Commentary

How to beat the Green Bay Packers

It can be done, but Lions will need to generate pressure from their front four

Originally Published: November 23, 2011
By Dean Oliver and Jason Starrett | ESPN Insider
Aaron Rodgers and Julius PeppersDoug Pensinger/Getty ImagesTeams have been able to get pressure on Aaron Rodgers so far this season.

Putting together a game plan to defeat an opponent requires a combination of understanding your opponent and understanding yourself. Neither on its own is enough to beat the best teams -- unless of course you are the best team.

In their matchup with the Green Bay Packers this Thanksgiving, the Detroit Lions aren't the better team. They are a good team, though, so Detroit has a chance in this one if it doesn't betray who it is and if it really understands how the Packers are winning.

The first, and most obvious, thing that Detroit has to do to give the Packers their first loss is to not give the game away on the offensive end. They did exactly that against the Bears in Week 10, in one of their worst offensive performances of the year. The Bears put 37 points on the board, but at least half of those were from Detroit's offensive mistakes and special teams. The Bears just happened to be on the field when the Lions decided to be more generous than the Salvation Army. Against the Packers, the Lions offense needs to simply "manage the game" -- code for "don't turn the ball over."

That's the easy part. The harder part is how to slow down Green Bay's offense. When the editors gave me the task of writing this topic, they specifically said, "How do you beat Aaron Rodgers?" Not "How do you beat the Packers?" Not "How do you stop the Packers' offense?" They understood that beating the Packers means stopping Rodgers. And given that no one has really slowed him down this year, I knew it wouldn't be an easy assignment.