Coming off of a big win in Dallas just over a week ago, the Green Bay Packers are now back home for a divisional matchup with the Detroit Lions. The Packers enter the game at 4-1, while the Lions are coming off of their bye week and sit at 2-1-1 on the season. The winner will be in sole possession of first place within the NFC North.
After tying the Arizona Cardinals in their first game of the season, this looked like the same old Lions team that we have seen throughout the years. However since then, they’ve gotten wins over the L.A. Chargers, Philadelphia Eagles, and nearly upset the Kansas City Chiefs.
Although for the better part of the last 25 years, the Packers have dominated this rivalry, Detroit does have a current four-game winning streak over Green Bay. If the Packers hope to come away with the win and gain full control of the North, these are their three keys to victory in tonight’s game.
Last week in Dallas, the Packers’ offense was able to rely heavily on Aaron Jones as he put together a career game that consisted of 107 rushing yards, four touchdowns, and an additional 75 yards through the air. As a result, we saw how much easier things were overall for the Green Bay offense and once again, the Packers will need another productive game from Jones.
With Adams out again this week, I’m expecting Jones to get plenty of opportunities against Detroit. The Lions run defense is giving up 124.8 rushing yards per game this season and they are also banged up along the defensive front. Former Packer Mike Daniels and Da’Shawn Hand have already been ruled out while A’Shawn Robinson is listed as questionable.
Establishing the running game early will help open things up in the passing game and allow Green Bay to control the clock. If Jones can have another productive outing, it will go a long way towards a Packers’ victory.
Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith
What an upgrade Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith have been at edge rusher this season. Through five games, the duo has combined for 10 sacks and 54 total pressures according to Pro Football Focus. With the Lions stout passing attack, putting pressure on Matthew Stafford will be crucial.
In each of the Packers’ four wins this season, the Smiths have come up with some key sacks, or have been able to put pressure on the quarterback which this opportunistic Green Bay defense has turned into turnovers. In the past, we’ve seen that Stafford is prone to make mistakes, so it will be up to the Smiths as well as the rest of the Green Bay defensive front to get after him which will take away some of their effectiveness in the passing game.
Eliminating the big play
Although the Packers were able to come away with a very nice road victory last week, the Cowboys were able to get back into the game during the second half because of some big plays. In total, Dallas would pass for 441 yards including four separate plays of 25 yards or more.
Well coming to Lambeau Field this week is a Detroit Lions team that has a very successful passing attack. Their 267 yards per game through the air is good for eighth-best in the NFL and the Packers’ secondary is going to have their hands full with Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones.
In order for this game to not turn into a shootout, the Green Bay secondary – particularly Jaire Alexander and Kevin King – will need to eliminate any big plays in the passing game and take advantage of any errant throws from Stafford.