An In-Depth Preview Of The Detroit Lions Week Seventeen Matchup Against The Green Bay Packers.
Packers Recap Since Last Matchup
The last time the Lions played the Packers, it was in week nine at Lambeau Field. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford went off while Brett Hundley struggled for the Packers on the other side of the field. The Packers have had an up and down season since then, going 3-4 over the following seven games.
The offense has been really streaky, which has been a big factor into their games this season. When they get rolling, they become really hard to stop, but when you force their quarterback Hundley to win the game with his arm and not his legs, they become one dimensional and struggle to get anything going. They have been shut out twice overt his period, but also managed to score 23 points or more in the remaining five games, in which all three of their wins came from.
Matchups To Watch For
Matthew Stafford vs Packers Secondary
The last time the Lions faced the Packers, Stafford defeated them at home with his precise passing and great decision making. He was consistently able to find the holes and exploit the heavy zone defense the Packers run. This helped him go 26-33, for 361 passing yards, and two passing touchdowns on the day.
With the Packers defense looking worse for ware as the season has quickly come to a close, Matthew Stafford has one of his more favorable matchups in the latter half of this season. Provided the offensive line can provide him with a even a little time to survey the field, expect that he will pick apart those zones again.
Eric Ebron vs Blake Martinez and Jake Ryan
Lions tight end Eric Ebron has been having a quietly good second half to the 2017 season. One area that has really hurt the Packers passing defense has been targeting the intermediate to short passing game in the middle of the field. While he had a bit of a rocky start, Ebron is set up for a potentially great matchup as neither linebacker is in the same group of athleticism that Detroits tight end is.
Stafford has never shied away from giving his most trusted targets the ball in key situations. Outside of Marvin Jones, his favorite target lately has been Ebron. Not only should he be set up well in the passing game, but he has also looked much better run blocking as well. He has been much more physical and fundamentally sound which has really helped him improve that area, becoming a more well-rounded player.
Brett Hundley vs Darius Slay
Hundley has been the focal point of the Packers offense ever since Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers went down with a broken collerbone. The offense goes as he does. This game could poss a particular challenge as his favorite target will likely see a heavy dose of Slay’s tight coverage and finger wagging. Slay has only gotten better as the season has gone on as Hundley has made worse and worse decisions with the ball.
This could be the biggest deciding factor in the game, as the Packers offense has really controlled the destiny of their games. If Slay can maintain his performance through the end of the season, the Lions will likely be in a good position to win this game.
Prediction: Lions Win 17-14
While the Playoffs are out of reach for 2017, this could be a good statement game by the Lions. The Lions would have swept the Packers, going 5-1 in the division, showing the rest of the NFC North that Detroit plans to compete in 2018. Lions will win a close one with a clutch defensive turnover late in the 4th quarter.