It’s that time of year again: the race for the playoffs. The Kansas City Chiefs and New Orleans Saints have already punched their ticket to the postseason. The Packers have a chance to join them on Sunday.
Packers vs. Lions in 2020
The Packers will face the Detroit Lions on the road this Sunday for the second meeting between the two teams in 2020. The Packers defeated the Lions 42-21 in Week Two of the season. Aaron Jones was the star of that game, gaining 168 rushing yards on 18 carries and scoring two touchdowns on the ground. He added four receptions for 68 yards and another score through the air.
For the Packers to clinch the NFC North this week, they need the Vikings to lose to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Both the Vikings and Bucs are fighting for playoff seeding, as neither is likely to win their division. As it stands, the Bucs own the sixth seed and the Vikings the seventh.
Should the Vikings beat the Bucs, the Packers can still clinch a playoff berth this weekend if the Arizona Cardinals lose to the New York Giants. Both of these teams, too, are fighting for their playoff lives. The Giants are currently leading the abysmal NFC East while the Cardinals are tied with the Vikings at 6-6. The Vikings own the tie-breaker over the Cardinals because the Vikings have a better record in their division.
The Packers’ Keys to Victory
On paper, the Packers should win Sunday’s 3:25 matchup rather handily. However, division games are always tougher. In Week One, the Packers blew out the Minnesota Vikings on the road, only to lose to them later in the season at home. That being said, here are the keys to victory for the Green Bay Packers.
Key #1- Attack the Lions’ Defense
The Green Bay Packers’ offense is second in the NFL in yards per game with 396.6. They are also first in the league in points per game with 31.6. The Lions defense, on the other hand, is among the NFL’s worst. Detroit has the fifth-worst defense in terms of yards per game allowed (395.6) and second-worst in terms of points allowed per game (29.8).
In their first matchup in Week Two, Packers’ running back Aaron Jones had over 200 all-purpose yards and three total touchdowns. Jones is coming off of a stellar performance against the Philadelphia Eagles, in which he ran for 130 yards and a touchdown. If he can stack consecutive big-time games, it will go a long way in leading the team to victory.
Key #2- The Packers’ Defense
Early in the season, the Green Bay Packers’ defense drew a lot of criticism for their inability to stop the run and giving up too many points. In the past five games, however, the defense is allowing just 19.6 points per game. If they had had that level of play throughout the season, they would have the fourth-best defense in the NFL, in terms of scoring. With Lions’ wide receiver Kenny Golladay hampered with injuries, their options on offense are limited. The Packers’ defense needs to keep their foot on the pedal and continue to dominate bad offenses.
Key #3- Special Teams
The weakest part of this Packers team is their special teams play. Opponents have returned punts for touchdowns twice in recent games. In the loss to the Colts, the special teams allowed Indianapolis to start several drives past the 50-yard line, making things difficult on the defense. Mason Crosby, while perfect on field goals in 2020, has missed two extra points in recent weeks. These mistakes must be cleaned up, or even bad teams can make games difficult for the Packers.