It’s odd to think, but the Lions’ season could be in trouble just two games into the schedule. They blew a 17-point lead last week at home against the Chicago Bears and follow up with a tough road game against the Packers.
From a divisional standpoint, with a loss, they could find themselves two games behind the Packers with a difficult schedule remaining, including a road game next week at Arizona and a week 4 matchup with the New Orleans Saints.
More: Detroit News predictions: Lions at Packers
The Lions haven’t trailed the Packers during a game since Dec. 31, 2017, having lost both games last season on field goals as time expired and sweeping the season series in 2017 and ’18. In their recent success, the Lions have done a reasonable job of keeping Aaron Rodgers from having breakout games and of keeping time of possession close.
Here are five things to watch as the Lions visit Lambeau Field and the Packers on Sunday (1:00 p.m., Fox, 760):
After missing the opener because of a hamstring issue, cornerback Jeff Okudah will make his NFL debut against Aaron Rodgers. After a stellar career at Ohio State, Okudah was the No. 3 overall pick and was immediately marked to replace the Lions’ best corner last season, Darius Slay. Okudah practiced fully all week and shouldn’t be limited against the Packers. He’ll be pushed in his new role, but likely won’t be matched exclusively on the Packers’ Davante Adams. The Lions will be shorthanded in the secondary, with Justin Coleman (hamstring) on injured reserve, Desmond Trufant (hamstring) out and Darryl Roberts (calf) questionable.
THE RUN GAME
The Lions managed 138 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries, including an impressive 93 yards from 35-year-old Adrian Peterson in his Lions debut. They leveraged their rotation, finding carries for Peterson, starter Kerryon Johnson (seven) and D’Andre Swift (three). They were effective and efficient, getting 4.8 yards per carry and Peterson and Swift each had three catches. What stuck out was that the Lions were able to have more rushes (29) than passes (24), in an offense that hadn’t been able to have much success in the running game.
The Lions didn’t get much pressure on Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky last week and managed just one sack. Without Nick Williams (shoulder) up front, they’ll have to do a better job this week. Coaches have talked all week about not giving Aaron Rodgers too much time to pick the secondary apart and the lack of push against the Bears wasn’t just on the defensive front, but on the whole defense. Either way, winning the push up front and getting Rodgers uncomfortable will help the cause immensely.
ON THE LINE
The Packers could have a retooled offensive line with right tackle Billy Turner (knee), who missed last week’s game, listed as questionable this week and right guard Lane Taylor out for the season because of a knee injury. The Packers added tackle Rick Wagner, who played three seasons in Detroit, in the offseason and he could be pushed into a starting role. Green Bay totaled 158 rushing yards (on 32 carries) last week even with a depleted line. The Lions will be without Joe Dahl (groin), and Halapoulivaati Vaitai (foot) is questionable.
Without Kenny Golladay (hamstring) for the second straight game, the Lions will have to find a better rhythm in the passing game. Matthew Stafford was 24-of-42 for 297 yards. In the absence of his best weapon, Stafford leaned on Quintez Cephus, with a team-high 10 targets, and Marvin Jones (eight). The Lions didn’t have a lot of big plays but controlled the tempo of the game, until they gave up three touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Marvin Hall had just two targets (one catch) and looking to him more for big plays can help open the field.