Cleat Geeks

Thursday Night Preview: Green Bay Packers vs Detroit Lions

 

The Packers and Lions are back to work again for the second Thursday in a row. This season has been a crazy one for everybody, and these two teams are no exception. The season has been completely opposite for both teams. Green Bay started the season 6-0, but have gone 1-4 in their last five. Detroit started out 1-5, and they have gone 3-2 in their last five games. The NFC North rivals have played 172 games, and the Packers currently lead the all-time series 97-68-7. Their last meeting came three weeks ago when the Lions pulled off the upset 18-16 at Lambeau Field after kicker Mason Crosby missed the potential game-winning field goal.

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After being one of the hottest teams before their bye-week, the Packers have quickly come undone since. Actually, the defense has played surprisingly well, it has been the offense that is an issue for them lately. I recently explained why the Packers are struggling in this week’s edition of “Pick Six.” I’ll try to keep it short so I don’t completely repeat myself.

The receivers have not been able to beat their one-on-one coverage, which leads to defenses blitzing more often and stacking the box, which then magnifies the offensive line’s struggles, and all of this hurts both the running game and Aaron Rodgers. Even though there is a lot of worrying that is circulating through to whole state of Wisconsin right now, I think there are some reasons to R-E-L-A-X. For starters, the Packers defense is actually playing well! Dom Capers’ defense usually flip-flops seasons for when they are good and when they are bad. Well, they are good right now. Another reason is the newly-motivated Eddie Lacy, who has ran well lately. There is also some good news for this game specifically: Aaron Rodgers generally plays well in domes. He has not played in a dome yet this season, and he will get to do so twice in the final five games of the season, including this game. Along with the two dome games, he gets to play two more home games. The one other game that isn’t in a dome or at home is against the Raiders, who are not very good against the pass. Rodgers has struggled lately, but there should be better days ahead for him and the rest of the offense.

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The Lions have played better offensively and defensively in their past three games, and they have a 3-0 record in that span to show for it. On the season, the Lions have given up 26.2 points per game. The defense has stepped it up lately by giving up only 14.3 points during their three game winning streak. Just to make a statement, Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson led the offense to 45 points against the Eagles on Thanksgiving. Stafford played his best game of the season by throwing five touchdowns, three of them to Calvin Johnson, and he threw no interceptions for the second week in a row. The running game has even started to pick up. They have ran for over 100 yards in each of the past two games. Ameer Abdullah has started to emerge as their best rusher, but still has averaged only 53.5 rushing yards in the previous two.

 

Fantasy:

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Detroit Lions

Obviously there are some great fantasy options on the Packers, it just depends on which Packers offense shows up. After having their player-only meeting this week, I think they will get back on track. I do think they will play well, but they will be missing a couple of offensive lineman. This will definitely hurt their offense. I believe Rodgers will get back on track this game though. I expect him to pass for 300+ yards and I’d guess three touchdowns. In their last meeting, he targeted Davante Adams 21 times. While I don’t think he will get that many targets, I think he will have a good match-up that he should be able to exploit. When James Jones has played well, so has the rest of the team. I think Rodgers will be making an effort to find Jones, especially in the red zone. While Cobb has had a disappointing year, I think he can have a strong finish. I think he could easily have his best game of the season. Each of the three receivers will have 5-10 catches, and all of them obviously have great chances to score. With the passing game working, that usually opens things up for the run. Like I said before, the Packers will probably be missing a couple starting lineman, and that will affect the running game. I don’t think Lacy will reach 100 rushing yards for his third straight game, but I do think he has the chance to reach 60-80 total yards with a touchdown. As Lacy’s workload goes up, Starks’ goes down. He is nothing more than a flex play in a PPR if you’re desperate. They’ll run a couple screens with him, but you can’t predict what kind of workload he will get.

Detroit’s offense has been playing much better, but will they keep it up? I don’t think they will be great like last week, but they also won’t be how they were to start the season. Stafford should get about 250-265 passing yards with a couple touchdowns and an interception. Randall might be out for the Packers, so that should help the Lions’ passing attack. Obviously Stafford’s favorite target is Calvin Johnson, and I think he will have his first 100-yard game since week six. With Lance Moore out, Tate, Ebron, and Riddick should all see a small boost. Tate is good for about 50-60 yards. Ebron is inconsistent, but he should see about five targets. Riddick has been a great receiving option out of the backfield for the Lions lately. I think he’ll catch around five passes for 50 yards to go along with as few carries. Abdullah is the only other running back I’d think of playing. He has been playing better lately, but I only see he getting 50-60 total yards, not including return yards.

 

Prediction:

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The Packers are struggling and Lions are hot…what is going on this year? I don’t have any great stats, I just don’t think the Packers will lose to the Lions twice in a season. Green Bay will beat Detroit 31-20.

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