Pregame: Lions Packers 2017 Week 9

Well it’s been a nice bye week – a time to get away from football and not think as much about Aaron Rodger’s injury. But now we’re back and it’s time to hope (or just quit paying attention, if you prefer, but please don’t take the third option of complaining all the time and pretending that Colin Kaepernick, or any other player who’s sitting around unemployed in November, is going to make a lick of difference). Let’s look at the big themes for this week.

Health
Everyone without the jersey number of 12 seems ready to go (with the possible exception of Martellus Bennett, but he apparently retired in June so it shouldn’t matter – bring on Kendricks!). Even Vince Biegel is off the PUP and may be ready soon. Morgan Burnett and the whole offensive line should be good to go, the corners all had some time off to lick their wounds and apply burn salve. All in all, this may be the healthiest the team has been all year… outside of QB, anyways.

Read More: Why Rodgers Won’t Return In 2017

The Other Aaron
Aaron Jones is looking like the real deal. Detroit has a solid run-stopping front, but Green Bay has a really good offensive line and they are as healthy as they have been since like April. If he can continue producing at 80% of what he’s been doing, he’ll be good enough to keep the offense afloat as a run-first team. I believe he can do it. I took my time jumping on the bandwagon because I wanted a bigger sample size, but I’m, satisfied now. He has uncanny vision about how holes open up and he’s shown that it wasn’t just against one inept team. It’s the real deal – there is no way for a defense to plan or scheme against a back who can see how holes are shifting and anticipate where to go without thinking. With a good offensive line, he should be able to keep on moving the chains. Having Ty Montgomery as a relief option is a darn good position to be in.

Defense Backfield Shuffle
Morgan Burnett was a big reason for the defensive disarray. He’s back and will be wearing the communication helmet, which should go a long way in getting players to line up in the right spot. He was playing a lot of nitro linebacker and that gave my boy Kentrell Brice a lot of playing time at safety. With Brice sadly moved to IR, that probably means that Morgan Burnett will stay back at his traditional safety role while Josh Jones plays more nitro. That’s not a bad tradeoff, as safety is (was) probably the deepest position on the team and I’m very excited about what the Vinegar Badger is going to do with more playing time. At corner, Rollins’s injury (which also unfortunately sent him to IR) means the starting three are pretty set with King, House, and Randall, which is pretty decent. Josh Hawkins will be salivating on the sidelines waiting for the first DamaRand blowup. Overall, not terrible.

Update: DamaRand was added to the injury report with an illness and now King has a back issue. This could get ugly.

The New Brett
Hundley hasn’t looked great against the Vikings or Saints, but he doesn’t need to be great, he just needs to be solid. He needs to be as good as was in his rookie preseason (and there’s hope as Peter Bukowski illustrates here with a good film breakdown over at Acme Packing Company). He has talented receivers (except Martellus Bennett, who retired in July) that can make things happen if he can just get the ball in their hands. With another two weeks to gameplan and build off of actual live game film, the offense should be tailored to Hundley ahead of any adjustments the Lions are making to attack him (a rainless forecast should also help him a little.). He doesn’t need to be Aaron Rodgers, he just needs to be good enough – it’s a team game.

It’s A Team Game
With the Packers defensive depth holding up and recovering from injuries, they could be the kind of squad that limits teams to field goals enough to allow an offense riding a hot rookie running back to score about, if not more, points than their opponent. Special Teams have been solid with Vogel looking like an upgrade at punter and Jeff Janis returning to All-World Gunner status. They could do with Trevor Davis on the bench, though (unless he stops juking, which it doesn’t seem like he will). Good showings from defense and special teams can make up for an average offense and beat a team like the Lions. But will they?

Predictions
I could see the run game, balanced by Aaron Jones, a healthy TyMo, and Brett Hundley, producing enough clock-eating offense to outscore a decent Lions teams, but I’m not betting on it. I think the team rushes for 150 yards, but I’m not sure they will pass for that much, and it will be their downfall. The offense will struggle behind a QB that isn’t quite there yet. With Lions LT Greg Robinson missing practice, I think CM3 gets a sack and they’ll need him and Perry to be effective because the Lions have a solid enough interior line to hold back the Packers front 3. Blake Martinez should rack up double digit tackles against a struggle run attack, but that’s not what will decide the game – Matt Stafford will be the one the Lions turn to on Monday. The Packers secondary will be their usual self: looking stellar for the first half, minus giving up a big play or two, and slowly crumbling as the second half wears on and then becoming totally unable to stop a game winning drive. The crowd on a Monday Night home game could be a factor and the Lions are always capable of Lionsing it up, but I think Detriot is going to snap their three game losing streak after dropping some tight games against good teams. The late injuries to King and Randall could make this even worse.

Packers 17, Lions 23

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