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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
~ 2008 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late

Prediction: GB 24, DET 20

Update: Ryan Grant continues to be hampered by his hamstring and is listed as questionable again this week. He was limited in practice this week but is expected to play. Since Grant is not 100%, the Packers intend on using Brandon Jackson more this week though he is returning from a minor concussion last Sunday. There is a chance that the Packers may even resort to using undrafted rookie Kregg Lumpkin for a few plays if both Grant and Jackson need any help. I am lowering Grant's numbers and adding Jackson in. Ruvell Martin has been limited in practice because of a finger but should play, The Packers will be returning James Jones this week who could cut into Martin's playing time.

It is a new year but while the Packers have moved on with a new quarterback, the Lions are still a team in search of a defense. The Packers outlasted the Vikings on Monday night but the Lions just were pummeled by a rebuilding team with a rookie quarterback that only won four games last year. Not a good sign that 2008 is going to be a new and better year.

The Packers swept the Lions last year, winning 37-26 in Detroit and later 34-13 in Green Bay in the final game of the season.

Green Bay Packers (1-0)
Homefield: Lambeau Field
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 MIN 24-19 -3 38.5
2 @DET - -3 45
3 DAL - - -
4 @TB - - -
5 ATL - - -
6 @SEA - - -
7 IND - - -
8 BYE - - -
9 @TEN - - -
10 @MIN - - -
11 CHI - - -
12 @NO - - -
13 CAR - - -
14 HOU - - -
15 @JAX - - -
16 @CHI - - -
17 DET - - -
GBP at DET Rush Catch Pass
QB Aaron Rodgers 20   250,2
RB Ryan Grant 60,1 10  
RB Brandon Jackson 30 20  
TE Donald Lee   20  
WR Donald Driver   90,1  
WR Greg Jennings   100,1  
WR Ruvell Martin   20  
PK Mason Crosby 1 FG 3 XP  
Pregame Notes: After all the incessant, mind-numbing and boring discussions and comparisons of Aaron Rodgers were done, the new quarterback had won his first game against a good defense in the visiting Vikings. The ground game started slowly but came to life and the defense did about as good against Adrian Peterson as could be expected. The Packers appear in good hands still though it will take weeks before the announcers accept it and move on.

Quarterback: His first official start in the NFL was a win. Nothing major with 178 passing yards and one touchdown but Aaron Rodgers brought in two obvious differences as the new starter. He ran the ball eight times for 35 yards and one score which Favre would have needed two years to complete and Rodgers had no turnovers or sacks. Where was the fumble? Where was the "someone is bound to catch this" pass turned interception? Ends up that was still in New York playing for the Jets while Rodgers just throws when he needs to and runs when he must.

Favre passed for 381 yards and three scores in Detroit last year but only had 99 yards and two scores in the home meeting with the Lions.

Running Backs: Ryan Grant ran like he was rusty to start the Vikings game but he loosened up in the second half and ended with 92 yards on only 12 carries thanks to a 57-yard run. Brandon Jackson had seven carries in relief of Grant but only gained 12 yards. The Packers did not want to overwork Grant in his first game action since injuring his hamstring and Grant complained about his hamstring during halftime last week. Expect for Jackson to once again have more than just a relief role.

Grant rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries in Detroit last season and later only had 57 yards on six carries with one score in the home meeting. Brandon Jackson rushed for 113 yards on 20 carries in that week 17 game.

Wide Receivers: The first game was not that heavy with the pass but Rodgers primarily focused on his two main wideouts Donald Driver (4-38) and Greg Jennings (5-91). Driver had a 60 yard reception for a score called back on a meaningless penalty. The most encouraging sign here was that Rodgers showed ample arm strength on deep throws to Jennings. The passing stats should be up this week with a trip to Detroit and that will directly benefit Jennings and Driver.

Driver had ten catches for 147 yards in Detroit last year while Jennings only had five catches for 60 yards but two touchdowns. The second meeting did not include either player since it was week 17 and the Packers no longer cared.

Tight Ends: Rodgers only threw four passes to his tight ends and three went to Donald Lee who only had ten yards. But Lee remains a viable endzone target for the future and almost scored last week.

Franks had 34 yards and a score in the second meeting with the Lions last year but Lee only had ten yards in the first game and did not play in the meaningless week 17 game.

Match Against the Defense: It rarely gets much better than playing the Lions (ask the Falcons) and this should be a chance for Rodgers to display more passing ability now that he has a bit of confidence and a chance to show what he can do on the road. Grant rushed for 101 yards in Detroit last year, but that was the only time they gave up 100 yards at home. With Favre gone, expect the rushing game to get more focus and Grant to end shy of the century mark and score no more than once. The Lions at home really are different than the team that gave Michael Turner all the resistance of a Slip-N-Slide last week.

Rodgers gets to win this game and he certainly can. Dre Bly is gone and not replaced and even the rookie Matt Ryan opened his career with a touchdown on his very first pass. Chances are Jennings is better than Michael Jenkins. Look for a very solid passing effort here by Rodgers that benefits the wide receivers the most.

Gaining Fantasy Points GB 5 19 22 27 15 9
Preventing Fantasy Points DET 6 32 16 11 29 18

Detroit Lions (0-1)
Homefield: Ford Field
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @ATL 21-34 -3 41
2 GB - +3 45
3 @SF - - -
4 BYE - - -
5 CHI - - -
6 @MIN - - -
7 @HOU - - -
8 WAS - - -
9 @CHI - - -
10 JAX - - -
11 @CAR - - -
12 TB - - -
13 TEN - - -
14 MIN - - -
15 @IND - - -
16 NO - - -
17 @GB - - -
DET vs GB Rush Catch Pass
QB Jon Kitna     250,2
RB Kevin Smith 70 40  
TE Michael Gaines   20  
WR Roy Williams   60,1  
WR Calvin Johnson   100,1  
WR Shaun McDonald   20  
PK Jason Hanson 2 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Lions defense took no time before falling apart this year. They allowed 21 points in the first quarter last week to the Atlanta Falcons. The same team that scored more than 21 points only three times all year (and using all four quarters to do it). It was a horrible kickoff to the year to a team accustomed to starting from a hole. The new addition of Kevin Smith at best gets an incomplete grade but the dumping of the old Martz offense has had one great side effect. Now only Calvin Johnson and Roy Williams matter in the passing game.

Quarterback: Jon Kitna was placed in "catch up" mode from the start and though the game was over by halftime, Kitna managed to pass for 262 yards and two scores with only one interception. He was clearly dedicated to connecting with Calvin Johnson though his scores went to Roy Williams and Casey Fitzsimmons. Last week was not a great measuring stick for the offense since they were down 21-0 before they could blink last week. Back at home should be a better indicator of what to expect from the new scheme.

Kitna had similar results in the two meetings with the Packers last year. He passed for 224 and 246 yards and scored once in each game.

Running Backs: The rookie Kevin Smith gained 48 yards on 16 carries for a meager 3.0 yard average but he did score once and added four catches for 32 yards. His rushing totals were especially disappointing given that the Falcons had such a lead that they were not as concerned against the run. Rudi Johnson was given three carries later in the game and gained 14 yards. Smith looked good as a receiver and as a runner on several plays but overall the rushing attack hasn't been an upgrade yet.

Kevin Jones gained 93 yards and a score on 20 carries when the Packers visited last year.

Wide Receivers: The new scheme thankfully does not use four wideouts all the time as it did with Mike Martz. Now only Calvin Johnson (7-107) and Roy Williams (3-47, 1 TD) mattered. Given the state of the Lions defense, it is a certainty that Johnson and Williams will remain the focal point of this offense.

Calvin Johnson had seven receptions for 83 yards and a score when the Packers visited last year while WIlliams on caught three passes for 32 yards. The next meeting in Green Bay only had Johnson with 54 yards and Williams did not play.

Tight Ends: Dan Campbell was just placed on Injured Reserve and that leaves Casey Fitzsimmons and MIchael Gaines as the under-used tight ends.

Match Against the Defense: The Packers defense has not changed almost at all since last year and while the Lions are installing a new offense, the results should not differ much from 2007. Look for Kevin Smith to find more running room at home but the Packers are decent against the run and should prevent Smith from getting enough carries for a big game.

Kitna brings a new passing scheme against the Packers but it's only using two wideouts and the Packers are strongest on their corners. That will limit what the offense can do though by sheer volume of passes Williams and Johnson are must starts for a fantasy team this week. Look for the Packers to get a lead and force the Lions to look for the wideouts.

Gaining Fantasy Points DET 6 21 5 9 28 28
Preventing Fantasy Points GB 23 23 9 20 22 2

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