The Green Bay Packers have lost four of their last five games. If they hope to remain competitive for the NFC North title, they need to defeat the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on Thursday Night Football.
Since returning from a Week 7 bye, Green Bay's offense has endured all manner of issues. In particular, injuries continue to hold back the unit. Every starting offensive lineman has appeared on the injury report along with most of the receiving corps. Star running back Eddie Lacy has seen his production dip, forcing the coaching staff to bench him for a spell. However, what has truly hindered the Packers offensively has been the accuracy issues of reigning MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
At the time of the team's bye, Rodgers' completion percentage sat around 70 percent. Following his most recent performance -- a 22-of-43 showing against the Chicago Bears -- that figure has fallen to 60.5 percent on the year. Drops have certainly factored into the equation -- seemingly every receiver targeted over the month has let at least one ball go through his hands. However, Rodgers has also missed receivers long, short and wide at a frequency not seen during his career as a starter. The Packers rely on Rodgers to cover up their deficiencies and not the other way around. Until the signal caller corrects his play, expect the offensive struggles to persist.
Meanwhile in Detroit, the Lions suddenly find themselves in the midst of a three-game winning streak. That streak, which began against these very same Packers on Nov. 15, kicked off after the Lions dumped embattled offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi. While the offense continues to struggle at times, it has shown greater ability to get the ball into the hands of playmakers Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate compared to the Lombardi version.
They're also fresh off their best offensive game. Last week during their annual Thanksgiving contest, the Lions' offense shined and put up a season-high 45 points in a rout against the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Detroit coaching staff needs every win it can get. Everyone on the chopping block after Lions owner Martha Firestone Ford fired team president Tom Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew earlier this season. Though Ron Wood has replaced Lewand, the team has yet to name a full-time replacement for the GM.
If head coach Jim Caldwell and his staff have any hope of holding on to their jobs past 2015, they need to finish the season on a strong note. A win over Green Bay could go a long way toward that end. The Packers overtook the Lions for the NFC North title in the final game of the 2014 season, a fact that may have contributed to the massive changes in Detroit. If the Lions keep their rival out of contention for the division crown while extending their win streak to four games, the argument to keep Caldwell becomes considerably stronger. Defeating a good, if stumbling, Packers team would effectively demonstrate improvement, and that could be enough to avoid a coaching change.
The Packers come into the week with a 7-4 record, one game back of the Minnesota Vikings in the division. The Lions enter at 4-7.
How to Watch
When: 8:25 p.m. ET
Where: Ford Field, Detroit
TV: CBS, NFL Network
Commentators: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson