One Step Closer - Packers: 27 Lions: 20
Comparing football teams from year to year is rather silly. Rosters change dramatically from one season to the next. Players age, coaches come and go, injuries come in waves, and teams remain in a constant state of flux from week to week, much less from season to season. For that reason, it's a little bit disconcerting to see people compare the 2012 Packers to their Super Bowl winning 2010 counterparts.
Having said that, the similarities are there. A roster ravaged by injuries, a revolving door at running back, and defensive question marks all are common between the 2010 team and this year's squad, along with that "just win" mentality, especially over the last few weeks. It doesn't always have to be pretty, just get the win and get into the postseason.
That was certainly the case last night at Lambeau. Swirling winds and wet footballs (just ask Matthew Stafford) put a damper on the offenses, which led to an abrupt shift to the run game for both teams. And this was no beautiful, Gale Sayers-esque open-field running. Nope, this was down and dirty, grind it out, head down, knees pumping (insert sportswriting cliche here) running. In other words, it was just what you'd expect at Lambeau Field in December.
What's more important though is this: the Packers now have a virtual lock on the NFC North, thanks in part to a Chicago loss this weekend (thanks Adrian Peterson!). As good as yesterday's win was, a playoff berth is even better, and the Packers are now one step closer to putting a trip to playoffs on ice.
Tramon Williams - The biggest, most important matchup in Sunday's game was between Tramon Williams and Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson, and although Johnson caught 10 passes for 118 yards, you'd be hard pressed to not give the overall win to Williams. Johnson failed to score a touchdown and didn't have a catch of longer than 20 yards, thanks mostly to the efforts of Mr. Williams.
Alex Green - It's been said that a rising tide carries all boats, and that may be true of the Packer running back corps. As the group as a whole has played better, Alex Green seems to have raised his game to keep up. He ran hard Sunday, picking up 69 yards on 13 hard-charging carries.
Mike Daniels - If you're a fat man who scores a touchdown of greater than 40 yards, you get mentioned in the post-game awards by default. That's a rule.
22 - Total designed runs (for 108 yards) by the Packers on Sunday, not including three very effective scrambles by Aaron Rodgers. Mike McCarthy has shown a pretty strong commitment to the run so far this year, and it appears to be paying off down the stretch. The Packers have now had pretty solid rushing efforts in back-to-back weeks.
3 - Sacks allowed by the Packers' offensive line. Rodgers' mobility undoubtedly saved a couple more, but by and large, the Packers did a pretty good job protecting the franchise on Sunday.
7 - The apparent number of choice for Randall Cobb who, with seven receptions and 102 yards Sunday, now has 71 receptions for 777 yards and seven touchdowns. It was also Cobb's seventh start of the season, because of course it was. And if you really want to stretch, it was the seventh time this season Cobb has had at least 66 receiving yards in a game.
Three-Headed Monster - Raise your hand if you thought the Packers' running attack would feature Alex Green, DuJuan Harris, and Ryan Grant in December. Now put your hand down, because you're lying. There's been a revolving door at the running back position this year, but (knock on wood) everything appears to be settled for the time being. Green ran hard for the second consecutive week, and although it's an extremely small sample size, DuJuan Harris hit the hole hard and showed a willingness to lower his head and grind out yards. What's more, Ryan Grant has fresh legs and may be able to provide a few carries in relief.
Johnson Contained - It's hard to call 10 catches and 118 yards "containing" anyone, but Calvin Johnson is an exception. Megatron has been insane this year, and keeping him from reaching his usual levels of ridiculous production should be recognized as the significant accomplishment that it is.
Streak's Alive - The media made much of the fact that Detroit hadn't won in Green Bay in over two decades, seemingly trying to give a reason why Detroit might be due for a win. Well, they'll have to wait until at least next year to end that streak, because it's not changing any time soon.
Three One Bad
D-Line Depth - It's hard to complain when the Packers come away with a win in a game where they held the ball for less than 23 minutes, but one thing that was painfully obvious was the Packers have a lack of capable defensive linemen right now. With Mike Neal and C.J. Wilson both out, the Lions were able to run against an increasingly worn out front seven. It didn't cost the Packers...this time. Yes, they did come away with the win, but eventually the injuries will catch up. Hopefully, the Packers are healthy in time to make sure those injuries don't catch up in the playoffs.
Up Next - The Packers head to Chicago for a noon date with the Bears and a chance to wrap up the NFC North and the playoff spot that goes with it.