The Lions lost a close affair against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week, falling 20-15 on Sunday Night Football. The difference all day was the Steelers red zone defense, as Detroit mounted three second-half drives of 70+ yards only to come away with just three points from them as they stalled out within the 10-yard line every time. The Lions were held out of the end zone all night and had to lean on Matt Prater’s metronomic leg to score.
Green Bay spend last week on a bye, licking their wounds and trying to come up with a way to win without Aaron Rodgers on the field.
Finding a running attack
The Detroit Lions have struggled for a long time to find a consistent running game. They are averaging just 3.5 yards a carry despite the investment in TJ Lang and Rick Wagner that rebuild the right side of the offensive line.
Ameer Abdullah is carrying the bulk of the load on the ground, with 369 yards at 3.7 a clip, but it has been a problem all year for the Lions that when they need to turn to the ground game they just can’t do it. Green Bay have been a below average run defense this year, can they finally find some rhythm on the ground?
Protecting the ball
Green Bay, and the rest of the NFL, don’t enjoy life without Aaron Rodgers. The Packers quarterback has been responsible for some of the most amazing plays in the NFL over the years, and without him the Packers are going to have to completely rethink their offense.
They have had the bye week to come up with ways to move the ball without #12, but they have to be wary of Brett Hundley’s shortcomings and limit his exposure to risky throws. Turning the ball over will kill Green Bay in this one.
Matthew Stafford has been playing well this season, spreading the ball around, moving away from pressure well, and leading a flawed team brilliantly. The Packers simply must get consistent pressure from different angles against him. Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, and Mike Daniels will be vital in this game to move Stafford off his spot but also to stop him rolling and scrambling which he does so well. If they can keep the ground game bottled up and force Detroit behind the chains then the unbridled pass rush of these three might be enough to cause havoc in the Lions’ backfield.
Matchup to Watch: Golden Tate vs Packers secondary
No one defensive back will be responsible for Golden Tate on Monday night, but they all have to be aware of where he lines up. Tate has long been one of the most elusive receivers with the ball in his hand, and if he can isolate someone he is almost certainly going to get by them and add yards to his catch. He has 43 catches ans 449 yards on the season so far and a shoulder injury was not enough to keep him down. The Packers must do a good job of limiting Tate’s opportunities or he will wreck the game for them.
Fantasy Tip: Lions D/ST
The Lions defense & special teams has been a solid unit fantasy-wise this season thanks to five touchdowns on the year. This week provides plenty of turnover opportunities along with limited points against. If they are available, grab them.
Betting Tip: Under 43.5
I don’t often recommend the points line, but this game has low-scoring written all over it. Green Bay’s defense is good, Detroit’s offense is limited, and there is no Aaron Rodgers. Take the under.
Prediction: Lions 24 – 13 Packers
This should be a comfortable win for Detroit, however there is some risk given it’s a prime time road game for them. Stafford should be able to do enough to keep the scoreboard ticking over, and the Lions should dominate the field position battle given Hundley’s shortcomings.
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