Since he took over as the Green Bay Packers starting quarterback in 2008, Aaron Rodgers has posted an incredible 9-1 record against the NFC North rival Detroit Lions with the only exception coming after he suffered a concussion in the second quarter of a 7-3 loss in Detroit in 2010.
It was worrisome at the time for Packers fans, but Rodgers would return and lead the team to its last Super Bowl title. Detroit wound up 6-10, missing quarterback Matthew Stafford to a season-ending shoulder injury and at the time was enduring a four-year drought without a division victory.
Fast-forward to present day, and Detroit just might have a defense capable of thwarting Rodgers for the early division lead. The two sides will meet Sunday afternoon at Ford Field, with the Lions owning the No. 2 ranked defense in the NFL.
Detroit is coming off a 24-7 loss to Carolina in Week 2, but much of the fault lies on the offense committing three turnovers rather than a defense that held the rush savvy Panthers to 62 yards on the ground and a 3-for-12 rate on third down. Led by devastating defensive tackles C.J. Mosley, Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, the Lions pass rush is among the early league leaders with 6.0 sacks.
Detroit will need that trio to dominate the line of scrimmage, especially after Green Bay overcame an 18-point deficit to beat the New York Jets 31-24 in Week 2. It was the Packers first victory of the season, and helped them avoid their first 0-2 start for the eighth straight year.
Though he was sacked four times, Rodgers went 25-for-42 for 346 yards and three touchdowns, with receiver Jordy Nelson benefiting the most with nine receptions for 209 yards and a touchdown. Randall Cobb also totaled five catches for 39 yards and two scores.
The Green Bay defense struggled to contain New York’s rushing attack, allowing 146 yards on the ground, and gave up a touchdown on the Jets first three drives. But they eventually settled down, and only surrendered a field goal in the final 45 minutes of the game.
The Packers will roll out a secondary that’s allowing 178.5 passing yards per game, the sixth best mark in the league. But they haven’t faced as daunting a passing offense as Detroit’s, powered by Stafford and All-Pro receiver Calvin Johnson. Stafford is third in the league with 637 passing yards and three touchdowns, and Johnson is right behind NFL-leader Nelson with 247 yards after two games.
With top cornerbacks Tramon Williams and Sam Shields, Green Bay might be able to contain the Stafford-Johnson connection, which opens the door for Lions running backs Reggie Bush and Joique Bell. Detroit’s running attack is far from lethal, ranking No. 28 in the league with 73 yards per game and only two touchdowns. Yet Bush and Bell have caught 15 passes for 121 yards out of the backfield, and have the speed to break out into the open field.
Start Time: Sunday, 1 p.m. EST
TV Channel: FOX
Betting Odds: Detroit -1
Over/Under: 52 points
Predicted Score: Detroit 30, Green Bay 27