Monday Night Football Deciding the North (For Now)

The Lions are a sneaky-good football team heading into their first division game at Lambeau Field. The Packers and Lions won't face off again until Week 17 to close the regular season. This one is big. 

“The bottom line is, whoever wins this game is going to be the leader in the North,” said Head Coach Matt LaFleur at his midweek presser. 

The Packers and Lions have a number of storylines to consider heading into Monday Night Football at Lambeau Field (will Davante Adams play? Mike Daniels is returning in a different uniform), but that one might be the most important for the time being. Win on Monday, lead the NFC North. 

For the Packers, this is an opportunity to sit 3-0 in the division, with not a single division game remaining until their last three games of the season, the gauntlet that has them hosting Chicago Week 15 before traveling to Minneapolis Week 16 and Detroit Week 17 to close the 2019 regular season. 

For the Lions, this is an opportunity to start their division games 1-0. Unlike the Vikings and Bears, who have both played two division games already, it’s taken the Lions six weeks (five games) to face their first NFC North opponent. 

The Packers haven’t started the season 3-0 in the division since 2012 when they played the Bears Week 2, the Lions Week 11, and the Vikings Week 13. That season also saw the Packers playing a stretch of three straight division games (Weeks 13-15), with the Packers winning all three. Their lone division loss that season came Week 17 against the Vikings. For the record, the Packers and Vikings had a rematch the very next week in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, and the Packers won that one. 

The Lions on the other hand haven’t won the division since it became the NFC North in 2002. Going back even further, Detroit hasn’t won the division since 1993 when it was named the NFC Central. 

Now while I’m sure that reads as a shot at Detroit, it’s not intended that way. It’s simply illustrating the importance of this game for both the Packers and the Lions. There’s plenty at stake for both teams. 

This is perhaps the Lions’ best opportunity in years to become a contender in the NFC North, and it just happens to come in a year that all four teams are playing well. The NFC North remains the only division in football currently where no team has a losing record: Packers (4-1), Lions (2-1-1), Bears (3-2), Vikings (3-2). 

The Packers helped themselves winning a road game in Dallas last week, but the Lions are coming off a bye and a near-win against the Chiefs. Both squads have plenty of momentum going into the Lambeau Field matchup Monday night. 

Additionally, both teams can make arguments for their almost perfect records. The Packers lost a one-score game to the Eagles after two unsuccessful red zone trips without star receiver Davante Adams in the huddle. The Lions missed their opportunity to put the Cardinals away and only came up four points short against the Chiefs. 

The Packers have won their four games by a cumulative 33 points, giving them an 8.25 average. The Lions have won their two games by a cumulative six points, giving them an average of three. One field goal was the difference between a win and a tied game for both of the Lions’ victories. 

Expectations were high for both the Bears and Vikings before the season began, which is perhaps what makes this Packers vs Lions matchup so appealing. The Lions haven’t had their measuring stick game against the rest of the NFC North, and the Packers have measured up well in their two contests. The game on Monday Night Football is bigger than a single W on the schedule. Yes, we’re only six weeks in so there’s a lot of football left to be played, but this game’s for all of the NFC North marbles a third of the way through the season.  

These two teams won’t meet again until Week 17, and next time they do, they very well could be playing for the NFC North crown.

 

Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV and a podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

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Comments (33)

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Lphill's picture

October 11, 2019 at 05:33 am

Packers must score often and fast and the defense has to force Stafford into making some bad throws I think we will see the Packers using more blitz.packages than we have seen in the last couple of games.

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ReaganRulz's picture

October 11, 2019 at 06:03 am

The GB offense keeps improving and this should continue against the Lions. I would expect the GB defense to pressure Stafford pretty heavily and get some more turnovers.

The Lions have a talented running back and they would be wise to ride that train unlike what Dallas did with Elliott.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

October 11, 2019 at 09:29 am

Dallas didn't have much of a choice. GB had them at a 31-3 deficit. GB was stopping Elliot but they couldn't stop Cooper. To get a lot of points fast they needed to feed Amari.

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sheppercheeser's picture

October 11, 2019 at 06:26 am

I see Bevel keeping the Packer defense scrambling by making quick, short passes. This game has me worried. Probably will be determined by who makes the fewest mistakes (interceptions/fumbles).

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murf7777's picture

October 11, 2019 at 09:04 am

Every game has me worried. But, wins in the NFC north heightens the stakes! GPG.

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Nick Perry's picture

October 11, 2019 at 06:43 am

If for no other reason the Packers should come out beat down the Lions because they've lost 4 in a row. Rodgers was knocked out the last time they played so I'd hope he's looking for some payback in the way of winning a very MEANINGFUL game in week 6.

Galloway is a beast and Marvin Jones always seems to play well against GB. Hopefully, King is healthy enough to play because he might be a better matchup on Galloway. The Lions tackles haven't been great this year so "The Smiths" should have some success pressuring Stafford who WILL toss it up.

Even if Adams plays I'd ride Aaron Jones in this one. The Lions pass defense is tough because they rarely blitz and drop 7 or sometimes 8 into coverage. That concerns me for this group of Packers WR who are young and haven't had the time with Rodgers to know how to work and find the holes in the secondary.

I hope Jamal Williams is able to play. Not only because it would be AWESOME to see him on the field again after that CHEAP hit by Barrett a few weeks ago, but it gives the Packers a much more viable option at RB not named Aaron Jones.

Interesting stat.... Next Gen Stats came up with a new stat called "Dime"... It's a stat for QB's where a pass travels downfield at least 30 yards into a window less than 1 yard. Russell Wilson leads the NFL in this stat with 40 completions which isn't surprising given hows he's been playing. BUT next is Stafford who has 34 completions which surprised me. Packers corners will have to play tight coverage Monday Night.

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SterlingSharpe's picture

October 11, 2019 at 07:58 am

U got your login straightened out! Welcome back Nick Perry.

This game worries me too.
Patricia had their team buying in, their defense playing well & their offense much more sound than before.

I expect Kerryon Johnson to hurt us like Jordan Howard & Dalvin Cook did.

Kenny Golliday is a tough matchup for Jaire (who just made Amari Cooper look like a 1st ballot HOFer) or for King.

There aren't any "must-win" games yet. But this one is huge. Just look at the standings with a W or a L.

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Johnblood27's picture

October 11, 2019 at 06:50 am

I know that there are a lot of new faces on this 2019 Packer team, but it shouldn't be lost on this group that Detroit has beaten the Packers 4 straight times after being on the schneid for a very long time.

The Lions have a lot of confidence playing GB and this will be a tough game in prime time.

Business as usual should take care of the winning and losing question with the Pack coming out on top in the friendly confines of Lambeau field.

The biggest challenge I see for the offense this week is without Davante MLF needs to come up with a few tweaks on the offensive game plan that he deployed in Dallas last week. Teams in the NFL will scheme to take away what they think (see on your previous tape) you want to do.

Last weeks use of AJ in both the run and pass game and the TE involvement will be contained by Det defensive scheme so only greater individual efforts will enable the same results. Alternatively some new wrinkles should open up possibilities for the Packer offense to be successful.

I could see Vitale playing a larger role this week in run and pass opportunities as well as MVS getting more targets. Good news in the return of Jamal Williams who will bring some tough running to the table to complement AJ's lightning. This could be a game where MLF really highlights the run game for 60 minutes with AJ, JW, TC and DV all getting significant touches. The OL seems to be coming together and Jenkins is a beast, I expect the run game to continue to build momentum.

Of course Detroit getting out to a 2+ score lead would severely impact that strategy. Lets not see that happen!

The Packer defense has shown the propensity to give up lots of yards, it would be nice to see things tighten up a bit there. Detroit does not possess the big play talent that some of the previous opponents have, so I would expect Pettine to have the defense ready this week. Gap discipline and group tackling should be enough to contain the Lions offense, especially if Alexander gets back to being more consistent in his coverage and King plays most of the defensive snaps. Having Savage back would certainly be a nice addition although Redmond and Sullivan played well in Dallas. The front 7 should be able to generate plenty of pressure on Stafford so the opportunity for a few turnovers should present itself, lets hope that the opportunities do not get dropped when they happen (Im talking to you, KK).

Prime Time in Lambeau,, looks like a chance for MLF to show that 4-1 isnt a fluke and that the Pack is indeed back and on track!

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murf7777's picture

October 11, 2019 at 09:34 am

JB, I think yards are a measuring stick (no pun intended), but getting taken out of context when deciding how good a defense is, or even an Offense. Take Dallas game for instance, we went to a soft defense late in the 3rd quarter and allowed way more yards then if it was a close game. With a 28 point lead we could afford that luxury. DVOA has us rated #9 on D & O right now and I think that is about right. That stated, I agree, I would love to see them tighten that up a bit and just blow out the team with that kind of lead. I give Dallas some of the credit thou as they are a very good team and that win and the win in Chicago show me the Packers are for REAL.

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Leatherhead's picture

October 11, 2019 at 11:15 am

Yards aren't nearly as good as points, and we've done pretty well there. I agree with their DVOA ranking, to an extent. And I wished we'd stepped on Dallas' neck instead of giving up those points at the end, but the bottom line is they were managing the win. I'll take a managed win.

We should win the turnover battle against the Lions. Just as surely as my Daddy and his Daddy said you have to be able to run the ball when it gets colder, the Packers have to stuff this kind of weak Detroit running game. They run it a lot (5th in the league) for average yards (13th) and few TDs (28th).

The Eagles didn't turn the ball over at all against us, and we gave up over 30 and lost. Every other game we've had takeaways and the opponent has had a hard time scoring and we've won. Coincidence? No. And the Lions turn the ball over.

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stockholder's picture

October 11, 2019 at 08:04 am

The Packers have won because of Defense. And Defense is the only way they win again. Stafford is a good QB. He can throw. But the Lions still make Stupid mistakes. They play over them. It's those mistakes the Packers will have to take advantage of. Taking chances is what the Lions do. Rodgers only needs to play smart and not do the same.

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hobowilly's picture

October 11, 2019 at 11:42 am

SH, if you draw down comparing the overall abilities of #9 -vs- #12, I'll take our AR anytime! I love the new coaching staff, the approach, attititude and their innate ability to scheme. That, and winning the TO battle puts another W in our column sir!

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Samson's picture

October 11, 2019 at 08:35 am

The Lions are still the Loins... The game is at Lambeau... The Pack were a losing team both years that they lost 4 in a row to the Loins -- that's all history....The only time close matters in the NFL is when you win... The Loins were close against KC but lost....

The Loins will struggle to stay close in this game.... The Loins will also struggle to win as many as they lose in season 2019.... ---- GB 31 --- Lions 13

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Tundraboy's picture

October 11, 2019 at 08:01 pm

Going down to the Lions and making it 0-5 is not an option this year. Definitely don't want that monkey on our back for the rest of the season. I'm pretty sure the players know that, and will take care of business.

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canadapacker's picture

October 11, 2019 at 09:07 am

I go into the is game with a lot of trepidation. We may have done some very good things defensively against the cowboys but we also gave up a lot of yards ( over 500) and a lot of big plays and missed tackles. Stafford will eat us up if we cannot get to him. And if we all out rush him then the running game will hurt us. Alexander got eatin up and he needs help .

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Jonathan Spader's picture

October 11, 2019 at 11:22 am

Alexander doesn't need help. He needs to stay in the slot where he has dominated. What he showed is he's not at a point where he can go 1 on 1 with elite NFL WRs. Amari Cooper exposed Alexander but Detroit doesn't have a WR of Cooper's quality.

Giving up a lot of yards was covered in a previous post and multiple threads. Points determine who wins and loses football games not yards. Try to appreciate the turnover differential and stop focusing on the negative. GB has an AGGRESSIVE defense and the advantage to that has been QB pressures, TFL, sacks, FFs, and Ints. The disadvantage has been giving up big plays and relatively poor run defense.

As long as Rodgers puts points on the board early and often like he did against Dallas Detroit won't be able to ise their run game. Johnson isn't Elliot. Detroit faced KC was a hobbled Mahomes. I fully expect GB to dismantle Detroit! Go Pack Go!

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mrtundra's picture

October 11, 2019 at 09:08 am

It's past time that we beat the Lions! Our defense should be up to the task. Pressure Stafford into making bad throws and our DBs could have a field day scooping up INTs. Stopping their running game is, once again, a priority. Just like it was in Dallas. Time to put an end to losing to Detroit. Time to move the win-loss indicator to the win column. GO PACK, GO!!!

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murf7777's picture

October 11, 2019 at 09:24 am

You can talk about our D and running game or even Scott's punting, but it will be Arod who will take us to victory! He will be one motivated individual to take down the Lions and will lead this team on the field. Not only do we have Arod, but we have a more talented team and a better coach in MLF. This should be high scoring game with the Packers coming out with a decisive 35-20 win.

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Matt Gonzales's picture

October 11, 2019 at 09:52 am

It is not our most storied or most bitter rivalry, but the Lions always play GB hard. Stafford is much better than his record, and he has the ability to make big things happen when he gets flushed out of the pocket. This will be a big test for the defensive front to get pressure while also not letting the QB break free and start moving.

The Packers win this one if they can control the LOS on both sides and find success running the ball so they can control the tempo of the game.

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hobowilly's picture

October 11, 2019 at 11:56 am

Hi Matt! Hah, you don't want much (e.g. if we can control both LOS's)!! All kidding aside though, one key stat that it looks GB has an eye on is TOP (time of possession). Yes, controling the tempo of the game from the start is definately key, however that's done through RPO's or whatever. TO's will be critical as well as GB's defensive swagger brought!

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LambeauPlain's picture

October 11, 2019 at 10:06 am

I like the Packer offensive line against Detroit’s front seven. Coach Matt has been very good scripting his first couple of drives. If the Packers can get up by two scores the Lions will be forced to throw. And the Packer pass defense is a strength.

Then AJ can do his thing and salt the game way.

Packers 31 to 17.

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JohnnyLogan's picture

October 11, 2019 at 10:16 am

We have the worst receiving corps we've had in decades. The Lions play a three man rush. Eight defenders against the pass. Does anyone really expect Allison and MVS to suddenly find themselves open when after five games they are both among the worst receivers in football? MVS is at least respectable, for a #3 receiver, coming in at #69 with 47 yards per game. Allison?... averaging 2 catches and 20 yards per game. He's our slot receiver. Edelman gets those numbers in the first series of every game. Allison comes in at #152. And he still gets to put on a uniform?

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Matt Gonzales's picture

October 11, 2019 at 10:37 am

You're not wrong, but what is the point bemoaning it? I think you'll see some stuff on Monday to try to create soft spots in coverage, maybe putting 4 receivers out more than in previous weeks, but at this point MLF needs to figure out how to use what GB has. There's not space on the cap to absorb another high end WR contract if they want to roll anything over to help extend Martinez, and none of the street FA options out there right now really represent an upgrade over our current options (sure, Dez is out there, but who knows how much he has lost from injuries or if he can even pass a physical at this point).

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Tundraboy's picture

October 11, 2019 at 08:05 pm

Roll over for Martinez? How about Kenny Clark?

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murf7777's picture

October 11, 2019 at 10:56 am

Yes, I for one, expect them to improve as the season progresses. Darn it, if us fans, or more importantly our team, gave up on Jordy after year two and/or even most of year three we would of missed one heck of a career. You could also add Driver to that list. Of all positions, receivers take the longest to develop. I watch NFL game pass after the games and with the Coaches tape with a camera up high you do see them getting open at times. Remember, this is also a new offense being instituted and it takes time to gel.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

October 11, 2019 at 11:43 am

We beat Detroit with Jeff Janis and Jared Abberderis at WR even though it took Rodgers putting on a cape. We beat Dallas without Adams and they're a better team than Detroit on paper. Time for MVS, Allison, Kumerow, amd Graham to step up.

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CheesyTex's picture

October 11, 2019 at 12:12 pm

And maybe give Shepard plenty of snaps in the slot?

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Packers2019's picture

October 11, 2019 at 11:01 am

Win the TO battle and make no ST's mistakes and we win.

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Spock's picture

October 11, 2019 at 11:23 am

Stafford has always had the ability and can throw well. But I like our chances with our Smith & Company defense and an opportunistic secondary. If most of our "walking wounded" guys can play I see this game coming down to the Packers being plus (+) in the TO column and I really see that happening. Pettine's D is jelling pretty well and I love MLF and the offensive co-coordinator's adjustment of game plan for each opponent. I think Detroit is going to be really focused on A. Jones and some of the RPO's on fake hand-offs will be for big yardage. A. Rodgers has been playing really, really, well and seems to be enjoying getting the W with the MLF's new offensive philosophy. I wouldn't be surprised to see Vitale and the TE's seeing lots of action either. The Packer games this year are just plain FUN to watch! GPG

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Since'61's picture

October 11, 2019 at 03:46 pm

The Lions are going to see a different Packers teams then they have seen over the the last few seasons. A faster and better defense and a new approach on offense. They haven't faced the Smiths yet and they haven't had to play against our revitalized secondary which will hopefully include Savage back on the field.

Our OL should hold up well against the Lions DL which looks pretty banged up based on their injury report. If they are going to rush 3 against Rodgers he will have time to cut them up and when necessary his mobility will either keep the play alive or enable him to run for some yardage. Hopefully with Jamaal Williams back plus Aaron Jones our ground game will keep the Lions defense honest.

We need to play with a lead and keep Stafford off the field as much as possible. Force the Lions to become one dimensional and we'll get a few TOs. We need to make the most of our home field advantage. Division game, at Lambeau, better team than we have had in at least a few seasons, I like the Pack 33 - 16. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

Note to Corey, Al and CHTV team: I have posted this from my laptop per Corey's instructions from earlier today. Still unable to login from my iPhone. Thanks for your support on this, I will keep trying and keep you informed. Best regards, Since '61

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PatrickGB's picture

October 11, 2019 at 09:54 pm

It seems to me, at least this year, that every week before a game I don’t know what Packers team will show up. Will it be defense? Will it be Offense, will we have a run first game with success or will Rodgers light them up? Will our DBs get schooled or will the turnover machine take charge. Can our 4 man rush get to the QB? Or will Pettine dial up some pressure? Will our injuries keep the game out of reach or will our backups shine? I really don’t know. What I do know is that the Lions are for real and so are we.

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Gort's picture

October 12, 2019 at 04:18 am

Adams needs to get healthy and not come back too soon. IMHO that may actually make the team better because it forces other options. At Dallas there were no passing TDs, but show me 34 against Detroit and I will show you 5-1.

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