The Detroit Lions made headlines this week when they parted ways with defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant following a slew of inexcusable performances in the secondary. I wrote Saturday about how I don’t expect it to change anything medium to long term, but in the short term, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see an uptick in secondary play. That change is just one of several factors that leave the Lions in position for a defensive show Sunday against the Packers.
Bold prediction of the week: Defense holds Packers to <22 points in win over Green Bay
I’m feeling spicy this week, so not only do we get a statistical prediction, but I’m taking the Lions over the Packers. There are a few things to consider for Sunday, beginning with the coaching change. Less than a week has passed, and it’s not like there is an outsider taking over the secondary, so we shouldn’t expect anything different in terms of scheme changes. However, Dan Campbell made it clear that the coaching change was due to a pattern of missed assignments. Defensive backs weren’t sticking to their gaps or zones, weren’t sealing the edge, and generally looked lost. It wasn’t for a lack of game planning, as several big plays against the Lions came due to those mishaps where the play would have otherwise been defended. Expect that to be the point of emphasis this week after folks watched someone lose their job over it.
To add to that, the Lions are getting some talent back this week, with Jerry Jacobs set to be a part of the game plan on Sunday. Don’t expect him to play the entire game, as we learned the hard way upon Jeff Okudah’s return, but I’d expect him to play close to half the snaps. It will be a welcome upgrade at corner after Amani Oruwariye (and any DB not named Jeff Okudah, for that matter) has struggled mightily this season.
The matchup works well for the Lions too, as this may be the closest we get all season to the Lions defense having the upper hand. Through eight weeks, the Packers have the seventh-worst scoring offense in the league at 18.1 points per game. It’s certainly not something I envisioned myself saying so long as Matt LaFleur runs the show, but it comes as a welcome surprise. To add injury to insult, Packers wide receivers Allen Lazard and Christian Watson are also both questionable as of Friday’s injury report. That’s on top of the Packers having one of the weakest receiving corps in the league, hopefully allowing Jerry Jacobs to have a smooth return.
The stars are aligned and this may be the most momentum the Lions secondary will have heading into a game for the rest of the season. If the defense can step up and allow the least points they’ve given up in a game all season, it should be enough to propel the Lions to a win.