Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers: 3 Keys to the Game

Surprisingly, the Lions’ worst loss this season was not the heartbreaking choke against the Vikings. It wasn’t the Dolphins, or the Patriots, or the Eagles. No, the Lions’ biggest loss was that of TJ Hockenson. The TE, traded to Minnesota, seems to have left at the worst moment. The Lions are facing the Packers at Ford Field this week, and there’s now a gaping hole on offense, especially given the injuries to the receiver group. There’s no worse time to be without a player who has distinct chemistry with Jared Goff. With all the Lions and Bears he’s beaten over the last few seasons, Aaron Rodgers has basically become a big-game hunter, and while he may be down this season, it’s hard to count him out. That’s why, in order to prepare for a miracle upset here, the Lions should follow Sackrider’s Three Keys to the Game:

1. Pound the ball.
You know how bad the Packers run defense is this season? They rank below the Lions. Enough said, right? While the availability of D’Andre Swift is still in question, this is Jamaal Williams’ moment to shine in a revenge game.

2. Stop the run.
Aaron Jones has been on a tear as of late. This makes sense, honestly. Since the Packers are lacking in receivers, Jones gets the ball early and often to keep the pressure off the rest of the offense. Therefore, the Lions have to be ready. Preparing the linebackers for quick handoffs and slot receptions by not just Jones, but also AJ Dillon, should help stuff the line of scrimmage and force deep throws to an unprepared group of wideouts. The Lions should hope for another massive day from Malcolm Rodriguez, as well as a decent showing from Alex Anzalone. Those two could really turn the tide for Detroit.

3. Clock management.
When so much of the outcome of this game depends on rushing offense, appropriate use of timeouts and the play-clock is vital. Yes, this seems like common sense, but as we all remember from Week 3 against Minnesota, it’s weirdly not for this Detroit staff.

In short, run the ball. Run it well. Stop the Packers from doing the same. A pretty reliable gameplan. This Lions team has been in so many close games this season and last that they may know everything not to do. For that reason alone, I’m going to add a special, one-time-only FOURTH key to the game:

4. Don’t play timid.
For a coaching staff that prides itself on grit and a pull-yourself-up attitude, this team deflates way too fast every week the second things start to slip out of hand. In addition, it feels like Dan Campbell is losing the 4th-down aggressiveness that made him such a refreshing hire last season. Don’t hand it off to Williams on 3rd and 9. Don’t play conservative in crucial situations. With the exception of New England, we’ve seen what this Lions offense should be. Now I want to see what it can be. Play like it’s always 4th and 1. Play to win.

My Prediction: It’s hard not to see Detroit vs Green Bay and immediately put all your money on the Packers, given how the rivalry has skewed in recent years. But this isn’t the old Packers, and these ain’t your mama’s Lions. Is my optimism futile? Probably. Is it fun nonetheless? Absolutely. Lions by the skin of their teeth. Lions win 21-17.
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