An In-Depth Preview Of The Detroit Lions’ Week Nine Matchup Against The Green Bay Packers.
Green Bay’s Season So Far
The Packers season looked like another promising one until quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone against the NFC North-leading Vikings two weeks ago. They were 4-1 and were rolling against opposing defenses over this period. They were average 27.4 points per game when Rodgers was at the helm. The defense played boom or bust over this time, so the offense being able to consistently score was essential for their victories through the first five weeks.
Backup quarterback Brett Hundley entered the game in Rodgers absence and the offense has looked very sloppy and inept with him at the helm the past two weeks. His completion percentage has been low both games, completing 48% and 54.5% of his passes against the Vikings and Saints, respectively. He also has thrown for merely 244 yards, one passing touchdown, and four interceptions through these two games as well.
These passing struggles, combined with the 19th ranked rushing attack, has spelled trouble for the Packers offense without Rodgers. The unit has averaged just 13.5 points per game without him, a big drop-off from their totals earlier this season and has been the biggest factor in their most recent two losses. While the Lions defensive unit is not nearly what the Vikings and Saints defense are, they have their most favorable matchup of the season this week against this Packers offense.
Matchups To Watch For This Week
Lions Secondary vs Quarterback Brett Hundley
This matchup should much easier for the Lions secondary after facing the likes of Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger the past two weeks. With Hundley struggling, this could be a great opportunity for the Lions defensive backfield to have a big game. His ball placement and decision making has been a bit erratic at times. When he does this, it is up to the Lions secondary to take advantage of the opportunity and generate some turnovers.
Early in the season, the Lions caught some breaks on tipped balls turning into interceptions. But those breaks were part of the reason the Lions were 3-1 to start the season. Winning the turnover battle is one of the best ways of achieving consistent victory in the NFL. The Lions did that early and it paid off for them. The Lions secondary has another great opportunity to do this against this Hundley-led offense in Green Bay.
Lions’ Front Seven vs Packers’ Running Game
While the Lions secondary has been up and down throughout this year, the run defense has been pretty consistent. Defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson and rookie linebacker Jarrad Davis have been a force against the ground game and have another opportunity to succeed against the Packers on Monday Night Football.
Currently, Detroit is ranked 6th against ground game this year. Facing a below-average rushing attack, that just lost their starting quarterback, could lead to many stuffed boxes for the Packers running game to face. Robinson and Davis have received help in recent weeks by defensive end Anthony Zettel and rookie linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin, against the run. With Detroit’s young nucleus of defenders flying to ball-carriers on defense, this is not the matchup the Packers’ stagnant running game will likely win.
Lions’ Run Game vs Packers’ Front Seven
This is the lowest-profile matchup of the game, but could prove to be an important one. The Lions offense showed some life last week in the passing game, but yet again the rushing attack struggled. Most of this is due to the Lions offensive line failing to create enough space for their backs to work with. Whether it is a scheme issue or chemistry issue, the offensive line not being able to make holes for their backs to run through has been a the biggest problem facing this rushing attack.
— Logan Lamorandier (@LLamorandier) October 20, 2017
However, this matchup is the the best one the offensive line has had this season. The Packers are the 6th worst run defense in the NFL, so far this season. With how well running back Ameer Abdullah has played against great run defenses with a struggling offensive line, this game could be his biggest one of the season. If the offensive line can give Abdullah space to work in and get a solid running game going, the Lions offense will be in a great position to beat the Packers in Lambeau Field, on Monday Night Football.
Prediction: Lions Win 21-14
I think the Lions defense is going to show up big on Monday night. The bright lights may be too much for a quarterback struggling like Hundley has. And if this is the best matchup the Lions running game has had this season. If Abdullah can get going, and I think he does, I do not see the Packers offense being able to keep up with a Stafford-led Lions offense.