As we head towards training camp and the preseason, we are going to take a look at each of the Detroit Lions opponents for the 2016 season. Today, we continue with the Lions’ Week 3 and 17 opponent: The Green Bay Packers.
The Green Bay Packers were responsible for the two most entertaining Detroit Lions games in 2015. In the first matchup, the Lions held on in dramatic fashion to end their decade-spanning drought at Lambeau Field. Then in Detroit, the two teams played, it was a close game, and then something happened, I think. I don’t remember.
Though 2015 was considered a down season for the Packers, they still managed to make the playoffs and advance to the divisional round. But a breathtaking overtime loss to the Arizona Cardinals ended their campaign for a ring.
Last year was defined by a few key injuries surrounding the Packers offense. First, Jordy Nelson was lost due to a torn ACL in the preseason. Soon after, Davante Adams suffered an ankle injury that lingered all year. Ty Montgomery and TE Andrew Quarless also eventually had their seasons come to an early end due to injuries. And that doesn’t even touch the Packers’ offensive line carousel they endured all year.
Green Bay hopes for better luck in 2016, but can all of their problems last year really be attributed to their laundry list of injuries? With some help from Acme Packing Company, let’s look at their 2016 team:
2015 record: 10-6
Matchup with Lions: Week 3 in Green Bay; Week 17 in Detroit
Line: Week 3: Packers by 8.5; Week 17 line not available
Last meeting: NIGHTMARES
Notable free-agent additions:
- TE Jared Cook
- OLB Lerentee McCray
Notable free-agent departures:
- CB Casey Hayward (Chargers)
- DT B.J. Raji (retirement)
- WR James Jones (FA)
- QB Scott Tolzien (Colts)
- FB John Kuhn (ascended to heaven)
- Packers send Nos. 57, 125 and 248 picks in 2016 draft to Colts for No. 48 pick (OT Jason Spriggs)
Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies:
- DT Kenny Clark: With Raji retiring, Mike Pennel suspended for the first quarter of the season and Datone Jones moving to outside linebacker, the team expects Clark to play a lot early on, likely as the starting nose tackle or five-tech.
- ILB Blake Martinez: With Clay Matthews moving back to outside linebacker, veteran Sam Barrington and rookie Blake Martinez will battle for the starting inside spot next to second-year man Jake Ryan. Head coach Mike McCarthy already praised Martinez for his minicamp work, particularly his coverage ability. With Barrington still recovering from last year's foot injury, Martinez holds the early lead. Even if he doesn't win the job, Martinez should play extensively in the nickel, dime and sub packages.
Biggest offseason addition:
- DT Kenny Clark: While Jared Cook garnered plenty of attention given the Packers' offensive struggles last season, Clark should end up playing a more significant role in 2016 and in future years. If not immediately, Clark should at some point become the team's new starter at nose tackle, a critical position in Dom Capers' defense.
Biggest storyline heading into training camp:
- Eddie Lacy's weight loss: After playing most of the 2015 campaign visibly out of shape, Lacy has worked this offseason to remodel his body. Though hardly svelte, the running back looks closer to his 2013-14 figure. If his production can also return to form, the Packers offense should avoid the inconsistencies it dealt with most of last season.
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp:
- Defensive line depth: Mike Daniels and Letroy Guion have carved out niches along the defensive front, but the other starting spot as well as the depth behind them remains unsettled. Mike Pennel could become the starter at the five-tech once he returns from suspension, but until then the Packers have to decide between fourth-round rookie Dean Lowry, Datone Jones (who has mainly moved to an outside linebacker role) and a mostly faceless group of undrafted rookies and second-year players.
Notable injuries heading into training camp:
Jared Cook's foot surgery: Just added this offseason as a street free agent, Jared Cook has already undergone surgery on his foot. Though he has expressed confidence that the situation should resolve itself by training camp, the offense could endure some hardships if his injury lingers. The Packers don't have another tight end with both his experience and athleticism on the roster, and they need as many big bodies capable of exploiting the middle of the field as possible.
- Jordy Nelson’s knee: The Packers expects Nelson to return by the start of training camp, but after missing all of 2015 the team has taken a very cautious approach (you likely won't see him in the Hall of Fame game in August).