The Detroit Lions host a divisional rival in the Green Bay Packers in their annual Thanksgiving game. Detroit is coming off a comeback victory over another NFC North team, the Chicago Bears, 31-26. The Lions last won on Thanksgiving in 2016, and they look to end their six-game Thanksgiving losing streak on Thursday.
Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for many things like family, friends, pets, and even the Detroit Lions! It feels like a family tradition that you all get together every year to watch your favorite team lose on Thanksgiving, but this year, Detroit wants that to end. This team is different from the others, and the franchise has turned a corner, so this year might start a new tradition where the good guys win.
Green Bay was looked at differently by everyone back in Week 4 compared to what they are now. Early on in the season, many wondered if the Packers might be able to live without former quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Now, quarterback could be the team’s first draft pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.
Let’s look at the Green Bay Packers in the Detroit Lions Week 12 scouting report and learn more.
2023 Green Bay Packers
2023 season thus far (4-6)
Week 1: Win against Chicago Bears 38-20
Week 2: Loss against Atlanta Falcons 25-24
Week 3: Win against New Orleans Saints 18-17
Week 4: Loss against Detroit Lions 34-20
Week 5: Loss against Las Vegas Raiders 17-13
Week 6: BYE
Week 7: Loss against Denver Broncos 19-17
Week 8: Loss against Minnesota Vikings 24-10
Week 9: Win against Los Angeles Rams 20-3
Week 10: Loss against Pittsburgh Steelers 23-19
Week 11: Win against Los Angeles Chargers 23-20
- 20th in points scored, 10th in points allowed
- 21st in DVOA
- 19th in offensive DVOA (14th in pass DVOA, 25th in run DVOA)
- 24th in defensive DVOA (24th pass DVOA, 20th in run DVOA)
- 31st in special teams
In the first matchup between these two, the Packers were 2-1, and things looked promising for the offense with Jordan Love at quarterback. The defense had shown some strength. Since the loss to Detroit in Week 4, things have been rocky for the Packers. They went on a four-game losing streak, starting with Detroit and then took losses to the Raiders, Broncos, and Vikings.
After the team was able to break a four-game losing streak to the Rams, things improved. They would lose to the Steelers the following week, but a win against the Chargers isn’t easy; ask the Lions. A big key to the turnaround has been the play by Love. In the four-game losing streak, Love threw four touchdowns and seven interceptions, completing just 60.8 percent of his passes. In the last three games, Love has thrown five touchdowns and two interceptions with a completion rate of 65.6 percent.
Another reason the offense seems like they are figuring things out is the inclusion of rookie tight end Luke Musgrave. Early in the season, he was a central feature in the passing game, but in the losing streak, he only had 13 catches for 74 yards. In their last three games, he has nine catches for 143 yards and a touchdown. The offense has been the main problem for the Packers this year, and they are figuring things out, which could be dangerous for the Lions.
Their defense continues to be an issue for opposing offenses, but injuries have plagued that side of the ball to see some regression in some areas. With four starters in the secondary either on IR or missing their last game, they are feeling the effect defending the pass. In their previous three games, their toughest matchup was against quarterback Justin Herbert and the Chargers, and if wide receiver Quentin Johnston hadn’t dropped a pass late in the game, the Chargers could have won.
After allowing just 256 passing yards combined in the previous two games against the Rams and Steelers, the secondary allowed 260 against the Chargers. Now faced up against Lions quarterback Jared Goff and the plethora of wide receivers, it could be a long day for the Packers secondary.
- Traded away cornerback Rasul Douglas.
Key players ruled out: LT David Bakhtiari (IR/knee), CB Eric Stokes (IR/hamstring)
Key players to monitor: S Darnell Savage (IR/calf), LB De’Vondre Campbell (neck), TE Luke Musgrave (abdomen), CB Corey Ballentine (shoulder), DL Kenny Clark (shoulder), LB Rashan Gary (shoulder), G Elgton Jenkins (knee), CB Keisean Nixon (ankle), WR Christian Watson (shoulder) S Rudy Ford (bicep), CB Jaire Alexander (shoulder), RB Aaron Jones (knee), RB Emanuel Wilson (shoulder)
While the injury report had a good amount of players last time Detroit played Green Bay, it wasn’t this jam-packed, and with this many talented players. The good news for the Packers is Savage has been activated from IR and was a limited participant in Monday’s walkthrough. With the game being on a short schedule, it’s hard to know if he’ll play this week. Ford and Alexander missed the game last week against the Chargers, but if they can practice somewhat this week, they could return against the Lions.
The secondary is running thin, and with the team trading away Douglas to the Buffalo Bills, they have to dig deep in their bench when injuries come for them. It doesn’t help that Nixon and Ballentine joined the injury report this week as this could be a bad day for the Packers secondary.
Campbell, Clark, and Gary have been focal points in the defense this season, and while they were limited in the walkthrough on Monday, their status will be something to watch out for. If the Packers secondary is banged up, the defensive front seven will need to step up to help out the injured group.
The running back position will also need to pull out some depth, as Jones and Wilson left the game early against the Chargers. Dillon finished the game on Sunday, but he appeared on the injury report for Monday, leaving his status for Thursday in doubt as all three running backs on the roster last week are injured in some capacity. Though the Packers did add some help in the backfield (more on that later).
Seeing Watson and Musgrave on the injury report isn’t good for the offense either. If the running back room has a lot of injuries, the offense will need to pass the ball and if two major weapons in the passing game can’t play, that makes the job even harder for Green Bay. Overall, this team is banged up and they are playing on a Thursday at the worst time.
Biggest strength: Defensive front seven
While the defense has been dealing with injuries, the unit that continues to show up week in and week out is the defensive front seven. Led by linebackers Rashan Gary and Preston Smith, those two help the defensive line create pressure on opposing offensive lines. Gary and Smith lead the team in sacks with 5.5 and 5.0, respectively, but the defensive line has been putting in more work to help them.
Defensive lineman Kenny Clark—the meat and potatoes of the front—has 26 tackles, four sacks, three tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, and a pass deflection this season. He has gotten help from the man next to him, Karl Brooks, who has 10 tackles, four pass deflections, four tackles for loss, and three sacks. Another contributor has been Devonte Wyatt, with 21 tackles, four tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and a pass deflection.
Karl Brooks gets to Herbert for the SACK— Packers Nation (@PackersNationCP) November 19, 2023
The last time the Lions played the Packers, Green Bay got to Goff twice for sacks, and the Packers got six QB hits, five coming from the front seven. The Lions might still be without starting left guard Jonah Jackson, as he missed the game last week against the Bears. If Jackson is out, rookie offensive lineman Colby Sorsdal will likely slide in and have a tough matchup against this defensive front.
Biggest weakness: Running back
As I mentioned earlier, the running back position is depleted with injuries to Jones and Wilson. The Packers have yet to have much success on the ground this season, and now, possibly without Jones, who’s their best all-around back, it makes it difficult for the ground game to get going. Dillion does lead the backs in yards with 376 and a touchdown on 103 carries, but he only has 114 yards on 12 catches.
With all of the injuries at running back, the Packers signed Patrick Taylor to the roster on Monday, as well as signing James Robinson to the practice squad. Taylor should see some game time on Thursday, and I could see Robinson getting called up to the main roster. No matter who is playing at running back out of those three, that room is unlikely to have as much success. Though last time they played Detroit, they were held to just 27 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
Key matchup: Lions defensive line vs. Packers offensive line
While the Lions’ receivers could feast on a beat-up Packers secondary, the most crucial matchup is in the trenches for Detroit. In the last matchup, Detroit got five sacks on Love, making it difficult for the Packers to get any passes off. When Love wasn’t getting sacked, he faced pressure, which forced two interceptions.
In his last three games, Love was sacked eight times. The offensive line is still dealing with issues as Love has been taken down 22 times this season, tied for 12th most in the league. The offensive line will see an upgrade from the last matchup, as left guard Elgton Jenkins will likely be back (limited on Monday), so it will be more challenging for Detroit to get to Love this time.
In their last three games, Detroit has only gotten eight sacks, with six coming against the Raiders. They were held to zero against the Chargers and only had two against the Bears. Detroit will need to create pressure on Love to help force some turnovers, and with the running back room thin, the passing game has to be how the Packers move the ball and try to win. If the Lions can disrupt that and make it difficult for the Packers, it should set up for a happy Thanksgiving for the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan.
Vegas line for Sunday: Lions by 7.5