Early Bird Breakdown Week 9 – Lions @ Packers
Hello and welcome back to Early Bird Breakdown. It’s week nine of the regular season. Last week was the Packers bye, but before diving into the breakdown let’s recap the last game played:
Two weeks ago Green Bay hosted the New Orleans Saints and struggled more than the score indicated. The offense struggled to gain traction with Brett Hundley at the helm throwing for under 100 yards. For the Saints they were able to really get the ball moving in the second half, being both effective running and throwing. The Saints left Lambeau the winners 27-16.
Packers’ Offense vs Lions’ Defense:
It will be interesting to see what adjustments coach Mike McCarthy will make after the bye week. The Packers likely need to scale back and simplify the offense because it is too much to ask to have Brett Hundley try and run the full playbook right now as he cannot replicate what Rodgers can do. While Hundley still needs reps to show what he can do, this is his third year in the system. The Packers receivers are not the kind of weapons that rely on athleticism to generate space and be hit in stride after breaking loose, they just are not that fast. Instead, they have always relied on running a crisp route then having Rodgers make an other-worldly throw into an impossible space for the completion. In short, while the Packers receivers have good hands and are skilled route runners they are not the physical talents that elevate the quarterback play like the dynamic receivers in the league (Julio Jones, AJ Green, etc.). This has compounded on Hundley and made the backup’s job harder.
Fortunately for Hundley, the Lions defense has been a mess this season. They are the seventh-worst pass defense in the league which should create enough openings to generate key first downs. But the offense will and should be run through breakout rookie Aaron Jones. Jones has been a diamond in the rough in his three games so far, averaging 5.6 yards per carry. If the Packers can run the ball early and often, it will setup some easy play action pass schemes. If the Packers want to play turnover free ball and give themselves the best chance to win, they will need to play this pretty conservatively and hope Hundley can be more accurate than he was last game.
Packers’ Defense vs Lions’ Offense:
Fortunately for Green Bay, they are going up against a one dimensional offense. Detroit is fifth worst in rushing in the NFL, only averaging 82.1 yards-per-game. With the Packers front seven, even without injured starting linebacker Joe Thomas, they should be able to focus fully on pass defense while still stopping the run. However, with the injuries to corners Damarious Randall and Kevin King, both listed as questionable, the secondary likely will have their hands full. Good news for the Packers is that safety Morgan Burnett is likely to make his return from injury this week.
Wide receivers Golden Tate and Marvin Jones Jr. both have been productive this season for Detroit. If Randall and/or King are out, the Packers will need to likely slide safety help over both receivers if they want to keep the Lions’ scoring down.
Green Bay will be near freezing temperatures with an expected 34 degree kickoff but there is no expected precipitation.
The Packers are in a tough spot once again. The offense will continue to experience issues consistently getting first downs as long as Rodgers is out. To make matters worse, it is unlikely that tight end Martellus Bennett will be playing and was a big target for Hundley to find. While the Lions have not been particularly impressive, Stafford has won in Lambeau before (only once, but no other Lions’ QB can say that since Mike Tomczak in 1991). I think Stafford finds enough opportunities to score to win, but the Packers offense has a few flashes after being refocused in the bye week. Lions win 24-20.As always, go Pack go! Stu Weis -Journalism graduate 2012, Carroll University