The Detroit Lions are ready to encounter the Green Bay Packers for the first time in 2019, and the Packers will be a significantly changed team from the one Detroit ran over to finish the 2018 season and has beaten in four straight games dating back to 2017.
This year’s version of the Packers have started hot thanks to a balanced offense and a defense which is improved in multiple ways thus far this season. Knowing this, the challenge will be great for Detroit. Here’s a closer look at what makes the Packers tick thus far in 2019.
Opposing Player to Watch – Aaron Jones
Coming off a game in which Jones rushed for 4 touchdowns on the afternoon, the Lions have to be aware of the talent this running back brings to the table and the consistency with which he’s played so far this season. Of course the Packers have other weapons in Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams, Jimmy Graham and company, but a missing link to this group has long been a power back who can make plays and score touchdowns. Jones brings all that to the mix and then some for the Packers. Detroit’s run defense has been up and down to start the season, so they will need to be on in this affair. In Detroit last season, Jones only rushed for 40 yards in a 31-23 loss, so it will be imperative for the Lions to stonewall him again, especially after a hot week of rushing the football.
Key Personnel Group – Wide Receiver
As good as Jones has looked at running back, the Packers have weapons at wide receiver, too. Everyone knows about Davante Adams, but in Geronimo Allison and Marquez Valdez-Scantling, the Packers have two intriguing talents who can erupt at any time. How the wideouts perform against the Lions could determine if the Packers are able to win the game. Detroit’s rush defense should be keyed in on stopping Jones, and it’s not wise to bet on him collecting another multiple touchdown outburst. This means the wideouts will have to bring it in a big way this week in order to help Rodgers and the offense.
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Can They Defend?
Yes. Better than in the past, too. The Packers have started the season as a solid defense and have been getting after the quarterback with their new duo of Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith. Though they rank 22nd in total defense this season, Green Bay has been very opportunistic, racking up 15 sacks and currently standing as a +7 in the turnover margin. There’s a lot to like about what Mike Pettine’s defense has done so far this season, and the Lions will be challenged greatly by this group at home.
Biggest Name Missing – Davante Adams
Last week, Adams was sidelined against the Cowboys, which took a major weapon out of the Green Bay attack. That didn’t stop the Packers from putting up 34 points. The passing offense, however, suffered greatly without Adams in the fold. Green Bay’s leading receiver was Jones with 75 yards. Allison and Valdez-Scantling only combined for 46 yards in this game, with Graham only accounting for 41 yards. If Adams can’t go on Monday Night Football, it could be a struggle for the Packers to unleash the full capacity of their areal attack. Adams would figure to be closer to a go this week, but if he doesn’t play, the Packers could be in a serious bind.
Headset Heads Up
This game will mark the first time Matt LaFleur plays against the Lions. LaFleur, casually called an offensive genius, will also have to go against Matt Patricia for the first time since Super Bowl LI. LaFleur was the quarterbacks coach of the Atlanta Falcons at that time, while Patricia was calling the shots for the New England Patriots’ defense. While the duo didn’t go head to head in that game, this will be Patricia’s first shot at a LaFleur offense and LaFleur’s first crack at a Patricia defense. It will be fun to see how the initial battle goes.
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