There is only one game for the NFC North this week and it will be showcased on Monday Night Football at 8:30 PM ET on ESPN. The Detroit Lions (3-4) need a crucial win at Lambeau Field as they face the hated Green Bay Packers (4-3). Let’s take a look at the matchups.
Lions Passing Attack
Matt Stafford healed up after the bye and looked good with 432 yards against the top rated pass defense in the Steelers last week. Stafford has an 89.6 rating due to intense pressure allowed by a banged up offense line and three fluke tipped picks against the Saints. However, Stafford is still a very good QB and with the proper amount of time can pick apart the Packers coverage.
Green Bay allows a 90.2 passer rating, 7.3 YPA and 66.5 completion percentage. Kevin King, Davon House and Damarius Randall have all struggled this year at corner and should have trouble with Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and TJ Jones. King is battling a back injury as well. Dix has had a down year but Morgan Burnett should be back to help with safety coverage. If Detroit revs up the passing game like the Steelers game and early in the year, they should score at least 28 points against Green Bay’s suspect coverage.
The Packers best shot at limiting Stafford is through pressure. The Lions offensive line looked much better against the Steelers; but Detroit has given up 25 sacks and high pressure this season. Nick Perry, Clay Matthews, Mike Daniels, Kenny Clark and company must get consistent pressure on Stafford for Green Bay to have a shot in this game.
TJ Lang and Wagner should lock down the right side for Detroit; but the left tackle is still suspect if Taylor Decker remains out. Graham Glasgow has been solid but inconsistent and center Travis Swanson has struggled in 2017. If the Lions protect Stafford, they will have a massive day on offense. The Lions interior must limit Daniels and Clark enough as interior pressure can ruin games.
Lions Rushing Attack
The Lions really struggle running the ball with five bad games out of seven. Abdullah makes defenders miss well but the run blocking has been poor in the Cooter zone scheme. Green Bay allows 4.2 YPC which gives the Lions a chance for a rare good day running the football.
If the Lions get the run game going, they will have a monster day on offense. Riddick showed signs of life against the Steelers and Dwayne Washington returned from injury but struggled in short yardage situation. The Lions must figure out how to score in short yardage situations.
Packers Passing Attack
The Packers expectations took a huge nose dive due to the injury of Aaron Rodgers (103.6 QB rating/collarbone). Brett Hundley has struggled in two games against the Vikings and Saints. Hundley has earned a terrible 40.5 QB rating with 1 TD and 4 interceptions. If Green Bay can’t pass the ball despite good weapons and good protection, Detroit should feast in this game. Detroit is third in the league in forcing turnovers and must get two turnovers or more on the Packers offense.
Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and Martellus Bennett should not be taken lightly without Rodgers. Slay can shut down Nelson or Adams and Quin is great on the back end. Diggs is having a good year but got beat badly by Smith Schuster last week. The Lions strong safety, CB 2 and LB coverage must improve and Detroit still needs to bring a consistent pass rush.
The Lions pass rush has really struggled the last 3 games and will need to make Hundley uncomfortable in the pocket to force mistakes. Ansah needs to finally beat Bakhtiari and Zettel and Washington will have a tough task against Bulaga. A’Shawn Robinson, Akeem Spence and Jeremiah Ledbetter must provide some interior pressure to ease the job of the ends. Watch for Detroit to blitz the young QB often as well. Detroit has the talent but must execute and make life hell for Hundley.
Detroit is 11th in passer rating allowed in the league which gives them the advantage in this matchup against Hundley. The nightmares of Matt Flynn will be erased.
Packers Rushing Attack
Green Bay found a rushing attack with their third option. Rookie Aaron Jones has been strong with 5.6 YPC on 62 carries with 3 TDs but Ty Montgomery only mustered 3.3 YPC this season. The Lions are 5th best in the league in run defense allowing only 3.6 YPC. If the Lions stop the Packers run defense, the Packers offense will have a really tough night and Hundley will have to win the game on his own.
The Packers have forced 13 turnovers and Detroit forced 16 this season. Both teams have turned the ball over 9 times but Green Bay is more susceptible with Hundley in the game. If Detroit wins the turnover battle, they should win by double digits.
Prater is a monster but Crosby is a good kicker in his own right. Sam Martin is back for the Lions for field positions but shanked a punt last Sunday. Jamaal Agnew is a dangerous return man with 2 punt return TDs already this season. If Agnew breaks a big one, it will make life easy for Detroit.
The Lions have lost three in a row and Green Bay lost two in a row without Rodgers. The Lions need this road win to get back to .500 and stay in the NFC North race with Minnesota. A loss wouldn’t kill them but would really hurt and not allow many mistakes in the second half of the season. Detroit wins in Lambeau for the second time in three years with a big day from Stafford. Lions 31 Packers 17