Friday, September 23, 2016

Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers Preview

Steven Callahan is a new writer at the Green Bay Packers Blog and I'm very pleased to publish his first article.
The Detroit Lions (1-1) and Green Bay Packers (1-1) both are coming off games they know they should have won. The Lions blew a 15-3 fourth quarter lead to the Tennessee Titans at home, while the Packers lost to the Minnesota Vikings 17-14 on Sunday Night Football. It is obviously way too early to talk about playoff implications, but all division games in the NFL mean a lot.

The Lions saw the Titans score two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including an Andre Johnson red zone touchdown catch while he had three Lion defenders draped on him. This is the second straight game the Lions defense gave up big points late in the game. They allowed Andrew Luck and the Colts to score 17 in the fourth quarter of their season opener in a game they nearly let slip out of their hands.

The Packers offense looked below average against the stingy Vikings defense, scoring just two touchdowns. Aaron Rodgers played pedestrian at best, throwing for 213 yards, one touchdown, and one interception for a quarterback rating of 52.8, far below his 103.8 career rating (the highest of all-time, no big deal). The Vikings defense seemed to rattle Rodgers, sacking him five times, and never letting him get into a groove. Besides a 39-yard catch by Jordy Nelson, there was no other completion over 15 yards.

The Packers and Lions had two very memorable games last season. After losing 24 straight games in Lambeau Field, the Lions finally won in Green Bay for the first time since 1991. The Packers got their revenge and still figured out a way to torment the Lions, as Aaron Rodgers’ prayers were answered on a 61-yard Hail Mary to Richard Rodgers at Ford Field. Rodgers threw the ball 70 yards in the air, something only he can do.

For the Packers, the game will be decided on both sides of the passing game. Matthew Stafford is currently seventh in the league with 600 passing yards and tied for second place in touchdowns with five. However, the Lions have been one of the worst pass defenses, ranking 22nd with 592 passing yards allowed and 28th with 5 passing touchdowns allowed. Rodgers has owned the Lions in his career, throwing an average of 253 yards per game, 26 touchdowns, and averaging a QB rating of 105.9. All these stats have combined for a career 11-3 record against them.

The Packers also need to take advantage of the Lions’ lack of discipline. The Lions committed an eye-popping 17 penalties for 138 yards and got three touchdowns (3!) called back along with five first downs due to penalties last week. Rodgers and the offense need to take advantage and test this Lions’ secondary, as it is likely they either give up a big play or get called for a penalty. The defense also needs to create pressure all game, as the Lions have been called for nine offensive holding penalties this year. This could mean big games for Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews on the edge.

There has been a lot of talk this week about the Packers not playing up their standards. A NFL executive has said, “This isn’t a typical Ted Thompson roster. They need Aaron Rodgers to cover up more holes than usual. There has been some deterioration there.” So what better way to address the state of the team than beating the Lions at home? The Lions are a team filled with defensive problems as well as injuries, with running back Ameer Abdullah being placed on the IR, and also Ezekiel Ansah, DeAndre Levy, and Kyle Van Noy not practicing.

The Lions are hurting, can’t stop the pass, and entering an environment where they have won once in 24 years. Look for Aaron Rodgers to get back on track in his first game at Lambeau this season. The Packers have to seize this opportunity to send a message to the league that they may be working out the kinks, but they are still one of the best teams in the NFL. However, if the Packers do lost this game, it may not be time to R-E-L-A-X.

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