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Week 3: Detroit at Green Bay Preview

The Detroit Lions (1-1) look to continue their winning streak at Lambeau Field as they visit the Green Bay Packers (1-1) in Week 3. The last time the Packers won at Lambeau…. The game is at 1 PM on FOX with my greatness only in attendance since we have a bunch of meatup welchers. This is Detroit’s first divisional game and the Packers are coming off a divisional loss at the hands of the Vikings and Sam Bradford in Minnesota. Detroit will want to make up for the terrible loss at home to the Titans after a Week 1 thrilling win in Indianapolis.

Protect Stafford

Stafford was protected well in Week 1 (only 19% pressure) and the Lions scored 39 points. Stafford was under more pressure in Week 2 (4 sacks) and the Lions only managed 15 points despite a good run game on the day (despite Abdullah’s second quarter injury). Stafford still played well despite 17 penalties on Detroit (including one bad OPI call costing Detroit 4 crucial points) and 7 drops by Detroit’s weapons.

The late interception by Stafford against the Titans was a terrible read and deflated his QB rating on the day after a strong 128 rating in Week 1. The Lions offensive line must rebound against a tough defense in Green Bay defense that has been generating some good pressure so far this season. Detroit’s weapons must hang onto to the ball when given opportunities because they can make enough plays against the Packers. Sam Shields may be out with a concussion which could further help Detroit have weapon production.

Clay Matthews, Julius Pepper, Mike Daniels and Nick Perry will be a huge challenge to the Lions young offensive line. Those four players have been rushing the passer well through the first two weeks. Rookie Taylor Decker allowed 2 sacks to Brian Orakpo in Week 2 and Matthews has the speed to cause Decker problems. Reiff can handle Peppers and Perry but it will be a challenge for him. Daniels is a beast and Warford and Tomlinson must bring their A games in Week 3.

Lions Run Game

The Lions have run the ball very well in the first two weeks of the season. However, Ameer Abdullah suffered a foot injury early in the Titans game and most likely will miss the game at Green Bay and many others after being place on IR on Wednesday. Theo Riddick had a great Week 1 but only 3.4 YPC in Week 2. Rookie Dwayne Washington showed some strong runs especially with a 28 yarder in Week 2. Detroit has improved on the offensive line and can run the ball but missing Abdullah hurts Detroit.

However, Green Bay has been absolutely stuffing the run in the first two weeks (1.6 YPC allowed). The Packers shut down TJ Yeldon and Adrian Peterson/Jerrick McKinnon. Green Bay could really shut down Detroit, especially with Abdullah out. The Lions’ offensive line must run block well for the third week in a row.

Stop Aaron Rodgers As He Stops Himself

The Lions have been beaten through the air despite some bright spots and good first halves the last two weeks. Andrew Luck and Marcus Mariota were both well protected against Detroit. Luck caught fire in the second half and Mariota caught fire for two late drives in Week 2. Detroit earned some sacks and Kerry Hyder has 3 on the year along with 1.5 from Devin Taylor.

However, Detroit’s pressure has not been consistent and Luck and Mariota both had enough time to throw the ball. The bad news for Detroit is top rusher Ziggy Ansah was hurt 3 snaps into the Titans game. Ansah has a high ankle sprain and should miss at least the game at Lambeau or more. Detroit will have to find a more consistent pass rush without their top defensive player for the second straight week.

Aaron Rodgers struggled in Week 2 after a strong Week 1. If the Lions cover well like they did in the game at Lambeau last season, Detroit will have a great shot to stop Aaron Rodgers. Detroit didn’t bring much pressure in that game but they would need some pressure in this game to avoid Rodgers being able to rebound with a productive outing. Rodgers has been throwing a higher percentage of bad passes since the second half of the 2015 season. If that continues, Detroit could take advantage in coverage.

Lions Run Defense

Detroit’s run defense has been up and down this season. They were shutting down Frank Gore but he had a few nice runs in the second half in Week 1 and earned 4.3 YPC in the end. Detroit shut down DeMarco Murray except for one 66 yard run but Derrick Henry had some nice carries in Week 2. Detroit’s run defense would look much better in Week 2 without that run but it still counts to kill their average.

Eddie Lacy has been solid so far despite his girth but James Starks has struggled. The Lions have had success in stopping Lacy in the last three games (plus a benched game for Lacy with Detroit stopping Starks). Detroit must stop Lacy which puts more pressure on Rodgers to be perfect on the day.

The problem for Detroit is DeAndre Levy (quad), Antwione Williams (thigh), Kyle Van Noy (calf), Jon Bostic (knee on IR)and Josh Bynes (knee and cut with injury settlement) are all injured at linebacker. Detroit is woefully thin and hope Van Noy, Williams and Levy can come back for this divisional game. A linebacker crew of Thurston Armbrister (added from waivers in September), Tahir Whitehead (only starter) and Brandon Copeland (DE now but LB in emergency) would be very bad facing the Packers rushing attack. However, Detroit will probably play nickel defense 70 percent of the time.

Lions Coverage

The Lions have the talent to cover the Packers WRs and tight ends. Slay, Lawson and Diggs had such great games last year at Lambeau. Detroit will need a similar performance in this game. Diggs had a rough Week 1 and Lawson got beat for a TD in Week 2 by Delanie Walker and earned some penalties. These two young players must not let Adams and Cobb finally break out of their slumps. Jordy Nelson is producing but much slower after his ACL injury. Darius Slay should have success in this matchup which will hurt Rodgers.

Detroit’s achilles heel has been allowing big yardage from tight ends. Dwayne Allen, Jack Coyle and Delanie Walker all had success this season. The Packers could have a nice day for Jared Cook or Richard Rodgers. The Lions hope to punish Rodgers for his fluke Hail Mary but missing LBs could hurt for Detroit yet again. Whitehead was good in 2014/2015 in coverage but inconsistent so far in 2016. Whitehead must rebound with a good coverage day on tight ends, especially if Levy doesn’t play.

The Lions have only forced 1 turnover (Glover Quin pick of Mariota) so far this season. Detroit may need to force at least 2 turnovers in this game.

Special Teams

The Lions have the advantage in the kicking game but seem to be playing it safe on returns with Andre Roberts. However, watch out for Dwayne Washington on kick-offs if he gets a return opportunity. The Lions kick and punt coverage has been excellent with Don Carey and Johnson Bademosi as gunners. A big return by Abdullah spurred a Lions win at Lambeau last season; but Abdullah is now hurt. Crosby missed a big field goal last year to win the game and Prater missed an extra point (as he did against the Colts). In a division game, it could come down to clutch field goals.

Prediction

I have never witnessed a Lions loss in person (4-0 including beating Green Bay in 2014). However, the injuries may just be too much for Detroit to overcome with Ansah, Abdullah and Levy/several other LBs. I really don’t know what kind of pass rush and coverage will show up for Detroit in this game. The Lions offense looked great in Week 1 and had too many miscues in Week 2 with drops and penalties. Detroit’s run defense is hurt by extreme linebacker injuries. Detroit has the talent to win again in Lambeau though. Will they execute?  Fuck it. Lions 42 Packers 14. Boombaya!