5 things to watch: Lions vs. Packers

It was a tough loss last week for the Lions as Brett Maher's 38-yard field goal traveled through the center of the uprights as time expired, giving Dallas a 26-24 victory that dropped Detroit's record to 1-3 on the season.

As is the case every week in the NFL, win or lose, the Lions had to flip the page to Green Bay rather quickly and their first NFC North matchup of the season against the Packers at Ford Field today.

The Packers enter the contest 2-1-1, and are hoping to keep pace with the 3-1 division leading Chicago Bears. The Lions are hoping to right the ship and enter their bye week on a positive note.

Here are five things to watch out for in today's division matchup:

HOW HEALTHY IS AARON RODGERS?

In a conference call with Detroit reporters this week, Rodgers admitted the sprained knee he suffered in the Packers' Week 1 win over Chicago is still bothering him.

"I'm not regressing but I'm not taking huge leaps week-to-week," Rodgers said. "It's just kind of small. When the adrenaline kicks in on game day I've felt a little better the last couple games."

Rodgers has looked better each week since injuring his knee. He was moving around pretty well last week in the 22-0 win over Buffalo. He even rushed for 31 yards.

Rodgers is coming off a rather uncharacteristic day throwing the football last week, however. He completed just 55 percent of his passes and threw only one touchdown and an interception (76.9 passer rating) in the win over Buffalo. He publicly stated his displeasure with the offense after that game. 

Last week was a rather poor passing game for Rodgers' high standards, and he typically doesn't stack too many of those on top of one another. Look for him to be sharp today.

INURIES A FACTOR

Injuries are playing a factor in today's contest. The Lions already know they'll be without two starters (Ziggy Ansah and T.J. Lang) and a key contributor in Michael Roberts. All three were ruled out Friday. The Packers won't have wide receiver Randall Cobb, who they listed as out on the Friday injury report. Both teams also have a number of players who are questionable.

For the Lions: DB Quandre Diggs, DL Da'Shawn Hand, LB Eli Harold, WR Marvin Jones Jr., CB Nevin Lawson, DB Tracy Walker, S Tavon Wilson

For the Packers: WR Davante Adams, CB Jaire Alexander, WR Geronimo Allison, CB Breshaud Breeland, S Kentrell Brice, G Justin McCray, G Lucas Patrick, S Jermaine Whitehead

We'll see who plays and who sits when the inactive list comes out 90 minutes before kickoff, but we're already seeing injuries play a factor in this one.

MUCH IMPROVED PACKERS' DEFENSE

Green Bay has spent a lot of time, cash and resources the last two offseasons into fixing some of their issues on defense. Early on this season they're starting to see the fruits of that labor.

They've continued to improve as the season has progressed, and currently rank in the top 10 of the NFL in both yards allowed per game (sixth) and yards allowed per play (eighth).

The Packers' pass defense has also been very solid, ranking in the top five in the league in passing yards per play (fifth), sacks per pass attempt (fifth) and total sacks (fourth).

Safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is tied for the NFL lead with three interceptions through Green Bay's first four games.

Defensive tackles Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark are playing really well together on the interior of the defensive line.

Detroit will have to be very sound offensively today if they hope to score enough points to out-duel Aaron Rodgers.

FIXING RED ZONE WOES

The Lions are last in the NFL at scoring touchdowns in the red zone. That's a big deal considering two of their three losses are by three points or less.

Detroit's had 12 red zone drives, and have scored a touchdown on only four of them. The red zone is tough, everything moves faster in less space, but the Lions have to find a way to better come away with six points instead of three in those critical situations deep in enemy territory. 

The NFL average for scoring touchdowns in the red zone is 57.8 percent, so the Lions are really struggling in that department.

The Packers rank 11th in the NFL in red zone defense at 50 percent.

ABOUT THAT RUSH DEFENSE

In all three of Detroit's losses this year they've allowed more than 150 rushing yards. In their one win, Week 3 vs. New England, they allowed less than 100. Coincidence? Not really.

The Lions have been pushed back on defense. Too many times when they've been in a position to make a stop in the run game they haven't been able to. Their run defense has been their biggest Achilles heel so far, and one of the big reasons they enter today's game 1-3. Some way, somehow, they have to get it corrected.

The Packers come to town with a versatile backfield. They're one of five teams to have three running backs with a least 70 rushing yards on the year. Green Bay ranks eighth in the NFL with a rushing average of 4.48 per attempt and are coming off a 141-yard team rushing effort vs. Buffalo last week.

Meet this weeks opponent, the Green Bay Packers.

Related Content

Advertising