Packers Periscope: Week 10 vs. Detroit Lions

Up Periscope against the Packers' week 10 opponents, the Detroit Lions

The Past

While Packers fans are in a kerfuffle after two miserable losses against two undefeated top 5 teams, Lions fans have probably gone through that and more as they try to figure out what all went wrong in 2015.  It might be hard to remember looking at the futility of the 2015 Lions, but in 2014 the Lions were 11-5 and the dangerous young team that no one wanted to face; not only did they make the playoffs and narrowly lose to the Cowboys on a questionable play (which only increased the irony the Packers beat the Cowboys the next week on their own questionable play) but they also beat they beat the Packers in Detroit and matched the Packers 5-1 division record.   

While the Lions got the early lead on the series after a dominant defensive performance in game 3 in Detriot that held the Packers offense scoreless for the last 3 quarters, the 2nd game at Lambeau featured some fireworks as 6 touchdowns as the Packers secured the division crown.

The Present

Overall Team Efficiency

























Special Teams



Quarterback (DYAR)




(All statistics courtesy of Football Outsiders, click here for a detailed description of DVOA and DYAR.  And as always defensive DVOA is the inverse of offensive DVOA so negative numbers are better.)  

Statistically, the Packers took a bigger hit for their lackluster performance against Carolina than they did against the Broncos; again this is mostly due to opponent strength, Denver boasts one of the best defenses in the league and it was expect that the Packer struggled.  While the same could be said about Carolina, the Panthers have not been nearly as dominant as the Broncos and thus the Packers struggling is amplified in the statistics. 

Luckily the Packers don’t have to worry about a top 2 defense as they get the Detroit Lions, who are only second to the San Francisco 49ers in futility.  The passing game featuring Megatron and Matt Stafford, which was a huge part of the team last year, has been a big question mark, sometimes playing well while other times definitely not played up to that standard and the running game is literally the worse unit in the league. 

While simply being the worst running team in the NFL is bad enough, simply how bad they are at running the ball is even more astounding.  The Lions -31. 4% DVOA is the only running DVOA in the -30s and is a full 6% worse than the next worse team; the difference between the worst and 2nd worst passing DVOA is close to 1%. 

The biggest statistical matchup for the Packers will be the Packers passing offense against the Lions 30th ranked pass defense; if Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay receivers can’t get separation and yards against the Lions then they never will. 

Just to give you an idea of how different these two teams are, the Packers currently predicted to win the division 85% of the time (which makes their match up with 2nd place Minnesota that much more important).  The Lions on the other hand have a 0% of making the playoffs in 25,000 simulations.  On the flip side, Detroit has a 43% of getting the first pick in the draft and a 73% chance of picking in the top 3.


The Future

I think the biggest question is which year was the aberration, 2014 or 2015?  While heads have already started to roll with the firings of offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, and front office executives Martin Meyhew (GM) and Tom Lewand (president), what the Lions decide to do (or what next year's front office decides to do) about the roster is million dollar question.  If the Lions figure that this year was just unlucky and a result of poor coaching/management, then they might not try to change too much; core players like Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson have been accounted for and will likely have a couple productive years left at minimum.  The defense can be solid but likely will need some new talent to replace Suh’s departure. 

However, if the Lions front office ultimately decides that 2014 was the weird year, then it might be time to clean house.  Head coach Jim Caldwell rode on the coattails of Peyton Manning and it might finally be apparent that he’s not head coach material; player’s don’t seem terribly excited to play for him and ownership (which remind you hired and retained Matt Millen) might be looking for a splash hire.  Stafford and Johnson are two of the most overpaid players in the league and take up an inordinate percentage of the Lions salary cap.  Ndamukong Suh, while even not on the team still got paid $9.7 million for playing with the Miami Dolphins and Haloti Ngata is a good enough player but not worth $8.5 million.

The Lions, however, are starting to right the ship, while they have scraping the salary cap this year, Suh’s dead money ends this year and the Lions will have some financial freedom in the next couple years.  The only problem is that they don’t have much homegrown talent to pay; tackle Riley Reif and Ezekiel Ansah are probably the only two players even worth extending in the next two years and after there isn’t much to like.  Knowing that, the Lions will likely go on a free agent spending spree this and next offseason and as with most free agent spending sprees, will likely turn out worse than before. 

It’s kind of funny how the curse of Matt Millen lives on; while Millen has been working for the team for over 7 years, the Detroit Lions are still trying to get out of destruction that followed Millen.  Even when not considering the outlandish personel moves made by Millen, the Lions are still following the Millen strategy of spending big and kicking the can down the road for next year.  While they’ve finally cleaned up the mess made by Millen, something tells me that they’re about to repeat history and do it all over again.    


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Comments (5)

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Since'61's picture

November 14, 2015 at 08:31 am

Thomas, I think the column head in your chart is meant to read Lions not Panthers. Two things that I would like to see this week are 1) the Packers win at the LOS on both sides of the ball and 2) for Aaron Rodgers to return to playing up to his standards and to show some leadership as he began to do at the end of the Carolina game. Rodgers is not only the leader of the offense he is the leader of the entire team. It's time for him play and act like it and carry this team. I realize that this week's opponent is the lowly Lions but he needs to start sometime and there's no time like the present. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since '61

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croatpackfan's picture

November 14, 2015 at 04:57 am

I think 2014 was Lions year where the accumulated talent finally shows up, and that is only because they got new coach and new offensive leader on the side. D was,. anyhow already made as fearsome one... But, D was not Suh only and they lost several players in free agency (Fairley, now Rams players e. g.) and got Ansah and DeAndre Levy, who is out this season... So they lost, we can say complete D.
I agree that Matt Stafford is way to overpaid, and I thank God we have TT who knows when is time to left the player. Regarding Calvin Johnson, I think he deserves his money, but his injuries are product of taking whole offense of the franchise on his back... To be honest, I would like to see what Aaron Rodgers would be able to do with this set of players: Jordy, Randall & Calvin, Richard Rodgers and last year Eddie Lacy. I tell you, no defense would be able to stop them, no D!
All together, look at rebuilding process for Lions next few years. I only do not know will they keep Calvin and Golden Tate...

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sheppercheeser's picture

November 14, 2015 at 05:52 am

I'm having a real hard time "getting up" for this game. GB is playing arguably the NFL's worst team in football. If they win, it's expected and if they lose, it's a disgrace. Stafford has never played worse and the whole Detroit team is in disarray. Not sure if I'll even watch my beloved Packers this weekend- hard to get excited. Now, the upcoming Minnesota game is a different story........

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NickPerry's picture

November 14, 2015 at 08:25 pm

Be nice to see them hang 40 plus on the Lions (Because they SHOULD), the run defense hold them under 50 yards (Because they Should), and the pass defense not giving up 450 yards and 24 points or more. BECAUSE THEY SHOULD! That should at least give the Packers a little something going into Minnesota. Just because it's the Lions is EXACTLY why those things should happen.

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Ibleedgreenmore's picture

November 14, 2015 at 06:00 am

If they lose how bad are they, I mean they should win with no problem but the last two weeks wow how bad was that.

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