Gametime for the Detroit Lions is coming quickly. Dan Campbell’s Lions are looking to break a five-game losing streak by extending Green Bay’s slide to that dubious number.
It’s not going to be easy for the Lions to pull off the win, not even at home. Not even against the worst Packers team of the 21st century, between all their injuries and roster attrition. Even with all that, Green Bay remains a road favorite.
Will the Lions win? Who steps up and has a big game? How does the Week 9 matchup play out? These are some of my Sunday morning thoughts and final game prediction for the Lions vs. the Packers.
Good game for the Lions DL
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One of the big reasons for the recent decline of the Packers has been the regression of their offensive line. Injuries have really hindered the unit, which doesn’t play with cohesion or confidence.
The Lions can pounce on that. From Alim McNeill and John Cominsky on the inside to rookies Aidan Hutchinson and Josh Paschal on the (mostly) outside, the Detroit defensive front has its most consistently impactful game since the Week 2 win over Washington against the Packers, whose two best linemen (Elgton Jenkins and David Bakhtiari) are both questionable.
The TEs step up with no more Hockenson
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No T.J. Hockenson? No problem, at least not against the Packers.
This is not an endorsement of rookie James Mitchell or Brock Wright as game-changers, though I do see a combined five catches for 48 yards from the duo.
This is more about the Packers badly missing their top linebacker, De’Vondre Campbell. The All-Pro is out with a knee injury. Rookie LB Quay Walker is athletic but hasn’t been good in coverage, and the rest of the middle-of-field defense is either unproven or playing poorly in pass defense.
Green Bay's pass rush will be a problem
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Green Bay doesn’t have gaudy sack numbers on the season, but they can create some serious issues with a diverse, skilled pass rush.
Two players in particular worry me from a Lions perspective: Kenny Clark and Rashan Gary. Detroit’s offensive line has been solid but not impervious to teams that can bring pressure from more than one source. Running the ball well only does so much to slow them down, and Jared Goff doesn’t have the mobility to keep them honest when they turn the corner or collapse the pocket.
What heretofore unknown Packer shines?
Unless you watched the Packers in their humiliating loss to the Bills last week or are a fan of Nebraska football, you’re probably not familiar with Samori Toure. And that’s why Lions fans should fear the Packers’ seventh-round wideout from the Cornhuskers.
Toure has only played in the last two games, catching two passes. One of those was a garbage-time TD in the loss to Buffalo, the other a four-yarder the week before. He’s the kind of player that even Packers fans making the trek to Ford Field will need to look up.
And that makes him very dangerous for Detroit. The Lions will focus on stopping fellow rookie WR Romeo Doubs and big vet Alan Lazard (if he plays, he’s questionable with a shoulder injury). Aaron Rodgers won’t play favorites. He’ll find the open guy, and that will be Toure. Probably at the most inopportune time for the Lions’ fate…
The Lions finally get a second-half score
It’s been over three games since the Lions scored in the second half. They’ve been outscored 40-0 after halftime by the Patriots, Cowboys and Dolphins, all losses.
That ugly drought ends in Week 9.
Bold prediction: The Lions will score on their first two drives of the second half. One will be a Jared Goff-to-Kalif Raymond connection, the other a FG from Michael Badgley.
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I expect this one to be close all the way, with a couple of lead changes and no margin bigger than 11 points all game. The Detroit defense has its best game of the season in terms of yardage allowed and rushing yards. But in the end, Aaron Rodgers finds a way–almost certainly with the help of a controversial officiating call.
Packers 25, Lions 23