The NFC has seen a massive shakeup over the past few weeks. The and are stumbling. The look bad. The and appear ascendant. The have weathered absence. The have done the same without .
Amid all this upheaval, thth defeat at Liverpool, the newcomers took their first three points with victory over Newcastle before losing at home to Chelsea.Farke feels his side pushed Chelsea all the way in last weekend’s 3-2 defeat, but admits they must turn positive performae NFC North looks like it might be the best division in the league. All four of the division’s teams are above .500, and all four have outscored their opponents this season. In first place are the at 4-1, and their only loss was a one-possession game against the Eagles on a Thursday night. The are in second at 4-2 after back to back wins against NFC East squads, but right behind them are the , who have the single most impressive win of any team in the division. Detroit looked awful blowing a lead to the in Week 1, but their most recent game was a near-upset of the in which they seemed to provide a blueprint for slowing down the ‘s most explosive offense.
Can they do the same to but actually come away with a win this time around? Let’s break things down.
Lions at Packers Monday, Oct. 13 8:15 p.m. ET ESPN (via SportsLine)
Who wins Lions vs. Packers? And what crucial factor makes one side of the spread a must-back? to see which side of the spread you should jump on Monday, all from the top NFL expert who’s 28-4 on Green Bay picks.
When the Packers have the ball
If last week’s dominant performance against the Dallas Cowboys doesn’t finally convince his coaches to make the full-time featured back, then it’s probable that nothing ever will. Jones, who had previously been splitting work with , was simply electric against Dallas: 19 carries for 107 yards and four touchdowns, plus seven catches for another 75 yards. And he was still, for some reason, only on the field for 67 percent of the team’s snaps, as Green Bay insisted on using to split the work. Williams has been practicing in full this week after sitting out against Dallas due to the scary concussion he suffered the prior week, and it seems likely that he will continue to share the touches with Jones. That’s a shame.
Will Brinson is joined by Jared Dubin to preview tonight’s Lions-Packers game, then Jason La Canfora stops by to break down the biggest story lines from NFL Week 6.
The Lions defense has been solid, if unspectacular against the run this season, ranking 14th in rush defense efficiency, per Football Outsiders’ DVOA. has been pretty much exactly the same player in Detroit as he was in New England (Flowers has only one sack, but he’s got 14 pressures, three QB hits, 15 total tackles, and nine run stops, per Pro Football Focus), and his two-way effectiveness has helped Matt Patricia build the unit he was hired to build.
Specifically, Detroit’s ability to get pressure up front without having to resort to the blitz has made this one of the most consistent pass defenses in the league so far — and for the second consecutive year, one that appears to have set the blueprint for slowing down one of the bests form.Referring to Everton’s defeat to Brighton, Cascarino wrote for The Times: “Yet another entry in the catalogue of Jordan Pickford errors shows why the Everton keeper’s days as England’s number 1 are numbered… beaten easily by a set piece, (wh offenses in the NFL. (The Rams last year and the Chiefs this year.) Detroit’s willingness to adjust its scheme based on the opponent is notable, but the reason they’re able to do that is because of the play of an underrated secondary.
is a star. Slot corner looks like one of the best signings of the offseason. appears to have recaptured his 2016 form. Safeties and are balling out. When Slay missed a game due to injury, stepped in and played well.
While it would have been fascinating to watch Slay and lock horns once again, as they have done so often over the years, Adams is out for this game with turf toe. It’s sounding more and more like he’s going to be out for a while, and that means it’ll fall to Marques Valdez-Scantling, , and to work as Rodgers’ top three options on the perimeter. Nn Henderson says they’re European champions thanks to manager Jurgen Klopp.The Reds beat Tottenham 2-0 in Madrid thanks to an early Mohamed Salah penalty and a late Divock Origi strike.Henderson paid tribute to Klopp. “Without this manager this is imone of them is even close to Adams’ caliber, but Valdes-Scantling and Allison have at least shown they have Rodgers’ trust and have the ability to make some plays down the field.
It seems wildly unlikely that a team will come into a game with a “stop Aaron Jones and make Aaron Rodgers beat us” strategy, but the Lions should consider this a warning that if they do, Rodgers will beat them. Rodgers has not necessarily been his usual self this season, but he’s rounding into form over the past few weeks and there are few things more dangerous in the NFL than daring Aaron Rodgers to make plays.
When the Lions have the ball
Remember when was the No. 1 overall pick out of Georgia and all anybody could talk about was his ridiculous arm strength? From the way the Lions have used him throughout his career, you could be forgiven if you’d forgotten about that.
Through the first decade of Stafford’s career, deep passes (at least 20 yards downfield) never accounted for more than 12.4 percent of his total attempts, per Pro Football Focus. During that time, he never ranked higher than 13th in the NFL in terms of the percentage of his passes that were thrown deep downfield. This year, at long last, that has changed.
TWENTY TWO PERCENT OF MATTHEW STAFFORD’S THROWS HAVE TRAVELED AT LEAST TWENTY YARDS IN THE AIR. This is a major development, folks. And it’s a big reason why has been able to get off to such a good start. He somehow is the only receiver in the league not to go off against the Eagles this season (2 catches for 17 yards on 8 targets), but in the other three games, Golladay has gone 4-42-1, 8-117-1, and 5-67-2.
The Golladay-focused passing game has been complemented by the Lions doing what the Packers refuse to and turning into their full-time feature back. With C.J. Anderson on the roster for the first two games, Johnson played 56 percent of the team’s offensive snaps. Since Anderson’s been cut, Johnson has been on the field for 73 percent of the snaps. Johnson did not do all that much with the increased opportunities in Week 3, but he ran all over the Chiefs (26 carries for 125 yards) in Week 4. Considering how poorly the Packers have defended the run this season, it would not be surprising if the Lions attempted to run it down Green Bay’s throats early and often in this game.
The Packers rank 28th in Football Outsiders’ rush defense DVOA, and dead last in Adjusted Line Yards allowed per carry. To put in perspective their Adjusted Line Yards (ALY) mark, consider that last year the Rams’ offense set the Football Outsiders record for ALY. Of any offense since 1989, the Rams’ 5.49 ALY per carry mark was the single best. The 2019 Packers are allowing 5.44 ALY per carry. It is extremely easy to run the ball against them — especially to the left side of the offensive line.
Unfortunately for Green Bay’s opponents, running the ball is not how you win in the modern NFL. You win by throwing the ball. And the Packers’ pass rush has been ridiculously good, and their secondary has been nearly as good as the pass rush. had a tough go of things against last week, but prior to that had looked like one of the best corners in the NFL. is off to the best start of his career. Slot corner is beatable, but maybe not by . is expected to miss this game, which means will again see increased snaps alongside . The Lions appear to be getting T.J. Hockenson back for this game, which will help them test this defense up the seam. If they can do that, perhaps Golladay and Jr. will have an easier time working against Alexander and King on the outside.