The Green Bay Packers look to get back on track when they host the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field on Monday Night. It will be the home opener for the Packers and the first division matchup of 2021.
The Packers were embarrassed in a 38-3 loss to the Saints in Week 1 while the Lions fell behind big early and lost to the 49ers 41-33. Both teams are 0-1 and the winner is guaranteed at least a share of first place in the NFC North.
The series between these two teams dates all the way back to 1930 and the Packers hold a 102-72-7 advantage in the regular season and won both playoff meetings between the clubs. The Packers have a four-game winning streak in this series although recently, the games have been close.
Here is a look at six key factors that will determine who wins Monday night’s home opener at Lambeau Field:
The Packers were just not ready to play in Week 1 against the Saints. It looked like they believed they could win by just showing up as they were the better team. While Green Bay is a more talented team than Detroit, last Sunday’s poor performance should serve notice to the Pack that they need to do a lot more than just show up to win in the NFL.
The Packers must be emotionally ready to play and they need to have a smarter game plan and be willing to make adjustments if that plan isn’t working.
The Packers must learn from last week’s blowout loss and hopefully they will take out their frustrations on the Lions.
The Packers abandoned the running game too quickly against the Saints. It’s a problem that has arisen in many of their one-sided losses under LaFleur. The Packers only ran the ball 15 times last week and seven of them came after Aaron Rodgers was removed from the game and outcome was no longer in doubt.
The duo of Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon gives the Packers a strong one-two punch at running back and each of the two have different and complimentary skill sets.
San Francisco gained 131 yards on the ground against Detroit and the Packers should be able to find similar success. Jones had an outstanding game against the Lions in Week 2 last season, gaining 236 total yards and scoring three touchdowns.
If the Packers can mix runs and passes, their play-action passing game will fall into place as well.
The Lions allowed three sacks in their season-opening loss to San Francisco while the Packers recorded no sacks against the Saints.
Rashan Gary supplied the most pressure for the Packers. Green Bay is hoping Za’Darius Smith’s back is feeling better and that he can play more snaps than he did in Week 1.
Lions starting left tackle Taylor Decker was placed on injured reserve this week so the Packers should look to take advantage of the revamped Lions offensive line. If they can get pressure on Goff, they can slow down the Detroit passing game.
Against New Orleans, the Packers didn’t force any turnovers and committed three of their own. It’s not easy to win games when you’re a minus-three in turnover differential.
Rodgers is usually one of the best in the game at protecting the football and he needs to be again on Monday night.
If the defense can get more pressure on the quarterback, it should result in more turnover opportunities for the secondary. That will put Green Bay in a much better position to win the football game.
Rodgers played one of his worst games as a starter last week. His quarterback rating of 36.8 was his worst since Week 15 of 2014 (except for games he left early due to injury).
Rodgers held the ball too long, didn’t take the sure passes that were available to him underneath and lacked consistency and accuracy throughout the game.
The Packers need Rodgers to return to his usual standard of play, to take what the defense gives him and to get back to pre-snap motion, enough running plays to keep the defense off-balance and just play smart football.
After all the drama surrounding Rodgers during the offseason, Rodgers needs to prove he is ready to play and that his actions were not a distraction to his ability to prepare for the season.
The Lions are thin at wide receiver, but they do have a strong target in tight end T. J. Hockenson. The former Iowa star caught eight passes in the season opener for 97 yards and a touchdown. Last year, Hockenson made the Pro Bowl after catching 67 passes for 723 yards and six scores.
The Packers will likely use either linebacker De’Vondre Campbell or one of the team’s two safeties to cover Hockenson. At 6’5” and 247-pounds, Hockenson can be a matchup problem as he is too quick for linebackers to cover well and too big for safeties to stop consistently.
If the Packers can keep Hockenson in check, the other Detroit receivers can have issues trying to get open.
The Lions may be very unlucky if the Packers take out their frustrations over their embarrassing Week 1 performance on Monday night. Green Bay should be able to move the ball at will on the Detroit defense and finally get the offense on track.
The team returning to a sold out Lambeau Field and appearing on national television will just give the Packers added incentive. Detroit will score points but it won’t be enough.
Packers 38, Lions 20