This Packers team just needs to win. Nothing else matters. Not the playoffs. Not if the 49ers are going to be the second seed. “Just win baby” So what do the Green Bay Packers need to do to win this game? Let’s take a look.
This is probably the first time that a Packers team won’t need Aaron Rodgers to be a hero to make the playoffs. Matter of fact, it would be best if he didn’t. Rodgers just needs to be efficient and lead the offense. If he can make the right reads and put the ball where it needs to be, then the Packers will have a chance. But Rodgers does not need to be the center piece of this offense. The run game does.
Run the Ball
The run game needs to be the main focus for this game against the Lions. First of all, the run game always needs to be the focus with this Packers team. This is especially true against this Detroit defense that ranks 29th in run defense this season. The Lions in the past three games have let up an average of 190 rushing yards per game. This game is just asking for Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon to feast in temperatures around twenty degrees Sunday night.
The Packers red zone offense this season has not been very good. They rank 23rd this season in touchdowns scored while in the red zone. They have scored touchdowns on approximately 52% of all red zone trips. This will need to be better playing against the Lions if they want to make a deep run into the playoffs. Red zone trips as of late have been more frequent due to the great field position the Packers have been receiving thanks to the Packers Special Teams and Keisean Nixon. These trips can’t be wasted.
I never thought I would say this but the Packers Special Teams has been special. I haven’t seen a kick returner like Keisean Nixon in a very long time! The past several weeks, it has almost felt like the Packers have had Desmond Howard back there again. And we all know what happened when the Packers had Desmond Howard returning kicks. If Nixon can set the Packers up with great field position and Green Bay is able to score, then the Packers will have a great chance at winning.
The Green Bay defense has been great on this four game win streak. They made the adjustments necessary after the bye week and are now looking like the defense we expected back in training camp. The one issue has been pass rush. It hasn’t been horrible but it is probably the weakest spot on the defense.
Preston Smith has been quietly having a good season and, after Rashan Gary went down, Kingsley Enagbare has stepped up and has even lead the defense in pressures. The pass rush will need to keep increasing the pressure on the opposing team. This can lead to more sacks and turnovers. This will be great because the opposing wide receivers have been having a hard time getting open lately.
Speaking of opposing wide receivers not getting open, the Green Bay defensive backs and linebackers have been playing outstanding. This has coincided with Jaire Alexander just dominating lately and not being afraid to talk about it. Alexander’s play (and words) has increased the confidence of other players in the secondary which has led to a jump in interceptions during this win streak.
Speaking of other pass defenders, Quay Walker has been the best rookie linebacker as a pass defender this season. When Walker has been targeted, quarterbacks have had an average QB rating of 58.0. He is also just seven tackles away from breaking AJ Hawk’s rookie tackle record of 121 tackles in a season. The Packers pass defense will need to continue this dominance against this high flying Detroit offense.
The Lions have a fantastic duo at running back in D’Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams (miss that man). The Packers run defense will need to keep on the positive trajectory they have been on as of late. The Packers run defense isn’t much better than the Lions with Green Bay’s run defense being ranked 26th out of 32 teams, however, in the past three games they have let up an average of 85.3 rushing yards per game which is sixth best in the NFL during that stretch. If they can keep playing like that, the Packers should win this game.
Some other factors could affect the outcome of this game that don’t really fit into the other categories. Firstly, if the Seahawks win the late afternoon contest against the Rams, then the Lions will have been eliminated before Sunday Night Football kicks off. This could kill the drive to compete for some players for the Lions. This could be advantageous to the Packers.
Secondly, Jared Goff has statistically not played well in games under 35 degrees. Green Bay will be in the 20s Sunday Night. The Packers being home for this game should definitely bring some hope to the fans and because of all of these reasons, the Packers should win.
Go Pack Go!——————
Damon is a diehard, fully-immersed cheesehead who currently lives in southern Missouri. He teaches at a local high school and has a family YouTube channel about all things Packers. You can follow him on twitter at @packersfamily and on YouTube at The Packers Family.