Packers' next opponent: Confident Lions coming to Lambeau with NFC North lead on line

Jim Owczarski
Packers News
View Comments

The Green Bay Packers (4-1) will host the Detroit Lions (2-1-1) on "Monday Night Football" in an early matchup to determine who takes the driver’s seat in the NFC North.

Basics on the Lions

Last week

Detroit is coming off a bye. The Lions lost 34-30 at home to Kansas City on Sept. 29.


University of Wisconsin alumnus and former Packers quarterbacks coach Darrell Bevell is in his first year as the play caller for the Lions. Having come into the NFL under Mike Sherman and then coached under Brad Childress and Pete Carroll, Bevell is considered to have “West Coast” roots that will feature the run game and play action.

The defense is a base 4-3 and it’s coordinated officially by Paul Pasqualoni, but head coach Matt Patricia no doubt has a heavy hand in the game planning.

Kenny Golladay has emerged as Matthew Stafford's top weapon in the Detroit Lions offense.

Key numbers


Forced fumbles by the Lions' defense.


League rank in offense by the Lions' offense; also the number of turnovers the defense has forced.


League rank of the Detroit defense.


Carries by running back Kerryon Johnson, 63% of his 10-game total from a year ago.


Rating for Matthew Stafford, who is off to the best start of his career. His career-high rating is 97.2, set back in 2011.

Players to watch

Devon Kennard, LB

The 28-year-old, sixth-year veteran was a pickup last season for Patricia and his group and he continues to pay pass rush dividends. After a posting a career-high seven sacks last year, the 6-foot, 3-inch, 256-pound linebacker has three sacks in four games.

Kenny Golladay, WR

The third-year pro out of Northern Illinois has always been a big-play threat, but through four games he is proving that last year’s 70-catch, 1,000-yard season wasn’t a one-off. He already has 19 catches and four touchdowns (just one off last year’s career high).

Matt Prater, K

The 35-year-old has been kicking since 2007 and has made two Pro Bowls, but through four games he’s already missed two field goals from between 40-49 yards and one extra point. He has converted just 81% of his career kicks outdoors and 83.3% of his career kicks at night.

Reasons to worry

The Lions are feeling themselves a little bit as a legitimate NFC North contender, coming in with just one loss on the season. They likely feel like they should be 4-0 after they blew a 17-point lead in Week 1 to tie Arizona and had a 30-27 lead over Kansas City with 2 minutes, 31 seconds left before losing a game that also featured a controversial, 100-yard fumble return touchdown by the Chiefs' Bashaud Breeland.

Detroit also has won four straight over Green Bay.

It is just four games, but Stafford is playing well in Bevell’s system despite some physical issues. Eleven different receivers have caught passes. Second-year running back Johnson looks like the real deal and they’re not afraid to stick with the run game.

Defensively the Lions added edge rusher Trey Flowers from New England and he has one sack and three quarterback hits, and linebackers Devon Kennard and Christian Jones (five combined sacks) continue to play well. This group is also forcing turnovers.

Reasons to relax

The Lions may not be that good. They blew a 17-point lead in Week 1 to tie Arizona and had a late 30-27 lead over Kansas City before losing in a game where they turned over in the red zone twice. In their three-point win over the Los Angeles Chargers, they took advantage of the Chargers' punter missing two field goals. And the Eagles gave up a kick return touchdown in the Lions’ three-point win in Philadelphia. On the year, Detroit has turned it over six times and had a field goal blocked.

Though Detroit has beaten Green Bay in two straight seasons at Lambeau Field and three times out of the last four, it has not been a kind venue for the Lions in the long history of the rivalry (27-59-4). And, the Packers haven’t lost at home to the Lions with Aaron Rodgers playing a full game under center since 2015. In fact, Rodgers is 7-1 in games he has started and finished against the Lions at home.

Detroit also hasn’t figured itself out on defense yet. They are No. 27 overall, but No. 20 against the run and give up 4.8 yards per carry. They rank 30th against the pass and are No. 20 in points allowed.

Contact Jim Owczarski at Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat at @JimOwczarski or Facebook at

View Comments