Although they are coming off a come-from-behind win over the Chicago Bears last Sunday, it’s hard to imagine the Detroit Lions are in great spirits heading into this week’s matchup against the Green Bay Packers. Year 3 of the Matt Patricia era ended before its full conclusion, as he was let go after a blowout loss on Thanksgiving to the Houston Texans. Sure, they had the common courtesy to wait two days until after Thanksgiving and let the guy drown the loss in leftover gravy and turkey, but still.
Now they get the Packers and for once the hope is Green Bay can get off to a quick start.
There’s no need to divert from the overall results, the Packers have beaten Detroit three straight times, including a 42-21 win back in week two of this year. But one growing trend, for whatever reason, is the Lions getting off to really hot starts against Green Bay.
Take this year for example. The final score would indicate a Packers blowout, but the Lions led that game 14-3 at the end of the first quarter. In one of the two 2019 matchups (both Packers wins), the Lions led 13-0 in the second quarter, and it took a Mason Crosby field goal as time expired for the Packers to win it and move to 5-1. In the other matchup, the Lions led 17-3 at the half before the Packers scored 13 in the 4th quarter to squeak out a 23-20 win.
This isn’t a small sample size, either. You can keep going back.
In 2018 the Lions won both matchups. They led 24-0 at half in the first game, and then led 21-0 at half of the second one (Rodgers only played one series but still).
Detroit had been that team for years now that Packers fans would look at and say, “Thank goodness we get the Lions this week.” That notion has slowly turned into, “What Packers team is going to show up against Detroit?”
They have been that annoyance that always shows up against Green Bay but then will lose 20-0 to the Carolina Panthers or 41-25 on Thanksgiving to the underwhelming Texans like they have this season. The lack of quick starts for the Packers is part of the narrative and it needs to change this weekend.
This Lions defense has been otherworldly awful this season. According to lineups.com, here are some of their defensive rankings this season:
- 29.8 points per game given up (31st of 32)
- 4,747 total yards given up (28th of 32)
- 20 rushing touchdowns allowed (32nd of 32)
- 33 red zone touchdowns allowed (30th of 32)
- 26th in pass yards yielded
- 27th in sacks
- 29th in turnovers forced
To summarize: The Lions give up a ton of points, a ton of yards, don’t get pressure on the quarterback, and don’t force many turnovers. And they are going up against an offense that has scored the most points and the most touchdowns this season. Yikes.
There’s no reason the Packers shouldn’t be able to do whatever they want on offense on Sunday. They’ve dominated three solid defenses in consecutive weeks (the Indianapolis Colts, Bears and Philadelphia Eagles) and seemingly have everyone on offense that they had a week ago against Philly. With Rodgers trying to chase down an MVP and a potential No. 1 seed, Davante Adams scoring a touchdown in seven straight and Aaron Jones coming off a great day, why wouldn’t we expect the Packers to do as they please against Detroit?
Add in that the first round cornerback Jeff Okudah is likely out, and it’s just piling on for Detroit. I understand the firing of Patricia might’ve provided a quick injection of life into the veins for the Lions players, and the win against Chicago that quickly followed might’ve fired them up a tad more. But let’s call a spade a spade, this is still a very poor team with a lot of holes.
Don’t expect Green Bay to overlook the Lions. Despite the record, the Packers are well aware of how Detroit has played them in recent seasons and it’s still an NFC North divisional game. So throw out the idea of this being a game Green Bay sleepwalks through. What the game looks like on paper, statistically, what the Lions are going through with an interim coach now, the eye test, any and all of it — throw it out.
Hell, logic tells us Green Bay should roll this weekend. Weather won’t be a factor as it’s indoors in Detroit, where Rodgers has often lit up the box score. If the Packers come out with urgency and can take the pulse out of the Lions early, it could and probably should get ugly. This is the time where the Packers need to get a quick start and keep the pressure on the New Orleans Saints for the No. 1 seed in the NFC.