Ndamukong Suh To Lead Detroit Lions’ Improved D-Line Vs. Packers’ Improved O-Line

September 30, 2010 by

The Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers are probably looking at a mismatched game this Sunday.

Aaron Rodgers against one of the worst back seven in the NFL. The Lions’ struggling, shorthanded offense against the Packers’ thriving sack-machine of a defense.

The Lions’ defensive line vs. the Packers’ offensive line.

Wait a minute. That’s actually worth watching.

Last year, the Lions dominated the Packers’ offensive line at Lambeau (while the Packers dominated everywhere else), bring Aaron Rodgers down five times in that game. That was with a defense that ranked 29th in sacks for the season, playing an offense that gave up a league-high 51 sacks on the season.

This year, the Lions rank third in sacks with 11 through three games. The Packers have given up three sacks all season.

Clearly, both teams have fixed their problems in that area. But now both units come to the test. The Lions are likely up against their toughest offensive line challenge yet, while the Packers come up against one of the league’s toughest defensive lines, backed by a shorthanded running game.

Both units appear improved, but which is more improved? That part could be fun.

Much of the Lions’ success on the pass rush last year was due to the Packers’ major injury concerns on the offensive line. The line has some injury concerns again this year, but they seem to have stepped up their play, at least in pass protection. But just in case, the Packers also drafted Bryan Bulaga to spell and eventually replace oft-injured veteran left tackle Chad Clifton.

But neither Clifton nor Bulaga will be facing the Lions’ biggest threat on the line this year.

Ndamukong Suh, who has keyed a revival on the Lions’ front four, will lead the charge and attempt to slow Aaron Rodgers, who has never thrown for less than 300 yards against the Lions.

Granted, generating a pass rush against Rodgers didn’t help too much last year, but it did force the Packers into a lot of mistakes, and this year the Lions don’t have to trot out Daunte Culpepper, who went 0-for-the-Lions in his career.

Speaking of which, try to recall Culpepper’s 6-for-14, 48-yard performance against the Packers last year before you talk about how Shaun Hill isn’t any good.

The point is, the Lions will score more than zero points this Sunday, which theoretically gives them a chance to win.

It isn’t as though the game is riding on Suh and the pass rush, but he has the opportunity to make a big impact this week, especially with Packers left guard Daryn Colledge playing through a knee injury.

More importantly, this will be the matchup to watch this week. Not just Suh, but Corey Williams, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Cliff Avril, Turk McBride, Sammie Hill. All have been playing at a high level, any could find themselves plowing over Rodgers this weekend.

Most Lions fans are predicting doom, gloom, and Jason Hanson still not knowing what it feels like to win in Green Bay.

That may be exactly what happens. On paper, it’s certainly a mismatch of talent in all the wrong areas for Detroit.

But that battle up front will be an all-out war.

Can Suh fight through the doubles this week? Will Vanden Bosch be able to take advantage of a hobbled Clifton? On the other side, can the Avril/McBride combo get around 33-year-old right tackle (and perpetual underdog) Mark Tauscher, who has never played for a team at any level outside of Wisconsin?

Can those guys hold up against a strong defensive line even if the running game is ineffective and the pass rush intensifies?

Can you wait to find out?

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