Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was 36-for-59 for 502 yards with five touchdowns in the 2011 regular-season finale at Lambeau Field. (Daniel Mears / Detroit News)
Allen Park — The early forecast for Green Bay on Sunday is for cloudy skies, temperatures in the mid- to low-50s with 14 mph winds.
Don’t expect that to bother quarterback Matthew Stafford.
“I think we set a franchise record for offense when it was snowing there two years ago,” he said, recalling his 36-completion, 520-yard, five-touchdown performance on the final day of the 2011 season. “The weather is not a big deal. Obviously anytime you can stay warm as long as you can, everyone likes playing in good weather.”
What does matter, though, are the players the Packers put on the field.
“They’re traditionally a good football team,” Stafford said. “They have a lot of talent. They have a quarterback that is playing on a really high level. They have a defense that turns the ball over. That’s what makes it tough to play there is the team that you’re playing.”
Truth be told, Lambeau Field is one of Stafford’s favorite stadiums.
“You walk in there and you feel all the history behind that place, including all the great games and players that have played there,” he said. “Their fans are great. They’re some of the rowdiest fans, but some of the nicest fans. They’re people that generally want to watch good football and want their team to win.
“It’s hard to come by sometimes in the NFL these days. It’s definitely a place I enjoy going to play.”
The Packers defense may look a little different to Stafford this time.
Linebacker Clay Matthews is struggling with a hamstring injury and is questionable. The dynamic cornerback duo of Sam Shields and Tramon Williams are back, but the back end of the secondary has been spotty.
“Their personnel is a little bit different,” Stafford said. “Obviously they lost a few guys and those guys were turnover machines for them.”
One of those turnover machines is playing in Oakland, long-time Detroit killer Charles Woodson.
“He’s a Hall of Famer,” Stafford said. “A guy that is great when the ball is in the area, he can make plays on it. He’s smart. He understands what offenses are trying to do to their defense and he plays within the scheme really well.
“He has a couple of those plays each game where he’s a little bit outside the scheme and makes a play anyway. He’s definitely a guy that I won’t miss playing against.”
Stafford doesn’t see what all the fuss is about how quickly he is releasing the football these days. According to several web sites who chart these things, Stafford is getting his passes off quicker than any quarterback in the league.
“I’m not a guy that wants to sit around and hold the ball and take a bunch of sacks,” he said. “I’ll throw an incompletion before I take a sack. I don’t like lost yardage plays, just like everybody else. That’s just kind of in my makeup to get rid of the ball rather than sit there and put my offensive line in a bad spot.
“They’re doing a great job of protecting me at the same time and keeping me upright. We’re just trying to give defenses a lot of different looks. It’s not perfect, but we’re getting there.”
Stafford has been sacked a league-low three times this season.
Point of contention
Receiver Kris Durham is still sore from taking a spearing helmet to the small of the back from Bears linebacker Jonathan Bostic after he recovered the final onside kick.
“All I saw was the ball,” Durham said. “That’s all I was really focused on. I wasn’t focused on the hits that were coming. I just caught the ball and tired to put my back to them to protect myself and the ball and took a helmet right in the back.”
Coach Jim Schwartz was livid no flag was thrown, arguing Durham was a defenseless player.
“I don’t really care,” Durham said. “We got the win. That’s all that matters to me.”
Safety Louis Delmas was asked where he rated Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers among those he respects.
“He’s top three, definitely top three,” Delmas said.
Then he thought about it some more.
“He might be No. 1 in arm strength,” he said. “He’s very smart and he can run. I don’t know, he may have to jump him up to No. 1. He’s an athlete. He’s not only a quarterback. He likes to go out there and have fun and be competitive. A leader is exactly what he is.”
... Stafford was asked if he got any sense his team felt satisfied or content with the 3-1 start.
“Not at all,” he said. “Honestly, we have made mistakes in games. We haven’t played our best football at all yet. We’re finding ways to win games and playing good enough in spots to get wins. We have to continue to work and get better.”