Packers Seek Vengeance Against Lions On MNF

Green Bay has lost three of their last four games against Detroit

KA Sports Photos, Flickr
  • The NFC North has been the NFL’s best division as the only one with all four teams above a .500 win percentage. 

  • The Green Bay Packers (4-1), host the Detroit Lions (2-1-1) on Monday Night Football

  • Green Bay is listed as a 3.5 point favorite. 

  • The Packers have beaten the Lions in 17 of their last 20 matchups in Green Bay, but Detroit has won three of the last four meetings. 

  • The Packers have lost at home against the Lions each of the last two seasons, but Aaron Rodgers did not play due to injury in either of those games. Rodgers will start Monday night as the Packers look for revenge and to retain their one-game lead in the NFL’s toughest division.

Lions Outlook

Very quietly, the Lions have put together an impressive few performances to start off the season. While Aaron Rodgers will get all the hype coming into Monday Night Football in Lambeau, Matthew Stafford has a higher passer rating (102.6 versus 93.4) and has more passing touchdowns (nine versus six). The Lions also rank eighth in total offense with 387.5 total yards per game while the Packers rank 24th with 337.2 total yards per game. The Lions rank ninth in passing yards and 13th in rushing yards per game. 

A key part of the Detroit offense has been its ability to keep Stafford protected while allowing him to utilize his rocket arm to throw down the field. Among all quarterbacks in the NFL this season, Stafford ranks second in Average Intended Air Yards at 11.1 behind only Ryan Fitzpatrick (11.6), but Stafford ranks first in average Completed Air Yards at 8.1. His average time to throw of 2.72 seconds ranks 18th in the league as the Lions have given up the fourth fewest sacks on offense of any team (seven sacks) thus far.

Thus, the Lions have given Stafford quality protection up front and he has gotten the ball out of his hands relatively quickly. He has been one of the more efficient passers this year in terms of pushing the ball down the field while maintaining a respectable nine to two touchdown to interception ratio. The impressive Lions offensive line faces a stiff test against the Green Bay front seven which ranks 13th with 15.0 sacks this season. The Lions offensive line must keep track of the Smiths (Preston and Za’Darius) as Green Bay’s outside linebackers lead their unit with 5.5 sacks (sixth in the NFL) and 5.0 sacks (tied for seventh) respectively. 

On defense, the Lions need to blitz more. The defense, led by head coach and former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, blitzes on just 11.8 percent of its plays, the lowest rate in the NFL. However, Detroit ranks first in net yards per pass play allowed when blitzing as they have allowed first downs on just 25% of plays they have blitzed (fourth-best in the league). However, trouble happens when the Lions do not blitz, as they have allowed 281 pass and 125 rush yards per game in that scenario through four weeks. With Aaron Jones putting up a career performance against Dallas last week, the Packers have shown that they can remain balanced on offense even without Davante Adams in the mix. The Lions rank T23rd with 4.8 yards per carry allowed, 29th with 280.8 passing yards per game allowed and 20th in scoring defense as they have allowed 23.8 points per game. Despite blitzing on so few plays, the Lions ranks 11th in overall defensive efficiency. 

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Packers Outlook

Aaron Rodgers has led the Packers to a 4-1 record behind a balanced attack. The Packers won with defense against the Bears and Vikings in weeks one and two, but Rodgers and the offense have scored at least 27 points in each of their last three games. After giving up 176 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the ground in their only loss against the Eagles, the Packers defense stepped up last week against the Cowboys and Zeke Elliot as he gained just 62 rushing yards while they picked off Dak Prescott three times. The aforementioned Smith duo at outside linebacker have wreaked havoc on opposing quarterbacks and look to continue where they left off last week against the Cowboys where they combined for three sacks. The Packers took a 31-3 lead at one point in the game, and they did this without their best receiver on offense, Davante Adams. Adams will miss his second-straight game on Monday due to a turf toe injury. 

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Prediction

BetQL’s NFL Model lists the Packers as the best spread and moneyline bet in this matchup. The Packers defense is better than the metrics indicate, as they have allowed teams to gain hollow yards at the end of multi-possession games this season (just like Dallas did last week). The Lions have not been great at putting pressure on the quarterback as they rank 27th in the league with just 9.0 sacks. If they want to get pressure on Rodgers --  and they need to -- they will need to utilize the blitz more often tonight at Lambeau than they have done of their previous few weeks. They had an impressive performance a few weeks ago against the Kansas City Chiefs in a 34-30 loss, but this has looked less and less impressive over the last few weeks as the Chiefs have lost consecutive games.

Aaron Rodgers will be more mobile than the hobbled Patrick Mahomes was, and blitzing him could prove to be costly if Rodgers can extend plays. He has done a great job of doing that so far this season as he has had the second most time to throw in the NFL (2.91 seconds) and been sacked just ten times (tied for the eighth fewest in the NFL). The Lions rank 27th in the league in third down defense as they have allowed opposing offenses to convert 45.6 percent of third down conversions. Take the Packers on the moneyline at home to beat the Lions tonight. 

So far, the majority of public bets have been wagered on the Packers (per BetQL’s NFL consensus picks dashboard). Who will you bet on in tonight's battle?