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The Cheat Sheet: Packers’ crossing routes will slice Lions’ defense

Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers game preview and prediction.

Green Bay Packers v Detroit Lions Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

“Rodgers, with time...”

This was a common phrase out of Fox’s Chris Myers last Sunday when he called the first game of the season against the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings. It’s also a phrase many Lions fans have been used to hearing over the last few seasons with little to no noticeable pass rush.

Unfortunately for the Lions, that’s likely to continue on Sunday.

With little pass rush and multiple cornerback injuries, I expect the Aaron Rodgers to have plenty of time to slice up the Lions defense on Sunday.

The Lions like to play a lot of man coverage and the crossing routes, including the mesh concept, are definitely man-beaters. The key is to force the defender to break his path to the receiver and create separation underneath with plenty of room to run.

It’s a simple concept that the Lions have struggled to defend. And it’s one the Packers used last Sunday against the Vikings to exploit their changeover at cornerback.

Let’s take a look.

Here’s a play from early in the second quarter. The Vikings line up in man coverage with a single deep safety.

The Packers run a bit of a mesh concept to create a pick for Davante Adams.

The two bunched receivers carry the two defenders in man coverage and leave a wide open lane for Adams to run through underneath.

A five yard throw turns into a big gain.

If the Lions want any shot on Sunday, they’ll need to figure out a way to limit the Packers’ passing offense.

NFL: SEP 13 Packers at Vikings

Opponent snapshot

It’s early, but the Green Bay Packers appear to be at the top of the division heading into this week. The management and coaching staff ruffled feathers this offseason after drafting Jordan Love in the first round of the NFL draft, but one week in, that feels like ancient history.

Aaron Rodgers looked as sharp as he’s been in five years last Sunday. That’s not good news for a Lions team that could be down three or four cornerbacks.

Green Bay Packers v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Packers’ biggest threat

Aaron Rodgers

After week one, I’d be hard-pressed to find a better quarterback in the NFL than Aaron Rodgers.

Here are Aaron Rodgers’ stats from last week:

  • Yards: 364 (2nd)
  • Yards per attempt: 8.3 (6th-t)
  • Touchdowns: 4 (1st-t)
  • Quarterback rating: 127.5 (4th)
  • 20+ yard passes: 5 (1st-t)
  • 40+ yard passes: 2 (1st-t)

Not bad for a washed-up quarterback

Green Bay Packers v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Packers’ weak link

Linebackers

I know it’s early and things can change quickly, but right now it’s hard to find many holes on this Packers team.

The biggest gap in my mind is at linebacker. They let their best linebacker, Blake Martinez, walk in the offseason and didn’t do much to replace him. It feels like the Packers organization is fine with having a dominant defensive line, solid secondary, and letting the middle of defense work itself out.

The Lions should try to isolate T.J. Hockenson on linebackers throughout the game and see if they can keep up.

Bottom line

Good Aaron Rodgers is a scary Aaron Rodgers. With so many injuries in the Lions secondary and little pass rush, I expect a big game from the Packers offense.

Prediction

Lions 20 Packers 27