I think we all would agree - and when I say all of us, I mean the organization, players, fans, everybody - that it's time for the Green Bay Packers to step out this weekend and show the real team that's capable of winning the division and hitting the playoffs on a high note.
The Packers - as we all know - started out with a win, lost four in a row, then won six in a row, and have now lost one. It's time to start another streak. I think one of the Packers' problems this season has been not showing enough consistency.
But the good news is that the leaders on this team understand the magnitude of this game and will be able to pull the Packers together and lead them to where they want to go. Winning this game against the Detroit Lions will put the Packers well on their way to reaching their goal of winning the NFC North.
The Lions had a big victory last week over the Arizona Cardinals, but if you look at their offense, they have had an up-and-down season. They've shown that they are a team that can sometimes throw the ball and a team that has run the ball very well at times.
Their rookie running back, Kevin Jones, had 196 yards on the ground last Sunday, so he's a very capable running back. But if you remember the last team the Packers' defense really dominated, it was these Detroit Lions. They held them to 125 total yards earlier when they played in Detroit.
That will probably be on the minds of these Lions' players, so they will be looking for revenge. But if they come in here thinking they are going to run the ball, that will work against them seeing as how the Packers have been playing very well against the run.
I expect the Detroit Lions to come out and throw the ball almost 50 times on Sunday. I think they will spread receivers all over the field and try to exploit some of the weaknesses that they have seen the last two weeks in the Green Bay pass defense.
The Lions have some good receivers with their rookie first-rounder Roy Williams, Az Hakim and Tai Streets, so the Packers will need to show they have made the necessary corrections since last week and shut down the Detroit passing game.
A key to slowing down the passing game will be for the Packers to put a lot of pressure on quarterback Joey Harrington, something he's shown that he doesn't handle very well. Look for Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila to get back on the stat sheet with a couple of sacks this week. Cullen Jenkins and or Cletidus Hunt have to get pressure up the middle to rush Harrington's throws.
The Detroit offense is based on timing. If the Packers jam the receivers and tight ends coming off the line as they get into their pass patterns, it will throw the timing off and force Harrington into some mistakes. If you remember that game in Detroit, Darren Sharper took advantage of a Harrington mistake and ran an interception back 36 yards for a touchdown.
On offense, you have to understand that the Packers have a potential Pro Bowl player in Javon Walker and they should establish him early on in the game, especially going up against a shorter cornerback like Dré Bly.
The most important aspect of the offense this week will be to get the running game going and get Ahman Green going again.
One thing that could cause some difficulty for the Packers in running the ball, though, is that the Lions' best defensive player is in the middle of their line in defensive tackle Shaun Rogers. He has been destroying interior linemen all season, but I think the combination of Marco Rivera, Mike Wahle and whoever starts at center - either Grey Ruegamer or Scott Wells - will be up to the challenge to win the battle in the trenches.
Look for the Packers to use some trap-blocking schemes to help neutralize Rogers. They may let him come through the initial block and then hit him with a pulling guard, with the running back running a quick hitter up the seam in the line.
The game plan for the Packers is simple: score as many points as possible, put doubt in the Lions early, and dominate them all day long. Look for the Packers to start fast, get a lot of help from the Lambeau Field crowd and put up a big victory and get one step closer to that division title.
*LeRoy Butler played 12 seasons for the Green Bay Packers, helping them to two Super Bowls and earning NFL All-Decade Honors for the 1990s, before retiring in July 2002. This season Butler is again providing exclusive analysis to Packers.com beginning with training camp and later with a breakdown of the upcoming game on Saturdays, followed by a column and Q&A session on Tuesdays during the preseason and regular season.
Butler's autobiography, 'The LeRoy Butler Story ... From Wheelchair to the Lambeau Leap,' is available on his website, leroybutler36.com.*
LeRoy serves as the host on the new DVD, 'Brett Favre - On and Off the Field'. Click here for more information on the DVD.