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Lions vs. Packers: Players Who Must Step Up for Detroit to Win NFC North Clash

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 22:  Mikel Leshoure #25 of the Detroit Lions looks for open running room while playing the Houston Texans at Ford Field on November 22, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. Houston won the game 34-31. Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Ian HanfordFeatured ColumnistDecember 9, 2012

The Detroit Lions nearly defeated the Green Bay Packers in Week 11, and they will try to avenge that loss in Week 14's edition of Sunday Night Football.

If the Lions want to enjoy a better outcome on Sunday, many things have to go their way. A few of those things surround certain players and not necessarily the stars like Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford.

The Lions must slow down Green Bay's passing attack and hope to keep the Packers' defense honest with an all-around attack of their own.

In order for these things to happen, these three players must play a big game.

 

Mike Thomas

Thomas is the team's only capable No. 2 option next to Johnson with Titus Young and Ryan Broyles both sidelined.

He only has three catches in five games this season with the Lions, but if Detroit wants to win, he has to become a threat on the outside. Other than him, the Lions are looking at Kris Durham and Kasim Osgood as potential targets.

Thomas would be more suited for the slot, but he has to adapt here. The Packers are susceptible to the pass, and big plays should be there if Detroit can take advantage.

Johnson is still the No. 1 target. Thomas doesn't need to have a tremendous game, but he must take attention away from Johnson and force the Packers' defense to focus elsewhere.

If he can play his best game of the season, he will improve Detroit's chances drastically.

 

Mikel Leshoure

The Lions' ground game is almost always the key, and the same holds true in Week 14.

Leshoure has 591 yards and seven touchdowns this season. His north-south style will carve through the Packers' defense, but he must run with a purpose.

Leshoure has a touchdown in each of his last three games, including an 84-yard, one-score game versus the Packers in Week 11. He already has the experience versus this defense, so that should give him an advantage this time around.

Green Bay's defense is far from perfect, but a one-dimensional attack will only take the Lions so far. Leshoure has to shoulder some of the load, especially with Detroit's receivers on the mend.

If the Lions want to have a chance, their offense must be well-rounded and ready to exploit the Packers in any way possible.

 

Drayton Florence

Everyone knows that the Packers are going to throw the football.

According to Detroit Free Press reporter Dave Birkett, the Lions are dealing with injuries in the secondary. Louis Delmas, Chris Houston and Jacob Lacey are all listed as questionable in the game, even though Houston and Lacey are expected to play.

Even if Houston and Lacey play though, it's hard to tell how healthy they will really be. Florence will have to step up in either case as the Lions try to slow down Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' deadly passing attack.

Florence has one interception this season, but his veteran savvy can go a long way. It's better than sticking a rookie player back there and expecting him to stand up to Green Bay's dynamic receiving corps.

He's not a true No. 1 corner, but he has to put forth a great effort Sunday night. If he can't, Rodgers will have a field day.

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