We’ve all decided that Monday night’s game against the Green Bay Packers is essentially a must-win game for the Detroit Lions. Sunday’s poll indicated that 96 percent of Lions fans believe this is a do-or-die game for Detroit.
But those kind of stakes aren’t enough for the Lions to outright win this game, even if the Packers don’t have their All-Pro quarterback. No, the Lions are going to have to do some damage on their own.
However, this Packers teams isn’t like many teams the Lions have faced so far. They don’t have a smothering defense. They aren’t a team that forces a lot of turnovers. They don’t have a dynamic offense capable of putting 40 points on a team. But they have a bunch of veteran players, a capable running game and an experienced coach.
So today’s Question of the Day is:
What is the biggest key to a Detroit Lions victory on “Monday Night Football?”
My answer: Stopping the run. As I pointed out in my On Paper preview, the Packers run offense and the Lions run defense are each team’s biggest strength. And considering Green Bay will be starting Brett Hundley, who has only started one other NFL game in his career, you can pretty much guarantee the Packers will try to establish the running game on Monday.
Especially when you consider that rookie Aaron Jones has looked downright dominant in his past three games. Jones has 297 rushing yards at 6.1 a carry in the past three contests combined and has even found the end zone twice.
Luckily for Detroit, stopping the run has been their defensive specialty in five of seven games. The Lions currently rank fifth in run defensive DVOA and t-fourth in yards per carry allowed.
But Detroit will also have to keep an eye on Hundley himself, as he’s a quick and mobile passer in the pocket. If Detroit doesn’t keep a spy on him, Hundley is more than capable of making a defense pay with his legs. In his first and only start, Hundley had 44 yards rushing along with a touchdown on the ground.
If Detroit can bottle him up, as well as Jones, it’ll force Hundley to be one-dimensional, and it’s a dimension he hasn’t been particularly good at. Through seven quarters this season, Hundley is completing just 51.7 percent of his passes for one touchdown and four interceptions. Considering the Lions’ talented secondary, Hundley could be in a for a long night if Detroit eliminates his running game.