By Charles Jay
The Detroit Lions have gotten off to a 2-1-1 start, and even though it is just four games into the season, it is clear that there is a different atmosphere around this team. There is so much talk from coaches coming into a new picture – more often than not a distressed picture – that they are going to change attitudes; “cultures,” if you will.
Well, maybe Matt Patricia is in the process of doing just that, as he has toughened up his crew in Honolulu Blue, and they are out to win for the third time in four years at Lambeau Field, taking on the Green Bay Packers in an NFC North encounter that begins at 8:15 PM ET.
It’s ESPN’s “Monday Night Football,” and those patrons at BetAnySports who are watching the action can place wagers on it in progress by accessing state-of-the-art software from Live Betting Ultra.
So what’s different about these Lions? Well, for one thing, they are running the ball with a great deal more frequency. This is something that had been preached by previous Detroit coaches, most recently Jim Caldwell, who ran the ball only 34.4% of the time in 2015. But this season the Lions have been ground growlers, with a running play rate of 45.4%.
Green Bay got the run game cranked up last week, as Aaron Jones had 107 yards and four touchdowns. But on an overall basis, they haven’t been tremendous, averaging 3.7 yards per carry as a team. This is the part of the game they must have working, because Aaron Rodgers is going to be compromised to an extent in the passing game, as Davante Adams, by far his best and most consistent receiver, has been ruled out with his turf toe injury. Would such a thing make the task of defending a little easier for Detroit? We imagine it would, although Darius Slay, back in the lineup after sitting out two weeks ago against Kansas City, badly wanted to line up against Adams.
Detroit can’t count on a lot of “gifts,” as Rodgers have been intercepted just three times in his last 777 throws going back to the beginning of last year.
In the Monday Night Football odds that are posted at BetAnySports on this game, the Packers, the home team, are favored:
Green Bay Packers -3.5 (-105)
Detroit Lions +3.5 (-105)
Over 45.5 points (-105)
Under 45.5 points (-105)
Patricia has made it a point to talk about how “nervous” he is to be facing Rodgers. But he may have something of an ace in the hole here. It’s genesis was in last year’s game between the Lions and Rams, when Patricia set out a game plan of “quarter coverages” that threw L.A.’s outside run game and play-action passing game off-balance. Bill Belichick studied Patricia’s game plan and made extensive use of it in preparation to face the Rams in the Super Bowl. And as you know, it was one of the most impressive defensive performances in history.
That is significant because Green Bay’s first-year coach, Matt LaFleur, was the offensive coordinator under Sean McVay, and he has taken essentially the same offense with him to the Packers. And Patricia has had the benefit of extra time to prepare, because the Lions are coming off a bye week. The players may rest, but the coaches never sleep.
What Patricia likes to do primarily is dial back on the blitzes in order to help with the intermediate passing game of the opponent. He’ll rush with four, and if he isn’t doing the “quarters” he’ll have man coverage, which might not be a bad deal for him with the addition of Slay and the subtraction of Adams.
Not only do the Packers surrender 5.2 yards per rushing attempt, they also “stuff” the opponent (hold them to negative or no yardage) at an alarmingly low rate (30th in the league, in fact). And they allow 91% “power” success, which basically is a reflection of short yardage situations. So maybe Detroit runs better than usual. The rookie tight end the Lions like so much, TJ Hockenson, one of two tight ends from Iowa taken in the first round (Noah Fant of Denver is the other), will be in action, as he has passed through concussion protocol. Matthew Stafford has achieved a passer rating of at least 95 in each of his last seven meetings with the Packers.
The history of the Lions in Green Bay had been dismal, as they had gone through a stretch of 24 seasons without a victory. Now they have won two of the last three at Lambeau. Patricia has praised the mental toughness of his team; he’s talked of how they have been able to “push through any situation.” They folded in the fourth quarter of the season opener against Arizona, but have scored nice wins over the Chargers and Eagles, with a win over the Chiefs very much within their grasp two weeks ago.
They’re good. They’ve faced good quarterbacks. And they can take this one down to the wire. As we continue with WagerWAR (powered by the awesome folks at PPHVIP), we’re grabbing the points.
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(The preceding information has been furnished for news matter only)