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Packers Preview: Battle Of The Mitten States

The Packers enter Week nine as slight favorites over division rival the Detroit Lions. Both teams are battling injuries and sporting two of the worst rush defenses in the league. So which team will leave Ford Field with the win?

The Packers are currently second in the NFC North with a half-game lead over the Chicago Bears. The Minnesota Vikings are running away with the North, while the Detroit Lions sit dead last. Green Bay (3-5) travels to Detroit (1-6) for a divisional showdown Sunday afternoon. The Lions’ season is over already, but they never quit. Even in Week 18 every season when the Packers have punched their ticket, Detroit makes sure to play hard. Both teams have struggled to contain the run on defense and have had several injury issues on offense.

Packers And Lions Injury Report

The Packers have already ruled out inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and cornerback Shemar Jean-Charles. Shemar isn’t a big hit since he’s a depth cornerback and mainly plays on special teams. He’s been out for a couple of weeks, so his injury won’t affect the game. Campbell, on the other hand, is rough. De’Vondre is the Packers leading tackler and will be missed greatly. Rookie linebacker Quay Walker will take the reigns over as he looks to continue his dominance. Left tackle David Bakhtiari and right guard Elgton Jenkins are still battling knee injuries but are expected to play.

Wide receiver Allen Lazard missed last week’s game with a shoulder injury but should return after a one-game absence this week. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers continues to carry an injury designation with his thumb injury, but nothing is serious, and he’ll suit up. Outside linebacker Preston Smith is dealing with a shoulder and neck injury; he is questionable going into Sunday. Wide receiver Christian Watson, who left Week eight with a concussion, was spotted at practice yesterday and is questionable to play.

The Lions have a bunch of injuries, notably defensive end Charles Harris, running back D’Andre Swift, wide receiver Josh Reynolds, tight end Brock Wright, and offensive tackle Taylor Decker. Lead running back Swift continues to be limited with his ankle and shoulder injuries and was capped last week. He should once again be limited in Week nine, allowing former Packers running back Jamaal Williams to take the helm. After news broke out Tuesday regarding the Lions trading elite tight end T.J. Hockenson to the Minnesota Vikings, the top tight end option, Brock Wright, is questionable to play with a concussion. Taylor Decker is tending to a back injury that has limited his practice this week.

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Packers: What To Watch For

On both squads, the running game should be the key. The game clock will continue to run, leading to a quick game as both teams have found success on the ground. Both teams are missing key offensive weapons, but the Packers have a stellar secondary that should limit the Lions’ air attack. Look for running back Aaron Jones to continue his dominance, and also look for a bounce-back game for backup running back AJ Dillon. Dillon has fallen off recently as the Packers rode the hot hand in Jones. If Allen Lazard returns, look for him, tight end Robert Tonyan and rookie wide receiver Romeo Doubs to be the top options in the passing game.

With D’Andre Swift limited, Jamaal Williams could easily compile 100-plus yards from scrimmage against the Packers’ weak containment. Since standout wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown mainly plays slot, cornerback Jaire Alexander may or may not be in coverage which could lead to a decent game for St. Brown.

Packers Versus Lions Prediction

Green Bay does not want a shootout against Detroit; expect head coach Matt LaFleur to run the ball with Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon. A mix of run and pass to open up the deep balls will be needed to win. No one expects much from the Lions’ defense; they are currently 27th against the pass and 30th against the run. The Packers are strong against the pass, currently ranked second and 29th in defending the run. I project a win by the Packers, 27-24. This should be a close game, but I won’t write off a blowout. Anything can happen in this game.

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