I think the Detroit Lions are one of the more underrated teams in the NFL. Most wrote their obituary when Calvin Johnson retired this past off-season.
But this club has a lot going for it.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford, who has always had the talent, is emerging as a franchise quarterback. They don’t have Calvin, but they have a nice mix of receiving talent. With Ameer Abdullah (out this week due to a foot injury) and Theo Riddick, they have a nice running game combo.
But their offensive line is still questionable, even after they invested three first round and two third round draft picks in this unit. This is where the Packers' front has to dominate as they did in Minnesota against a poor Vikings offensive line.
I really like the way the Green Bay defense is playing against the run. If you can’t stop the run, you can’t be a top tier defense.
Now the challenge is to limit the big plays in the passing game that have hurt them in this early season. Green Bay has given up eight passing plays of twenty-plus yards, five of those plays have gone for thirty-plus and two were forty-plus yard plays.
The Lions are better than most prognosticators believed but in this spot, Green Bay’s home opener, in a stadium where Detroit has won once in the last quarter century, I don’t see the Lions upsetting the Packers this Sunday.
This is the 174th meeting in the 87-year history of the Lions-Packers series with Green Bay holding a 96-68-7 regular season advantage; the Packers have won both post-season contests.
The Lions finally broke through on Wisconsin soil with a huge upset of the Packers (a 10 + point favorite) last year in Lambeau 18-16. The Packers won the rematch in Detroit a month later on the now famous “Hail Mary” 61 yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Richard Rodgers on an untimed play to win 27-23.
This is not as intense a rivalry as the Vikings (border war) or as long a series as the Bears-Packers (first results of that series were found on the Dead Sea Scrolls), but under any other circumstances this would qualify as a traditional rivalry. There is no doubt this latest chapter will be a hard fought affair.