This is where we are: The Green Packers’ season is on the line on Sunday. On the first weekend in November. In Detroit.
This is where we are.
How did we get here? We all know; we’ve watched this team play the last four weeks. The reality is this: If the Packers are to entertain any notion of making a run toward a playoff spot, they must win their next three games — at Detroit, home against the Dallas Cowboys, and home four days later against the Tennessee Titans.
Under Matt LaFleur, the Packers have righted the ship against the Lions. Remember, the Kitties swept the Pack in ’17 and ’18. The only win for Detroit under MLF came in the season finale last year. But the Pack were resting their players, having locked up the top seed.
And it’s hard to know what Detroit’s motivations are at this point. They traded T.J. Hockenson within the division this week. If the season ended today, they’d have the No. 1 pick, giving them months to decide whether Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud would become the new face of the franchise.
You have to believe beating the Packers will always mean a lot to the Lions, but are the players and coaches bitter about the Hockenson trade? They also fired their defensive backs coach this week, and you have no idea how that affects the other coaches on that side of the ball.
What we do know is that if the Packers can’t score 30 points on that defense, we’re kidding ourselves if we think they can compete for a title. Detroit’s D is bad. Like historically bad. Yes, Aidan Hutchinson is the real deal, but there’s not much beyond him. They are giving up 32 points per game, dead last, and 421 yards per game, also 32nd in the league. I’m not sure Tua Tagovailoa threw an incompletion last week, on his way to a 382-yard day.
The Pack’s offense showed signs of life against a strong Buffalo Bills defense, especially the run game. However, some of that might have been due to Buffalo’s indifference. Now Allen Lazard appears set to return, and the youngsters look like they’re starting to figure things out. If Christian Watson can shake the injury bug, the offense should rack up yards and points — not to mention some much-needed confidence — against the porous Lions secondary. Rodgers’ streak of 12 straight games without 300 yards passing ends on Sunday.
So it’s up to the defense to make sure the Lions can’t keep up. Not having to deal with Hockenson is a major win, and it looks like D’Andre Swift is back on the sideline after getting reinjured last week. That opens the door for a Jamaal Williams revenge game. Detroit’s offensive is great at run blocking, and Williams has been his usual solid self, with eight touchdowns and nearly 500 yards, at 4.5 yards per clip.
Will Jaire Alexander shadow Amon-Ra St. Brown? Let’s hope so. If not, the young star-in-the-making will probably see 15 targets from Jared Goff. There’s not much else in the Lions passing game that should strike fear in the heart of a defense.
After losing five straight and being competitive in every game — they had the Cowboys on the ropes in Dallas in the fourth quarter a couple weeks ago — you figure the Lions will hang around for 60 minutes somehow. Under LaFleur, the Pack won both games they tried to win in Detroit, but neither one was easy. And those teams were much better than the 2022 version appears to be.
The Pack will take care of business in Motown. There will be no “Dancing in the Streets.” But at least for one week, we won’t be asking, “What’s Going On?”