Lions vs Packers: Week 6 Matchup

Aaron breaks down both sides of the ball in his preview of Monday night's showdown with the Lions. 

Early control of the NFC North is at stake for the Packers as they welcome the Detroit Lions to Lambeau Field Monday night.

Here's a look at what to expect from both sides of the ball and my sure-to-be-incorrect call on who wins the game. 

When The Lions Have The Ball

Most Packers fans undoubtedly think of Matthew Stafford when they think of the Lions. He's been the quarterback in Detroit for a decade now. A lot has changed in that time, but Stafford has been the constant who has played pretty well against Green Bay year in and year out. (I know its popular to bash Stafford these days, but I think he's a much better player than most give him credit for.) 

As prevalent as he is, however, don't expect him to be the focal point of the Lions offensive game plan on Monday night. That honor will undoubtedly fall to running back Kerryon Johnson. The second year back may have started the year slow, but he is coming off a good game against the Chiefs two weeks ago that saw him carry the ball 26 times for 125 yards. 

Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell will be attacking the Packers 26th ranked run defense early and often. Last week, the Cowboys looked to be able to do what they wanted on the ground until the score got out of hand and they were forced to take to the air. I expect the Lions to have similar early success, forcing Mike Pettine to either play heavy personnel or bring an extra body into the box from the secondary. Neither one of these are appealing options with Stafford at QB. The veteran signal caller was outstanding last year at adjusting things at the line of scrimmage against whatever Pettine threw at him and taking advantage. The Packers need to be able to play coverage and stop the run with a four man front, or it is going to be a long day.

Speaking of taking to the air, Jaire Alexander needs a bounce back game after the Cowboys were able to take advantage of his aggressive play later in that contest. Explosive plays have been a problem all year long for this defense and the Packers can not afford to have one of their best players be giving them up. Look for Alexander to match up with Kenny Golladay for much of the evening, with Kevin King drawing Marvin Jones. Jones in particular has been a thorn in the side of the Packers for years now. 

One thing to keep an eye on is the matchup with rookie tight end TJ Hockenson. A promising start to the season was put on hold due to a concussion, but he is back at practice this week and seems set to return for the Lions on Monday night. He is a legitimate matchup issue for this defense.

While I expect a rotation of Blake Martinez, Oren Burks and possibly Chandon Sullivan or Josh Jackson to draw him in coverage, the Packers have their work cut out from them, especially if Darnell Savage is unable to play, which seems likely

When The Packers Have The Ball

Matt LaFleur and his staff will, most likely, be without their premiere offensive playmaker in Davante Adams for the second week in a row as he recovers from a turf toe injury suffered against the Eagles.

Against Dallas, the plan was to get the ball in the hands of Aaron Jones both via the run and the pass, and obviously this worked a treat. You can bet Lions head coach Matt Patricia, coming from the Belichick school of game planning to take away the best thing you do every week and make someone else beat you, will be building his game plan around stopping Jones. 

In the past, this may have seemed like folly with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, but given the unproven nature of the wide receivers he has to throw to, not to mention the return of one of the best corners in football in Darrius Slay, Patricia will most likely feel comfortable committing to stopping Jones. 

Can it work? Possibly, but I tend to think LaFleur, offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and quarterbacks coach Luke Getsy will have a counter punch at the ready from the get go. 

While I continue to hope Danny Vitale gets more involved in the passing game, I honestly think this game sets up nicely for Jake Kumerow to be very effective. He may have only had two targets last week (one of which probably ends up in the end zone if he doesn't slip turning up field ) but he played 67% of the offensive snaps. I expect his production to start to climb, starting Monday night. 

Of course, just because the Lions will be game planning for Jones doesn't mean the Packers won't utilize him. He is still their most dynamic playmaker and they will continue to get the ball in his hands both on the ground and through the air. The Lions are particularly banged up up front (former Packer Mike Daniels will most likely not play) and the Packers inside zone stuff that worked so well last week should continue to find life on Monday night.

LaFleur admitted the plan last week was to get Jones involved in the passing game more, and I don't think that stops on Monday night. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to see him utilized downfield at some point, as much of what he put on tape last week, outside of a sweet 3rd down play where he was motioned out wide and ran a slant for a first down, was in the flats or on check downs. If Detroit starts to overplay the horizontal stuff, it would offer the perfect opportunity to send Jones vertical, much like we saw in Seattle last year. 

Enough Already, Who Wins?

The Lions have certainly had enough time, coming off their bye week, to get rested and ready for their first divisional showdown of the season. The Packers, however, are second in the NFL in turnover differential and that undoubtedly comes into play in this one. The Lions are certainly not the pushovers they once were and they have handed the Packers four straight losses, but Green Bay starts a new Wisconsin winning streak by taking down Detroit on Monday night. 

Packers: 30

Lions:20

9 points

Comments (16)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
mnbadger's picture

October 11, 2019 at 02:20 pm

Agree with your pick, concerned about all of the "ifs" though.

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mnbadger's picture

October 11, 2019 at 02:23 pm

Updated score prediction: 31-27 Pack. Now off to Madison for homecoming weekend.

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Tundraboy's picture

October 11, 2019 at 07:52 pm

Likewise.

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Samson's picture

October 11, 2019 at 06:13 pm

Nice analysis & some great points... Getting AJ more vertical in the pass game could be a key... Any WR stepping up regardless of name would be great. --- How about "WR Unnamed"... seven receptions for 110 yards & a TD... Might happen.
However, the Pack +3 in the TO battle will cement this game. ----- GB 31 -- Lions 13. --- Book it!

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Since'61's picture

October 11, 2019 at 03:58 pm

With Jamaal Williams looking like he will return I would ground and pound with him and A. Jones against the Lions DL until they adjust to stop it. Then utilize Jones in the passing game and play action passes to keep the Lions D honest. Run the ball and stop the run will be the key for the Packers. Win the LOS on both sides of the ball, make the Lions one dimensional and force a few TOs. I think the Pack can win at home going away. Thanks, Since '61

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Lphill's picture

October 11, 2019 at 04:12 pm

Lions don’t blitz and are ranked 30 th against the pass . Good game for Rodgers to break out.

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pacman's picture

October 11, 2019 at 04:48 pm

film clip - if you put yourself in AR's shoes, the view is even lower. For him to pick up that AJ beats his man and throw it before AJ looks back reminds of me why I wouldn't make it as an NFL QB. OK - it was a safe throw since there was no other deep coverage but AR sees that too (probably). But he did underthrow AJ a bit too :) so maybe this isn't a new thing.

Oh the game - time for our other receivers to break out. Time for a little revenge for the last 2 years. And time for the offense to play a full game and not let up and fade at the end. 35-14 blowout.

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flackcatcher's picture

October 11, 2019 at 05:20 pm

This week I predict, PAIN!!!!! This is not just a division game, but a Black and Blue Division game. Going hear a lot popping in those hits. Neither team is going to hold back, so game officials should call this one tight early, or things could get chippy and downright ugly for both teams. (Yeah yeah, I know NFL, game control, lost art..) X-factors: Quarterbacks. Which Stafford will show up Monday night. Good Stafford, the top 5 QB in the league. Or the Bad one who is a interception worse decision QB in the league. There is no inbetween with this guy. Could be a long night for the Packer secondary. (But you can count of Stafford to pull at least one brain fart during a game. Packer D must be ready to take advantage of it.) Rodgers was very good last week. Which spells trouble for the Lions D. Bit by bit, he and MLF are starting to understand each other, and in return MLF is making adjustments to his scheme. (like going to inside zone/more wham blocking, taking advantage of his OL talent.) The only question is not if, but when Rodgers become fully engaged in MLF system. The Lions are hoping it is not this week. Unknowns: If both QB are on their game, then this will become who gets the football last. In the modern NFL, defensive's play at a disadvantage in the passing game. In that case, field position becomes even more critical. JK Scott is kicking at an all-pro level, stuffing the Lions in the back end is critical if Stafford is good Stafford Monday night. And Mason Crosby needs to be (pause) Mason Crosby. Special Teams. I pray for their success. Score. Tight pretty high scoring game. Packers WIN BABY! (by a touchdown.) PS. If had my way, I stuff down the Lions gut with Jones , Williams and Vitale (and Carson) all game long. Their front 7 is banged up, and I think our O line with the blocking adjustments made last week can take these guys. But that's not how the 'new NFL' plays. (Sigh....) A man can dream..... (No short Flacky this week heh heh heh...)

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murf7777's picture

October 12, 2019 at 12:39 pm

Stafford hasn’t seen a Packer D like this, I think he struggles with a couple INT after we take an early lead and make them one dimensional similar to the Dallas game.

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sheppercheeser's picture

October 13, 2019 at 07:03 am

I have a lot of respect for Darrell Bevel, the Lion's OC. I think he is smart enough to come in with a good plan and I think he has the ability to make adjustments as game conditions change. I still am not convinced either way how successful LaFleur is once he makes his half time adjustments. Seems the Packers get a nice lead and then hold on for dear life in the second half. That worries me.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

October 14, 2019 at 02:48 pm

Darrel Bevel doesn't make the Lions OL any better. Stafford has carved up the Packer defense the last 4 games when he isn't pressured. I expect the Smiths to being the heat. Maybe you're not convinced on MLF/Hackett but I'm sold on Rodgers and Jones.

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PatrickGB's picture

October 13, 2019 at 12:51 pm

Yes, all those “if’s” worry me too. I don’t see the same Packers play the same way week to week. Also, I am not impressed with the current WRs we have after the injury to Adams. I expect that the Lions DBs to have their way. The Lions will be ready for our run game and will limit it. Also the Lions will probably have a few good runbacks on STs. Sadly, the Packers lose by a field goal.

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GVPacker's picture

October 13, 2019 at 02:29 pm

Back in the day Matt Stafford was always good for at least two turnovers when he played the Packers. A strip sack fumble,, or a bone headed shovel pass into a blitzing Packer lineman's hands. Now that the Packers defense is creating copious amounts of turnovers I see no reason why he can't be a little nostalgic!

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4thand1's picture

October 14, 2019 at 02:53 pm

All I have to do is look at the picture above. Number 53 not anywhere near Stafford. Stafford won't be sitting back there waiting for a receiver to get open. It's Smith and Smith time, GOPACKGO.

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Lphill's picture

October 14, 2019 at 03:27 pm

The Lions secondary is banged up and already ranked 30 th against the pass . Not hard to figure out the Packers game plan , pass first then run to keep the clock moving. Thanks

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ILPackerBacker's picture

October 15, 2019 at 01:48 pm

Wow! thos back up WRs....they got it goin on!!!!
great call on sticking with them

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