NFC North Marathon begins with the Detroit Lions for the Green Bay Packers

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Five of the Green Bay Packers’ seven remaining games will come against NFC North opponents. That should make for a very interesting division battle as Green Bay (6-3) sits just one game back of the Chicago Bears (7-2).

The marathon begins with the Detroit Lions who are coming off a tough 34-24 loss to the Minnesota Vikings and will need every game they can get in order to make the playoffs.

Detroit Lions (4-5) Analysis: The Lions’ best player in Calvin Johnson doesn’t have the Madden Curse, but rather is suffering from what I call fantasy syndrome. Just because he has only two touchdowns on the season, the general public feels like Megatron is having a bad year. When in fact Calvin is leading the league with 974 receiving yards and is coming off his most dominant performance of the year with 12 catches for 207 yards and a touchdown. Packers corner Tramon Williams has a daunting task ahead of him because the uber-talented Johnson commands the attention of an entire opposing defense.

In last year’s regular season finale, the Lions let Packers’ former back-up Matt Flynn torch their defense en route to a 45-41 Green Bay win. The loss was downright embarrassing for a team that was heading to the playoffs. It’s an whole new year and the Packers are not near where they were last season offensively. Lions tackles Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh are playing extremely well right now and should give the Packers mediocre offensive line some problems.

Green Bay Packers (6-3) Analysis: Even though the Packers were on a bye week, they were dealt another crushing blow on the injury front as offensive lineman Bryan Bulaga became the 11th player sent to injured reserve this year. The scary part is that Bulaga was actually having a good season, meaning an existing weakness for the Packers could become more of a problem. The Packers will also be without Greg Jennings (groin) who’s still recovering from surgery, but may welcome back Jordy Nelson (ankle) who was cleared to practice this week.

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has to be licking his chops that he won’t have to see Clay Matthews on the other side of the field as the star linebacker will sit the game out with a nagging hamstring injury. This will put a lot of pressure on the Packers young secondary to stop a Lions team who loves to pass the ball around.

Prediction: Packers 40 Lions 30

This game has all the indicators of a classic barn-burner. The Packers defense is playing without one of their best players and it’s the kind of tempo that both of these teams prefer. I could see the Lions winning because they need this game badly, but I’m siding with history. Packers head coach, Mike McCarthy, is 11-1 against Detroit and 5-1 after the Packers have a bye week.

TV Coverage: FOX 12:00 PM CT including Joe Buck (play-by-play) and Troy Aikman (color) with Pam Oliver on the sidelines.

Betting Lines: Packers favored by 3.5 with over/under set at 52.5 points.

2012 Record straight up: 5-4

2012 Record against the spread: 2-7

2012 Record in over/under: 7-2

What are you most looking forward in the Packers and Lions game? Let me know by commenting below.

Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice and pretend to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best. If social media is not your thing, shoot him an email at grays@uwalumni.com.

Pictures:

Aaron Rodgers (packersnews.com)

Calvin Johnson (bleacherreport.com)

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