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Packers' next opponent: Limping Lions still playing hard

Jim Owczarski
Packers News

The Green Bay Packers will head to Detroit on Sunday with a chance to clinch the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the playoffs. 

Basics on the Lions

Last week

Detroit lost its eighth straight game, falling 27-17 to Denver on the road. Rookie quarterback David Blough had given the Lions a 17-13 lead late in the third quarter with a 3-yard pass to Kenny Golladay, but the Broncos scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter.

Schemes

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.

Key numbers

0

Wins for the Lions since quarterback Matthew Stafford was lost for the year with a back injury.

8

League rank of the Lions’ passing offense.

16

Players on injured reserve.

18

Yards per catch for Kenny Golladay, one of the NFL's most dynamic receivers.

29

League rank of the Lions defense, which has steadily gotten worse.

Detroit Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay (19) is stopped short of a touchdown by Green Bay Packers cornerback Kevin King (20) during the first quarter of their game Monday, October 14, 2019 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.

Players to watch

Kenny Golladay, WR

The third-year pro out of Northern Illinois has always been a big-play threat and has posted back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons. With Marvin Jones and T.J. Hockenson on injured reserve, he is the No. 1 option in the pass game. He has five 100-yard receiving games.

Jamal Agnew, KR

A fifth-round pick out of San Diego in 2017, Agnew has been a dynamic player in the return game for the Lions. He returned a kickoff for a touchdown against Philadelphia in Week 3 and then returned a punt for a touchdown against Denver last week.

Trey Flowers, DE

The veteran no doubt has a bitter aftertaste from two questionable penalties he was given against he Packers at Lambeau Field that extended drives and ultimately helped the Packers win. Flowers can set a career high in sacks if he gets one Sunday.

Reasons to worry

If the Lions get off to a good start, they can build confidence and hang around – and undrafted rookie quarterback Blough has done enough in four games to prove he isn’t going to lay down for anyone. The Lions have seven one-score losses and generally have played hard. There is some scary talent that remains, notably Golladay on offense and pass rushers Flowers and Devon Kennard.

The Packers had a light practice week after the win at Minnesota on Monday night and the holiday Wednesday, so a concern might be focus and coming out sharp. That has happened twice this season on the road, so it’s worth watching.

Reasons to relax

Detroit’s season is over and its team is only playing for pride. The Lions are banged up and less talented across the board than they were when they held a two-score lead at Lambeau Field earlier in the season. The Packers should beat them. Blough is plucky, but he is an undrafted rookie. He’s completing just 56% of his throws, has been intercepted five times and sacked 13. The Lions' offense has not had a healthy or consistent ground game.

The Packers also have much to play for and there might be two points of motivation for a focused and hot start. One, the Lions have fallen behind 17-0 and 21-3 at halftime in recent losses to Minnesota and Tampa Bay. If the Packers can do that, the Lions may just pack it in. Two, that may allow Packers head coach Matt LaFleur to begin to pull key players off the field to protect them for the coming playoff run. A bye is at stake, but there’s a chance some players can get some extra time off later in the game.