This Sunday, the Green Bay Packers will travel to Ford Field and take on the Detroit Lions. The Packers are currently 2-1-1 and are in second place in the NFC North while their opponent in this Week 5 contest, the Detroit Lions, are in last place with a 1-3 record. With the exception of that Sunday night upset victory against the New England Patriots, the Lions have looked like one of the worst teams in the league. Detroit will need to pull off another upset this Sunday if it has any hopes of salvaging its season.
There are three matchups which will determine the outcome of this contest:
1. Green Bay’s Running Backs vs. Detroit’s Defense
After struggling to run the ball for the first three games of the season, the Packers might have found their solution in Aaron Jones after his performance last week. In just 11 carries against the Buffalo Bills, Jones had 65 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. Jones was the most efficient running back by far and should receive more touches against the Lions this week.
Ty Montgomery entered the season as the favorite to win the starting running back position but has continued to struggle over the first four games of the season. Montgomery only has 72 rushing yards this season and did virtually nothing with five carries last week. Montgomery has still excelled in the passing game out of the backfield and had 56 receiving yards last week against Buffalo. Look for Montgomery to keep his third down role moving forward but do not expect to see him getting more than five carries against the Lions.
Jamaal Williams once again struggled last week as he will mostly likely be demoted to the backup running back position. In four games this season, Williams is averaging a pedestrian 3.4 yards per carry with no rushing touchdowns. Unfortunately for Green Bay, he looked like the worst running back on the team last week as he had 11 carries for a total of 27 yards. Williams just simply is not getting it done on the ground and I expect Green Bay to give the majority of his touches to Jones in future weeks.
These running backs will face the pitiful Detroit rush defense, who will look to respond to a miserable performance against Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys last week. Elliott had 25 carries for 152 rushing yards as he carried the Cowboys to a 26-24 victory. The Lions are currently allowing 157.8 rushing yards per game, which ranks last in the NFL. Although Green Bay has lacked consistency on the ground this season, Aaron Jones should be able to find some running room on Sunday.
2. Aaron Rodgers vs. Detroit’s Secondary
When it comes to elite quarterbacks, Aaron Rodgers is always at the top of the list. His combination of intellect and talent makes him one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. Rodgers has looked good so far this season and he has thrown seven touchdowns with only one interception. However, Rodgers only has a QBR rating of 49.2, which would be his lowest in his career as a full-time starter. Look for Rodgers to raise his level of play even more against a divisional rival.
In his career, Aaron Rodgers has absolutely owned the Detroit Lions. In 16 career meetings, Rodgers is 13-3 and has even won his last three meetings against them. Statistically speaking, the Lions have had no answers when it comes to stopping No. 12. In those 16 games, Rodgers has thrown 34 touchdowns with only six interceptions. Although Green Bay’s receiving corps is nowhere where it used to be in recent seasons, one would have to expect Rodgers to torch the Lions once more on Sunday.
3. Matthew Stafford vs. Green Bay’s Defense
Although Stafford has never won a playoff game in his nine NFL seasons, he is still a very solid quarterback who can lead his team to unlikely victories. In 129 career games, Stafford has thrown 224 touchdown passes and over 35,000 passing yards. However, in those same 129 games, he has thrown 123 interceptions. Averaging about an interception a game is a serious problem and might explain why Stafford has a career record of 61-68. This turnover trend has continued in his matchups against Green Bay throughout his career.
In 15 career games against the Packers, Stafford is 5-10 and has thrown 30 touchdowns along with 19 interceptions. However, it is important to note that Stafford absolutely torched Green Bay’s secondary last season as he threw for a combined five touchdowns and zero interceptions in the two meetings last season. If Stafford can prevent the turnover bug from plaguing him once more in this contest, expect the Lions to put up points in bunches as the team attempts to save its season.
Prediction: Packers 31, Lions 27
As for my prediction, I have to side with the Packers. Detroit’s defense is simply below average and should have no answers when it comes to stopping Green Bay’s offense. I expect Rodgers to play extremely well as he looks to bump his career record against Detroit to 14-3. However, I do think that Stafford will carve up this Packers defense, which has already struggled with the likes of Kirk Cousins and Alex Smith this season. I expect a lot of points in this game but think that Rodgers will do just enough in the fourth quarter for the Packers to hold on.