Not many thought we’d be here. Week 17 of the season. The Detroit Lions vs. the Green Bay Packers. Both teams eliminated from playoff contention. Both teams debating whether some or all of their coaching staff needs to go. Both teams with very little to prove on Sunday.
That being said, the Detroit Lions have the opportunity to do something they’ve never done in over 25 years: Sweep the Green Bay Packers. The last time that was done was in 1991.
Are they primed to finally put that streak to bed? Let’s take a look at the 2017 Packers.
TE Martellus Bennett , TE Lance Kendricks, CB Davon House, DT Ricky Jean Francois, G Jahri Evans, OLB Nick Perry (re-signed)
Key losses: G T.J. Lang, RB Eddie Lacy, TE Jared Cook, C JC Tretter, DE Julius Peppers, DE Datone Jones, DB Micah Hyde
Key draft picks:
- CB Kevin King (Round 2)
- S Josh Jones (Round 2)
- RB Aaron Jones (Round 5)
2017 season results (7-8)
Week 1 - vs. Seahawks - Won, 17-9
Week 2 - at Falcons - Lost, 23-34
Week 3 - vs. Bengals - Won, 27-24 OT
Week 4 - vs. Bears - Won, 35-14
Week 5 - at Cowboys - Won, 35-31
Week 6 - at Vikings - Lost, 10-23
Week 7 - vs. Saints - Lost, 17-26
Week 9 - vs. Lions - Lost, 17-30
Week 10 - at Bears - Won, 23-16
Week 11 - vs. Ravens - Lost, 0-23
Week 12 - at Steelers - Lost, 28-31
Week 13 - vs. Buccaneers - Won, 26-20
Week 14 - at Browns - Won, 27-21
Week 15 - at Panthers - Lost, 24-31
Week 16 - vs. Vikings - Lost, 0-16
Reasons the Lions should be optimistic:
The Packers offense has been god awful under Brett Hundley. Green Bay is averging just 18.0 points per game when their backup quarterback has started. That includes two shutout at the hands of the Ravens and Vikings.
The Lions were able to hold Hundley in check for nearly the entire game, allowing just three points through three quarters, with Green Bay’s second touchdown coming as time expired.
Additionally, the Packers roster is beat up and they’ll likely be sitting some key players. Just take a look at their inactive list from last week against the Vikings:
Green Bay Packers inactives tonight vs Vikings:— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 24, 2017
17 WR Davante Adams
23 CB Damarious Randall
52 LB Clay Matthews
53 LB Nick Perry
54 C Dillon Day
73 G Jahri Evans
77 G/T Adam Pankey
While they may get some of those players back, Jordy Nelson has a shoulder injury and may not play after missing practice on Wednesday.
Reasons to be pessimistic:
If there’s one thing this beaten up Packers team can still do, it’s run the ball. And that’s the one thing we’ve consistently seen the Lions struggle with in the second half of the season.
Since the two teams last played, Green Bay is averaging 118.9 rushing yards per game and 4.5 yards per carry.
Aaron Jones will likely be out for the game, due to a knee injury, but fourth-round rookie Jamaal Williams filled in well on Saturday, rushing for 58 yards on 15 carries.
Additionally, Brett Hundley—for whatever reason—is playing much better away than at home. Take a look at his split:
Home: 55.6 comp. %, 4.85 Y/A, 0 TDs, 7 INTs, 50.6 passer rating
Away: 67.7 comp. %, 6.76 Y/A, 8 TDs, 3 INTs, 97.6 passer rating
The Packers are a bad team, and their injury situation is much worse than the Lions. However, we’ve seen the Lions play down to their competition all year, especially at home. They barely squeaked by the Browns and Cardinals at Ford Field and are just 3-4 at home.
Given last week’s loss to the Ravens, it would not surprise me to see the Lions drop this game, but comparing talent to talent, Detroit is easily the better team right now.