The schedule commands that the Lions will have the nation’s attention on Monday night. What Matt Patricia’s team does with its opportunity to take over the NFC North lead in mid-October will likely dictate how seriously we all take Detroit going forward.
In some ways, the Lions are the relative we only see on Thanksgiving. We’re happy to give that Honolulu Blue and Silver a hug since it means there’s early football on and everyone is in a good mood, but as the day unfolds, we move on and lose interest. We’ll see where we’re at with all of that in a little over six weeks, but the fact is that the Lions rarely command holding us captive following their annual chance. They haven’t won a playoff game since 1991 and have a 25-year drought going in between division titles, but their start to this season has us stopping to take an early look.
After squandering a 24-6 fourth-quarter lead in winding up tied with the Cardinals, Detroit returned home and pulled off upsets over the Chargers and Eagles before suffering a 34-30 loss to the Chiefs as Patrick Mahomes executed a fourth-quarter comeback by getting his team into the end zone with six seconds left. That game was unique because it featured Mahomes failing to throw a single touchdown pass despite a productive day and also because they were able to hang around against an elite offense despite multiple top defensive players being sidelined.
The Lions have gotten healthier during their bye week and can now more easily see the bright side of standing toe-to-toe with a title contender, albeit one that has now dropped consecutive games after being upset by the Colts and Texans the past two Sundays. Had it not been for a 100-yard fumble recovery that Kansas City’s Bashaud Breeland returned for a third-quarter 14-point swing, we could be talking about undefeated Detroit right now in addition to being really worried about the Chiefs.
As they visit Lambeau Field looking to pull off another upset, it’s worth reminding you that the Lions have actually had the Packers’ number over the past few seasons and have won four of their last five visits to Green Bay. Patricia went 2-0 against the Pack in his first season and closed out 2018 with the franchise’s first shutout of the Packers since 1973 as Aaron Rodgers left the game with a concussion and ended up sidelined as Green Bay fans were forced to watch Detroit kicker Matt Prater finish with more touchdown passes than backup Deshone Kizer, who has since been traded to the Raiders.
Weird things can happen in rivalry games and this one is the NFL’s longest-running series, featuring at least two meetings per season since 1932. The favored team has actually won and covered in 12 of the last 14 matchups, with Detroit’s Week 17 shutout one of the two anomalies. Check out the recent history below for more details.
Rodgers is healthy again but has had some problems finding a great rhythm in the new offense installed by first-year head coach Matt LaFleur, who was named the full-time replacement to long-time leader Mike McCarthy. All of Detroit’s recent success has come against the maligned coach, who won six division titles and Super Bowl XLV but was blamed for Green Bay’s collapse. We’ll see how they fare against Rodgers and a new offense, but Patricia will also have to hope his own attack can continue to flourish against a defense that has been fantastic under coordinator Mike Pettine.
While Adams is out, the Packers will get backup RB Jamaal Williams from concussion protocol and also got good news with center Corey Lindsey upgraded to probable. Tackle Bryan Bulaga is also up. The Packers are unlikely to have safety Darnell Savage and CB Tony Brown available but have gotten excellent play in the secondary thus far.
The Lions are going to have top corner Darius Slay back from a hamstring injury and could see the debut of DT DeShawn Hand (elbow). DT Mike Daniels and CB Amani Oruwariye remain sidelined but the Lions are hopeful DT A’Shawn Robinson can return from a knee injury.
Detroit’s offense is likely to have top offseason acquisition Danny Amendola in there and is expecting that standout rookie tight end T.J. Hockenson can be cleared from concussion protocol in order to participate.