Since their Week 2 matchup, the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions have gone in different directions. The Packers have continued their winning ways while the Lions, well, have not. Things have become so disjointed in Detroit that the Lions have moved on from head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn.
Yet, the Lions are still nominally playoff contenders. If they win and get help, they’re still in the running. That may be a tall order, but to figure out exactly how tall an order it is, we asked Mike Payton of Pride of Detroit a few questions as to the state of the Lions.
Acme Packing Company: What’s changed for the Lions on offense since the last time the Packers saw them? Are the Lions better, worse, or about the same?
Mike Payton: Right now it seems they’re better for the simple reason that Matt Patricia is no longer suffocating them. It’s only been one game since he’s been gone, but the Lions’ offense looked rejuvenated against a pretty good Bears defense last week. Look for that type of scheme to continue. Darrell Bevell is letting Matthew Stafford be Matthew Stafford. Getting D’Andre Swift back will only help.
APC: T.J. Hockenson looks to be having a nice year statistically. In his second season, do you feel like he’s living up to his status as the eighth overall pick in last year’s draft?
MP: Absolutely. He’s been very reliable for the Lions in the absence of Kenny Golladay. He’s been the Lions’ leading receiver for much of the season. He’s Pro Bowl-bound and the future looks pretty exciting for him. He could very well be the next big thing at tight end.
APC: Outside of Hockenson, who’s been a bright spot for the Lions on offense? Defense?
MP: The Lions offensive line has been playing better all year. For as much well deserved flack that Bob Quinn got in Detroit, he’s done a good job of putting together the core group of this line. On Defense, I struggle to find anyone playing well outside of Amani Oruwariye. Even he’s not playing all that great.
APC: Matt Patricia’s entire coaching reputation was built on defense. Now that he’s gone, what’s next for the Lions on that side of the ball?
MP: A complete rebuild is on the horizon. Matt Patricia was not the defensive genius that so many made him out to be. He got rid of good players and replaced them with Ex-Patriots that were Ex-Patriots for a reason. There are a few bright spots, but for the most part, this defense could look 95% different in 2021.
APC: Defensive end Romeo Okwara is having a good statistical year, already surpassing his career-high in QB hits and nearly matching his career-best sack total. Is this a true breakout year?
MP: Romeo has been breaking out since coming to Detroit. He’s a real diamond in the rough. While he’s playing quite well, I think this may be his ceiling. He is on a contract year and he’s about to get paid by someone, I’m just not sure he’s this good outside of Detroit yet. There’s hope he stays. His brother also being on the tea could help that happen.
APC: If you were Matt LaFleur, how would you attack the Lions defense?
MP: I would let Aaron Jones do his thing all day as he did in the Week 2 game. The Lions cannot stop the run. Aaron Rodgers could take the day off if he wanted to. Otherwise, I would have Rodgers continue to attack this bad secondary.
APC: What’s your prediction for Sunday?
All right, who’s ready to have fun? The Packers are going to score at will. They’re going to be unstoppable all day long. But the Lions might be too. it’s late in the season and I don’t really care about being wrong anymore. I think this is a shootout game much like the 2011 season finale. I think the Lions ride the momentum wave and barely win this game. Yeah I know I’m crazy. Lions 45-42.