking increasingly iffy.

Detroit's starting CB corps of ex-Brown Eric Wright on the right side and ex-Falcon Chris Houston on the left side has been solid much of the season. Houston came up huge in the Lions' 38-10 rout of San Diego last week (an interception returned for 43 yards and four pass breakups), but his left hand was in a cast the middle of this week because of a dislocated finger. Houston said the injury would not keep him from playing Sunday. Wright has 4.4 speed but has occasional lapses in coverage, as was the case earlier this season vs. the Saints.

Undersized but speedy Aaron Berry and Alphonso Smith enter the fray in nickel and dime sets. Berry has missed the past two games with an injured right shoulder but has been practicing on a limited basis this week and should be able to play. Smith is a hot-and-cold gambler who plays hard.