As the rest of the offense struggles during their 1-4 skid and loss of the NFC North lead, the Green Bay Packers (7-4) may lean heavily on third-year running back Eddie Lacy even more, starting with Thursday night’s division matchup with the Detroit Lions (4-7) at Ford Field.
Lacy, who has rushed for more than 100 yards in the last two games after a slow start, appears to have fought off groin and ankle injuries to act as perhaps the only fully functioning cog in Green Bay’s previously impervious offense. Beginning with the rival Lions, the 25-year-old may be the key to Green Bay’s success down the final five-game stretch of the regular season as it jostles for NFC playoff position. Detroit ranks No. 22 in the league against the run, while three of the Packers’ final four opponents are presently ranked no higher than No. 15 in the league.
Lacy has had difficulty against Detroit. He’s gained 251 total yards with no touchdowns off 70 attempts in four career games versus the Lions, but with the rest of the offense including quarterback Aaron Rodgers, unable to find any sort of rhythm Lacy could see a major uptick in carries.
Rodgers still ranks as one of the NFL’s most efficient passers, sitting at No. 8 in the league with a 97.4 passer rating, but his offensive line and receiving corps has either been banged up or failed to perform.
According to Green Bay’s official injury report, Rodgers could miss several starters along his line against Detroit’s No. 5 pass rush. Tackle Bryan Bulaga (ankle), guard T.J. Lang (shoulder), center Corey Linsley (ankle), and center/guard J.C. Tretter (ankle) are all listed as questionable, while guard Josh Sitton (back) is probable despite being limited in practice all week.
The Lions are also dealing with several injuries, but the improved play of quarterback Matthew Stafford has led their current three-game winning streak. The 27-year-old has thrown seven touchdowns to just one interception during the streak, and overall his 64.9 completion percentage is on pace for his most accurate season.
However, Stafford may lack some depth at receiver against Green Bay’s No. 5 pass rush and No. 18 overall pass defense. Receiver Lance Moore (ankle) has been ruled out, while top receiver Calvin Johnson (ankle) is questionable after missing one of three practices this week. Golden Tate (calf) was limited in Monday’s practice but fully participated in the final two sessions.
Stafford could also miss starting center Travis Swanson (ankle) and guard Larry Warford (concussion) as both are listed as questionable.
Start Time: 8:25 p.m. ET
TV Channels: CBS and NFL Network
Live Stream: NFL Online
Betting Line: Green Bay -3
Over/Under: 46.5 points
Prediction: Green Bay over Detroit, 30-20