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Five things to watch: Lions at Packers

The Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers square off in an NFC North showdown on national television tonight in the first of two meetings this season.

The Lions have lost three straight coming in. The Packers are coming off their bye week after dropping their previous two contests leading into the bye. Both teams could use a win.

Here are five things to watch out for tonight:



In a conference call this week, Packers veteran receiver Jordy Nelson said the Green Bay offense hasn't changed much with third-year quarterback Brett Hundley under center for the injured Aaron Rodgers (collarbone). The Packers obviously want to keep some of their base concepts intact, but they also have to cater to some of the things Hundley does well.

Since taking over for Rodgers, Hundley has completed 31 of 59 passes (52.5 percent) for 244 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions for a passer rating of 40.5.

One thing Detroit's defense has to watch for playing Hundley is his ability to make plays with his legs. He rushed three times for 44 yards in a loss to New Orleans before the bye. Talking to Lions defenders this week, they are very aware of that capability from Hundley.


The Packers have been very good coming off the bye in head coach Mike McCarthy's tenure. Overall, the Packers are 9-2 (.818) under McCarthy in games played the week after the bye.

The previous four times the Packers have lost a game heading into the bye under McCarthy, they have won the game immediately after the bye. Against the NFC North, the Packers have won each of their last six games against division opponents coming off their bye.

Just how the Lions used Jamal Agnew on offense as a wrinkle vs. Pittsburgh coming off the bye, the Lions can expect a wrinkle or two from McCarthy, one of the best offensive minds in football.


The Lions racked up 482 yards of offense and over 400 passing against Pittsburgh's top 5 defense last week, but when the ball got inside the 20's, the Lions couldn't find a way to punch it into the end zone. All the Lions got in the scoring department was five Matt Prater field goals. The Lions were 0-for-5 in the red zone.

On the road vs. the Packers in Lambeau, the Lions can't repeat that kind of woeful performance in the red zone and expect to escape with a win. Detroit is currently ranked 25th with a red zone efficiency of 45 percent.

The issues for the Lions in the red zone last week were all encompassing. Receivers dropped passes, running backs missed holes, Matthew Stafford missed some throws he normally makes, and the line had both protection and run-block issues at times.

Execution was the word of the week from Lions coaches and players when asked about their red zone issues last week. Will they better execute in the red zone tonight?

On the flip side, the Packers' offense leads the NFL with a red zone efficiency percentage of 73.9.


The Rodgers injury and the subsequent two losses for the Packers has the Lions as a favorite to win tonight for only the third time on the road in Green Bay in the last 26 years.

To make Las Vegas right once again, the Lions' defense will have to continue to be opportunistic in turning opponents over. The Lions have 16 takeaways in seven games, which puts them among the league leaders.

Offensively, the Lions have yet to put together a complete game. Right guard T.J. Lang, who's making his first return to Lambeau Field in another uniform, said this week that tonight would be a good time for that.

"We're definitely looking to play a complete game for the first time this year," Lang said Thursday. "I think (Monday) is a good time for it."


The Lions' streak of games without a 100-yard rusher is up to 58. That's a pretty staggering number. Packers fifth-round rookie Aaron Jones has two 100-yard performances in his last three games.

When asked about the streak this week, Lions running back Ameer Abdullah said sometimes all a player needs is one big performance for himself to gain confidence and the coaches and teammates to follow suit. Abdullah seems very motivated this week to help push Detroit's run game into respectability. The Lions have rushed for 100 yards as a team just once this season.

On the road in what could be rainy conditions on a notoriously slick Lambeau Field surface isn't ideal to break that streak, but the Packers are allowing 125.1 yards on the ground on average, and have allowed nine runs of at least 20-plus yards, the most in the NFL.

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