What matters: A win is the only acceptable result for the Lions. Detroit's margin for error to make the playoffs virtually zero, and there's still a trip to Green Bay -- where the Lions haven't won in more than 20 years -- on the schedule. Sunday is the first of four straight games in which Detroit plays a playoff-caliber team and it must go at least 3-1 for a shot at the postseason.
What Detroit must do to beat the Packers • Find a “Robin” for Calvin Johnson's “Batman”: WR Nate Burleson, who is out for the season with a broken leg, was fond of describing Johnson as the Lions' Caped Crusader, and himself as the Boy Wonder. Since Burleson's injury, Johnson hasn't had enough help from the other receivers to draw coverage away from him in key situations. Johnson had 207 receiving yards against the Vikings in Week 10. The other receivers combined for 101 yards. The passing game must be more balanced Sunday.
• “Turnover” a new leaf on defense: The Lions have a top-10 defense despite a losing record. Unfortunately, they are among the NFL's worst in turnover margin at minus-4, helping lead to a No. 24 ranking for points allowed. Some on the defense say they think Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is vulnerable to turnovers because he's holding the ball longer in the pocket this season. An early turnover could go a long way to a Detroit win.
• Get a fast start: The Lions average just 8.3 first-half points, and the Packers score 14.2. Rodgers is at his best when he's playing with a lead, so the Lions' offense must keep pace with the Packers to give Matthew Stafforda chance to control the game in the fourth quarter.
Who matters: After an uninspired performance against the Vikings (47 rushing yards combined), RBs Joique Belland Mikel Leshoure must be a bigger factor. Offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said establishing the run and short passes are keys to a win. … The Lions get a break with Packers' LB Clay Matthews out with a hamstring injury. That means the defense should look to exploit his absence by using TEs Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler to open the middle of the field in the passing game.
Key matchups: Packers WRs Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and James Jones vs. Lions secondary: Cobb has been a revelation for Green Bay, adding 45 receptions to his duties as a return man. His speed could prove problematic as Detroit copes with DB injuries. Nelson, who is returning from injury, is expected to play, meaning Cobb will likely match up against a corner other than Chris Houston. Nelson and Jones are models of consistency and Rodgers' relationship with his receivers gives Green Bay a decided advantage against a patchwork Detroit secondary. ... Lions WR Johnson vs. Packers CB Tramon Williams: Williams is the latest cornerback to adopt the nickname “Optimus Prime” before a matchup against “Megatron.” The last corner to use it, Seattle's Richard Sherman, held Johnson to three catches for 46 yards -- but the Lions won. Johnson was hobbled against the Seahawks, though, and he'll be healthier Sunday. Williams prefers to handle receivers one-on-one, but Johnson should have an advantage unless Green Bay adds safety help. ... Cobb vs. Lions' special teams: Cobb's elusiveness has been a problem for coverage units that are better than Detroit's. Coordinator Danny Crossman's coverage teams have done well to limit opposing return men the past four games, and that trend needs to continue.
Injuries of note: The Lions released the following status report for Sunday: Out: S Amari Spievey and DT Corey Williams (knee). Doubtful: S Louis Delmas (knee). Questionable: CB Chris and WR Johnson (knee). Probable: DECliff Avril (back), S Erik Coleman (eye), K Jason Hanson (left foot), LB Ashlee Palmer (chest) and WR Titus Young(knee).
Inside stuff: K Hanson has been listed on the injury report all week with a foot problem. If something happens to Hanson during the game, P Nick Harris would most likely handle placekicking duties, with backup QB Shaun Hill as his holder. … Defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham and coach Jim Schwartz said Friday that CB Drayton Florence may be active for Sunday's game. If Florence is moved to the active roster before the Saturday deadline, the team will need to release a player.
Connections: Lions CB Jacob Lacey (2009-11), G Dylan Gandy (2005-07), and T Corey Hilliard (2007-08) played in Indianapolis with Packer C Jeff Saturday (1999-11). Gandy, Hilliard and Saturday played for the Colts' 2007 Super Bowl winner. Lions DT Williams (2004-07) was originally drafted by the Packers in the sixth round of the 2004 NFL Draft.
Stat you should know: Despite the number of points Detroit has allowed, the front seven ranks among the league's best in tackles for loss. Detroit has 72 TFLs for 274 yards. That ranks second in the NFL and shows how much the secondary has hurt the defense.
Looking ahead: Win or lose, the Lions face a short turnaround as they prepare to face the Texans on Thursday in the annual Thanksgiving Day Classic. Detroit hasn't fared well in those games and is on an eight-game turkey-day skid.
Follow Lions reporter John Kreger on Twitter at @CBSLions and @JohnKreger.
Though their bye week seemed to come at a good time, the Green Bay Packers are still plenty banged up.
Far from full strength despite a week off, the Packers can win a fifth straight game Sunday as it visits the Detroit Lions, who can't afford many more disappointments if they plan on returning to the playoffs.
Recent history favors Green Bay, which is 11-1 against the Lions under coach Mike McCarthy.
A string of four consecutive wins has the Packers (6-3) within one game of Chicago for first place in the NFC North. They went into the bye after a 31-17 victory over Arizona on Nov. 4, then McCarthy gave the team the entire week off.
It was sorely needed, with the likes of Greg Jennings and Charles Woodson already injured, not to mention Clay Matthews, Jordy Nelson and Bryan Bulaga all getting hurt against the Cardinals. While Woodson (collarbone) remains sidelined, Bulaga (hip) became the 11th Packer to be placed on injured reserve Monday. Matthews (hamstring) was ruled out for this game and it does not appear Jennings (groin) will return, though Nelson (ankle) practiced Wednesday and could play.
Considering the Packers have already overcome many injuries to bounce back from a 2/3 start, they seem to be in good position to begin the stretch run. Five of their final seven games are against NFC North opponents, with Sunday's game giving them an opportunity for a franchise record ninth straight divisional win.
"I like where we're at," said Aaron Rodgers, whose 107.4 passer rating ranks second in the NFL behind Peyton Manning. His 25 touchdown passes are tied with Drew Brees for the league lead.
Rodgers is 6-1 against the Lions with 16 passing TDs compared to four interceptions.
"We've had some adversity early in the season. We've come together, we've taken some heat and it's brought us closer together," Rodgers said.
"We've got a lot of guys who, if we can have back in the mix, we can really take off."
A two-game win streak for the Lions (4-5) came to an end Sunday with a 34-24 loss at Minnesota.
Detroit can take some comfort in five of its final seven games coming at home, but the list of opponents is less than comfortable: Green Bay twice along with Houston, Indianapolis, Arizona, Atlanta, and Chicago. The only team among that group which doesn't have a winning record is the Cardinals.
"We don't have a whole lot of wiggle room for mistakes down the stretch. We have to play our best," coach Jim Schwartz said. "It's life in the NFL. You have to do that all the time."
The Lions' defense is ranked 10th in the league at 329.7 yards per game but was awful when it last faced the Packers. Detroit allowed 550 yards in a 45-41 loss to close the 2011 regular season even though Rodgers didn't play.
Last Sunday's performance might not give the Lions much confidence. They allowed 171 rushing yards to Adrian Peterson, let Christian Ponder complete 24 of 32 passes and watched Minnesota post its highest point total of the season.
Schwartz defended the unit, highlighting the play of tackles Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh.
"Nick had one of the best games he's played since he's been here, but a lot like the rest of our team, a couple mistakes overshadowed the good things that he did," Schwartz said. "I thought Ndamukong Suh might have played the best game he's played since he's been here."
Green Bay could take advantage of a vulnerable run defense after a surprisingly strong showing against Arizona. The Packers ran for 176 yards, their most since netting 202 against Cleveland on Oct. 25, 2009. They had four players -- Rodgers, Randall Cobb, James Starks and Alex Green -- record at least 25 rushing yards for the first time since 2003.
The Lions lead the league with 307.3 passing yards per game, and Calvin Johnson is coming off his finest performance of the season with 12 catches for 207 yards and a touchdown. But they want to buck a trend of slow starts that has forced them to play from behind and rely so much on that passing attack.
Detroit's first-half scoring differential is minus-23, tied for 27th. They've tied or trailed entering the final period in all but one game this season, but own a plus-28 advantage in the fourth quarter.
Green Bay, which has won 20 of the last 23 meetings with Detroit, is 5-1 after the bye week under McCarthy.