3 Key Matchups the Green Bay Packers must win vs. Detroit

Jan 9, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) passes the ball during the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 9, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) passes the ball during the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

At 3-5 and facing a 1-6 Detroit Lions team, Sunday’s game for the Green Bay Packers is a must-win–especially with the Lions’ issues on defense. If the Green Bay passing game can’t find success this week, then they may never will this season.

In order to come away with their first win in a month, the Packers have to win these three key matchups.

Aaron Jones vs. Lions front seven

Up against what is easily the worst defense in the NFL from a statistical standpoint, this has the makings of being a big Aaron Jones game–whether that be on the ground or as a pass catcher.

The Lions are allowing 5.1 yards per rush this season, which ranks 27th in the NFL and rank last or close to it in many key passing categories, including yards per attempt, completion percentage, and total passing yards allowed.

Of course, from the Lions’ perspective, slowing Jones on the ground will be important. We’ve seen Green Bay abandon the run game early on in games this season — although, hopefully, after last week’s game against Buffalo, that’s a trend we won’t see moving forward —  and when one-dimensional, this passing game isn’t strong enough to lean on it heavily in those instances.

Green Bay Packers rookie receivers vs. Lions cornerbacks

As already mentioned, the Lions’ secondary has been bad this season. In addition to the stats listed above, three Detroit cornerbacks rank in the top 12 in snaps per reception allowed, according to PFF ($$), which isn’t good.

As we all know, the Packers’ passing game has been incredibly underwhelming this season, but Romeo Doubs and Samori Toure are coming off some very good performances against the Bills, where the duo totaled 99 yards and two touchdowns. However, perhaps just as important is that there were several completions where there was trust from Aaron Rodgers, and in Toure’s case, a nice route adjustment, something Rodgers has been longing for.

Christian Watson was also expected to play a key role in that game before leaving with an injury. He is currently questionable for Sunday’s game, and one would think if available, he will be a factor. At 3-5, Rodgers and Matt LaFleur need to begin giving these rookies more regular opportunities. Yes, there will still be ups and downs, but all three bring that missing big play element.

While having an effective run game will be important, as we saw against the Bills, the Packers need to find success through the air as well if they hope to put up significant points, which they may have to do verse Detroit’s offense.

If you believe in get-right games, this matchup against this Lions’ secondary is exactly that for the Packers’ passing game, specifically their young wide receivers.

Jamaal Williams vs. Packers run defense

A very bad Green Bay Packers run defense, which is allowing 4.9 yards per carry and ranks 31st in rush DVOA, will be facing a very good Lions run game behind a stout offensive line.

D’Andre Swift is listed as questionable, but even if he can’t go, Jamaal Williams is more than capable of running through this Green Bay Packers’ run defense. Williams has averaged an impressive 5.3 yards per carry the last two games and has 10 total rushes of 10-plus yards this season.

Despite the Packers’ issues on offense, controlling the time of possession will be important for the Lions, perhaps more so because of their defense’s inability to get a stop. Between Detroit’s effectiveness on the ground coupled with their willingness to push the ball downfield, they will put this Packers’ defense in a predicament.

Typically Joe Barry prioritizes taking away the big passing play, but that means playing with lighter boxes, which is advantageous for the offense’s run game. Which does Barry try to limit? My fear is that, as he always does, he will be more concerned about the big passing play, which will open up the ground game for an already good rushing offense.

Although the Lions have struggled on defense and are 1-6 overall, they know how to put up points on offense.