GREEN BAY—The Packers allowed 575 yards of offense to the Lions in the 2011 regular-season finale. They've only allowed 362 yards in the two most recent games.
Much has changed about the Packers defense in three years. It's been a slow process that, at times, has been one step forward, one step back, but the hope is the Packers have turned the corner on defense recently, and they'll carry it through the remainder of this season.
"We've got more options," Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers said when asked to describe the progress the Packers have made on defense since 2011. "It starts up front. We're playing more combinations of guys. We're more athletic there. Our secondary has been with us for a while. We have better depth and we've been able to stay healthier."
After a slow start to the season that made climbing the rankings a season-long endeavor, the defense is up to No. 12 overall, No. 22 against the run and No. 10 against the pass. Capers' unit is playing its best football heading into the biggest game of the season.
"I like the way we've played since the bye week, except for the second half of the Atlanta game, and I certainly like the way we've played the last two weeks," Capers said.
In Week 3, the Packers held the Lions to 19 points and intercepted Matt Stafford twice. It was an effort wasted, however, since the Lions defense held the Packers to what would be a season-low seven points.
Offensive Coordinator Tom Clements says the Packers are a "different team now. We're better.
"They played well; we didn't play as well as we can," he added.
Linebacker Deandre Levy and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh were the stars of that game for the Lions. Levy led all defenders with 10 tackles, and he added a tackle for a loss for a safety, and two passes defensed. Suh sacked Aaron Rodgers once and added a tackle for a loss and a quarterback hurry.
"You always have to account for him," Clements said of Suh. "Levy is the linebacker. You have to account for him. They're both outstanding players.
"They don't play a whole lot of defenses. They just play them very well."
Special Teams Coordinator Shawn Slocum is looking for a big play from his kickoff return team, against a Lions kickoff coverage team that's No. 30 in the league.
"We need some production out of our kickoff return game," Slocum said.
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