The Green Bay Packers are getting set to face a Detroit Lions team that has lost its last three games, including a heartbreaker against the Pittsburgh Steelers where the Lions' offense simply could not punch the ball in the end zone.
The Lions had 18 offensive snaps in the red zone against the Steelers and came away with nine points Sunday night. Obviously, the Packers should be ready for a team that has spent the week working on its red zone woes.
We caught up with Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, who covers the Lions on a daily basis, to see what kind of team the Packers will be taking on Monday night at Lambeau Field. You can find his answers both in the video above and in the Q&A below.
1. What is this the feeling around this Lions team after dropping their third straight game? Are they looking at Monday night as a "must-win"?
I don't know if anyone on the team would go so far as to say it's a "must-win," but they certainly realize the hole they'll be in if they lose a fourth straight game Monday night to fall to 3-5. The Lions know they caught a break with Aaron Rodgers' injury, but their recent play has left them with little room for error over the next two months. If they're going to win their first division title since 1993, they need to beat Brett Hundley and the Packers at Lambeau Field.
2. How has the addition of former Packer T.J. Lang contributed to the improvement along the Lions' offensive line?
Lang has played well this year. He's probably been the Lions' best offensive lineman. But the line as a whole has been a disappointment as the Lions rank near the bottom of the league in rushing and near the top in sacks allowed. The Lions have been without left tackle Taylor Decker all year, and that's contributed to their struggles, and right tackle Rick Wagner has not lived up to the massive contract he signed this offseason. The Lions were counting on Lang and Wagner to stabilize the right side of their line, and only Lang, who missed one game with a back injury earlier this year, has delivered so far.
3. The Steelers and Lions traded accusations of dirty play after last weekend's game. Is there any validity to that, or were those quotes simply a product of a hard-fought game?
I think that was about some tense moments in a hard-fought game, but the Lions were absolutely wrong to fire off the line when the Steelers were taking a knee to run out the clock. They acted out of frustration, plain and simple, as Akeem Spence accused Steelers linemen of chop-blocking him and taking unnecessary shots to the head during the game. The Steelers were right to be angry about the final minutes, though it should be noted that this wasn't a Greg Schiano production where Lions players were diving at the knees of their blockers and it wasn't something the Lions had done before.