If we’re being honest with ourselves, the outlook for Sunday is bleak for the Detroit Lions. The Green Bay Packers just beat up on a Minnesota Vikings team with high hopes for 2020, while the Lions had a huge fourth-quarter letdown against a Chicago Bears team many were expected to take another step back this season. Of course, we all tend to overreact to Week 1, and there are teams that looked a lot better than they’ll actually be or a lot worse.
But even when you get into the individual matchups of this game, it’s a scary scenario for Detroit. A beaten up secondary with a rookie likely making his first NFL appearance against one of the best quarterbacks and wide receivers in the league. That tandem just connected for 14 catches, 156 yards and two scores last week.
Okay, now that I’ve beaten your confidence to a pulp, let’s build you back up. The Packers aren’t the better team in every single matchup across the board . Detroit will have some advantages on the field, so let’s take the rest of this article to highlight them and some of the Lions players that may take advantage.
Which Lions players could be in for a big game on Sunday vs. the Packers?
My answer: Let me give you three.
1. Adrian Peterson
As I noted in my On Paper preview, the Packers run defense has been bad since the beginning of 2019. Last year, they ranked 27th in run defense DVOA, and after allowing 134 rushing yards and 6.1 yards per carry in Week 1, it appears that problem is not fixed. Throw in the fact that nose tackle Kenny Clark is OUT, and it’s time for the Lions to show they can truly establish the run.
Adrian Peterson had one of the best running back debuts in Lions history last week, and he only carried the ball 14 times. While the Lions are likely to continue to spread the ball between all three of their top backs, Peterson has definitely emerged as the go-to ball carrier.
2. Quintez Cephus
Despite being in his first career NFL start, Quintez Cephus saw a team-high 10 targets come his way in Week 1. There’s clearly some built-in trust between him and Matthew Stafford. With Packers top cornerback Jaire Alexander potentially shutting down Marvin Jones Jr., Cephus could draw the easier matchup with Kevin King, who has struggled in his young career .
3. Da’Shawn Hand
While his Week 1 box score was underwhelming (1 tackle), there were signs that the old Da’Shawn Hand was back last week. He was disruptive at times, especially in the running game. Given that the Packers offensive line is going through a lot of injuries right now, Hand could be the biggest beneficiary and finally recapture some of that magic from his rookie season.
Who do you think could be in for a big game for the Lions?