Thu, 29 Oct 2020

5 things to watch: Lions at Packers

Detroit Lions
21 Sep 2020, 20:25 GMT+10

Tim Twentyman

The Detroit Lions hit the road for the first time this season over to Green Bay as they face their second straight division opponent to open the season. The Lions dropped their season opener to the Bears, 27-23, last week.

It's a big early-season matchup for the Lions, who certainly don't want to lose their second straight NFC North contest.

Here are five things to watch out for in this one later today:

OKUDAH DEBUT

Cornerback Jeff Okudah, the No. 3 overall pick in this year's NFL Draft, is slated to make his NFL debut for the Lions today after missing last week's game with a hamstring injury. Okudah was a full participant in practice this week and said Thursday he's excited for the challenge of making his debut against the Packers and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

The Lions might be relying on Okudah to play a significant role in his debut, too. Veteran Desmond Trufant missed practice all week because of a hamstring injury and was ruled out for today's contest, which means Okudah could be in line to start opposite Amani Oruwariye at one of the outside corner spots.

CAN DEFENSE BOUNCE BACK?

For three quarters last week the Lions' revamped defense held Chicago to just six points. They were controlling the game, but in the fourth quarter, things fell apart as the Bears racked up 17 unanswered points.

The defense certainly has their work cut out for them against Green Bay and their explosive offense. The Packers put up 43 points on the Vikings last week, while amassing 522 total yards and 364 passing yards. Green Bay rushed for 158 yards (Detroit allowed 149 rushing yards to the Bears), and Rodgers threw four touchdowns, including two to wide receiver Davante Adams, who had 14 receptions for 156 yards in the contest. That's a lot of production against a pretty good Vikings defense.

The Lions have to find a way to slow down Green Bay's talented trio of Rodgers, Adams and running back Aaron Jones, or it will be a long afternoon.

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PETERSON ENCORE

Running back Adrian Peterson rushed for 93 yards and racked up 114 total scrimmage yards in his Lions debut last week. His 93 yards were the most in NFL history by a player age 35 or older making his debut with a new team. It's also the most yards in a Lions debut by a player not drafted by the team.

The Lions rushed for 138 yards as a team with a 4.8 average per carry. They had a number of explosive runs and currently rank 10th in the NFL in rushing heading into the second week of the season.

Peterson led Detroit's backfield with 14 carries, double the amount of the next back (Kerryon Johnson). Detroit will continue to mix up the carries, but they'll also feed the hot hand, which last week was Peterson. Peterson needs 25 rushing yards in his 20th career meeting against the Packers today to total 2,000 yards for his career against the Packers. Something tells me he'll hit that mark.

SMITH BROTHERS

They're not really brothers, but Za'Darius and Preston Smith have taken on the title ever since signing with Green Bay last offseason. The two do interviews together and have formed quite the duo on the edges of the Packers' defensive front. Za'Darius had 13.5 sacks last season and Preston had 12.

It's unclear whether or not Detroit will have starting right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who missed last week's game with a foot injury and didn't practice this week. If he can't go, third-year tackle Tyrell Crosby will likely make a second straight start. Crosby did a pretty good job last week against Chicago's talented front.

GENERATING PRESSURE

This doesn't necessarily mean just in the sack column, either, especially when you consider Rodgers doesn't take a lot of sacks. Rodgers wasn't sacked at all last week against Minnesota and was knocked down just twice and hurried eight times.

Getting Rodgers off his spot and hurrying his clock has to be the goal for Detroit's front seven today. They have to find a way to make him uncomfortable and feel their presence so he doesn't settle into a rhythm, or he can easily do to Detroit what he did to the Vikings last week.

Detroit recorded one sack, six hurries and four knockdowns on Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky last week. Those six hurries rank 18th in the league. Detroit will have to be better this week against a much better opponent. Rodgers was 7-of-12 passing for 95 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions when Minnesota blitzed him last week.

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