Packers vs. Lions: 3 key matchups to watch in Week 2

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The Green Bay Packers have not started a season 0-2 since 2005. Couple that with the fact that head coach Matt LaFleur has not lost back-to-back games during his tenure, and a loss to the Detroit Lions on Monday night would be almost unprecedented.

However, the Packers can’t look past the Lions like it appeared they did the New Orleans Saints in Week 1. Dan Campbell’s team fought hard in their 41-33 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Unlike Green Bay, they clawed their way back from a huge deficit to give themselves a fighting chance. Not to be dismissed, Jared Goff threw for 338 yards and three touchdowns in his debut as the new starter.

However, the Lions do not have a great roster, which has been the case for what feels like the last decade if not longer. In fact, the Packers might have the advantage at just about every position group. With that said, this offense is still capable of putting up points. That should worry fans following the performance of Joe Barry’s defense against the Saints.

Naturally, there will be plenty to watch for when the Packers try to right their wrongs from the season opener. Let’s highlight some important matchups every fan should take note of during their first divisional game of 2021:

Packers C Josh Myers vs. Lions DL Alim McNeil

(AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

Aaron Rodgers was pleased with the debut of his rookie center. Rodgers praised Myers’ handling of different cadences and his performance in pass protection. The rookie out of Ohio State allowed only one pressure in 41 pass-blocking snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. However, Detroit has a rookie of their own who graded well last week. McNeil was very physical against the 49ers, finishing with four tackles and three stops (tackles that constitute a "failure" for the offense). Expect some rookie-on-rookie crime when Myers and McNeil face off in the trenches. https://twitter.com/PriscoCBS/status/1438526800770985989

Matt LaFleur vs Running the Ball

Green Bay head coach Matt Lafleur.

This is not so much about Aaron Jones vs. the Lions defense as it is LaFleur’s commitment to running the ball. Detroit graded out as the second-worst run defense in Week 1 per PFF after surrendering 131 yards on the ground and two rushing touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Packers made very little effort to get their run game going against New Orleans. LaFleur leaned heavily on Rodgers’ arm to get back into the game but to no avail. Aaron Jones carried the ball just five times, which should probably be his total at the end of the first quarter. Jones has had success against the Lions' defense during his career and should be a focal point in this week's game plan.

Packers OLB Preston Smith vs. Lions LT Penei Sewell

(AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman)

Smith was the only defensive player to stand out for the Packers in Week 1. He was the highest-graded defender by PFF, totaling five tackles, three stops, and one quarterback pressure. It was a promising start for Smith, who is in dire need of a bounce-back season. This week, he will spend a lot of time against Sewell, the 2021 seventh overall pick and Detroit’s starting left tackle. Sewell looked like the real deal against San Francisco as he held his own against All-Pro defensive end Nick Bosa. Green Bay will be without their top pass rusher Za’Darius Smith for at least the next three weeks and need someone to step up in his absence.

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