Lions-Packers matchup of the day: Saturday

Posted Dec. 31, 2011 @ 12:07 p.m.
Posted By Dan Arkush

Lions LB corps vs. Packers RB corps

Both teams' high-octane passing games flourished last week, and a continued focus on the pass is probable at Lambeau Field Sunday. But the team that most effectively utilizes its running backs, both as rushers and receivers, will more likely come out on top, and that could tilt the scales in the Packers' favor, with Ryan Grant suddenly resembling his old self at just the right time. Grant appears to have traded places with James Starks as the Packers' primary back entering the playoffs. In the last three games, he has 30 carries for 195 yards rushing (6.5 yards per carry) and is doing an excellent jobs picking his holes and weaving for extra yards. Starks, meanwhile, continues to be bothered by knee and ankle injuries. He has not practiced all week and is unlikely to play Sunday. Don't be surprised if rookie Brandon Saine, who had a nice run of eight yards last Sunday vs. the Bears, and FB John Kuhn, who had zero touches last week, get more involved in the action this Sunday.

Detroit's run defense is ranked a lowly 26th in rushing yards allowed and dead last in average gain per rush (5.1 yards). The Lions have given up at least 129 yards rushing in eight games and at least 195 yards rushing in three games, including a whopping 269 yards a few weeks backs against the Vikings minus Adrian Peterson. Detroit did limit the Packers to only 53 yards rushing in the first game vs. Green Bay on Thanksgiving Day.

MLB Stephen Tulloch, a former tackling machine for the Titans, and WLB DeAndre Levy are peas in a pod who hit hard and have good speed and athleticism. Tulloch leads the Lions with 104 tackles and has a pair of interceptions. Levy is second in tackles (100) and has an interception and a forced fumble. On the strong side, Justin Durant also hits hard and runs well, but he can get knocked around inside. Durant has a team-leading five stuffs.