Maggie's Pre-Game Six Pack - 2020 Week 14

Coaching change in Detroit, the NFC North up for grabs, and more in this week's pre-game six pack.

There’s plenty at stake for the 9-3 Packers heading into a division matchup against the Detroit Lions. Let’s get right to it. Here are six things to keep an eye on heading into Sunday’s game:

1. Win the North

Last year, the Packers clinched the NFC North in Week 16 with a win over the Minnesota Vikings. This season, the Packers can clinch the division as early as this week with a win against the Lions and a Minnesota loss to the Buccaneers on the road. 

“The first goal is always the North, and we’re up three with four to play,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said in his post-game presser last week, and that first goal could be achieved in Week 14. 

As things stand currently, the Packers are the second seed in the NFC and would host the seventh seed (right now the Vikings) at Lambeau Field during the Wild Card Round. The 10-2 New Orleans Saints are in control of the No. 1 seed and have won nine straight since their loss to Green Bay, but the Saints have a daunting stretch to finish the season that includes the Vikings, Chiefs, and division rival Panthers. 

If the Saints drop one, and the Packers manage to run the table, or if the Saints drop two and the Packers drop one to finish 12-4, the road to the Super Bowl will go through Lambeau Field. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. Just beat the Lions.

2. Touchdowns for Tae

We’ve talked about Packers records just about every week it seems, and Davante Adams might set another one for the franchise on Sunday in Detroit. Against the Eagles, Adams had his seventh consecutive game with at least one touchdown, tying a record set by Don Hutson who did so twice in his career. If Adams snags a touchdown against the Lions, he’ll set the new record with eight. 

Per the dope sheet, that milestone is entirely possible for Adams, who has six receiving touchdowns in his last seven games played against the Lions. His six touchdown receptions since 2015 against the Lions are the second most in the NFL during that span, behind only Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph who has eight. 

Despite missing two games this season, Adams already has 13 touchdowns on the year, tying the career high he set in 2018. He’s also officially surpassed 1,000 receiving yards for only the second time, despite reaching 997 yards twice. 

3. Are 30-Burgers a Thing?

The Packers rank first in the NFL in points (379) and touchdowns (48) through 12 games and are first in the league averaging 31.6 points per game. The Lions boast one of the worst defenses in the NFL and are currently 31st in the league in points against giving up an average of 29.8 points per game. 

Green Bay has scored 30-plus points in nine games so far this season, putting up 42 points against the Lions in their Week 2 matchup. It was also the ground game’s best performance of the season, rushing for 259 total yards. 

What’s more, the Lions have given up 33 red zone touchdowns this season and a completion percentage of 68.8%. Their defense has struggled to get after the quarterback (18 total sacks) and they give up most of their points in the fourth quarter. 

4. Excuse my Patricia

The Lions moved on from former head coach Matt Patricia after just over two and a half seasons. His first season with Detroit saw his highest win total at 6-10, and after a 2019 season going 3-12-1, he was already on thin ice with the organization. 

After starting the 2020 season 4-7 with two last place finishes in the NFC North under his belt, Patricia was fired following a Thanksgiving day loss to the Texans 41-25. 

Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell was named the interim head coach, and he currently has a 1-0 record after Detroit’s comeback victory over the Chicago Bears last week 34-30. 

This will be Green Bay’s second time facing an interim head coach this season, as their Week 7 matchup against the Houston Texans was Romeo Crennel’s third game as interim head coach replacing Bill O’Brien. At the time, Crennel was 1-1 and he now sits at 4-4 on the season. 

What does all of this mean? Probably not much, honestly, but any time a new coach is introduced it gives opposing teams something new to gameplan for. It reminds me of the 2018 Packers and how they won their first game under interim head coach Joe Philbin before finishing the season 2-2. The Lions might look a little different on Sunday, but they’re still the Lions. 

Fun fact: Bevell was Rodgers' quarterbacks coach in 2005 when he entered the NFL. 

5. Sacks on Sacks

The Packers had a season-high seven-sack performance against the Eagles on Sunday, and it was the team’s best sack total since 2018. Edge rusher Za’Darius Smith had 1.5 sacks on the day, bringing his 2020 total to 10.5 and making him the first player since Clay Matthews (2009-2010) to post back-to-back seasons with double digit sacks. 

Smith’s 24 sacks are the most in team history by any Packer in his first two seasons with the team, and there’s still time for him to add to his total. Smith is also only 3.5 sacks shy of setting a new career high (13.5 in 2019) and has four games left to do it. 

As a whole, the Packers defense is tied for 10th in the NFL in sacks with 31. Plenty of defenders have contributed to that total in recent weeks, with second-year lineman Kingsley Keke having his second two-sack performance of the season. That brings his season total to four, tied with Rashan Gary for second on the team behind Smith. 

6. 800 and Counting

With a win against the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday, the Green Bay Packers became the first team in NFL history to reach 800 wins, including postseason. While the milestone means little in the grand scheme of things and speaks largely to the team’s rich history, it also illustrates how long the Packers have played at a high level with sustained success. 

The Lions make up 103 of those victories, with the entire NFC North accounting for 266 of Green Bay’s 800 NFL wins. Sunday’s matchup will be No. 183 in the series between the Packers and Lions, with Green Bay holding a three-game winning streak over Detroit. 

 

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Maggie Loney is a writer for Cheesehead TV and podcaster for the Pack-A-Day Podcast and Pack's What She Said. Find her on Twitter at @MaggieJLoney.

5 points

Comments (14)

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NickPerry's picture

December 11, 2020 at 06:54 am

I can almost guarantee you Adams will get a TD against the Lions (probably more) before the 1st quarter is over. I'm sure Rodgers knows and will make it a point to get it done early.

I think Jones will have a great game but Jamal Williams will have one too. The Lions run defense is atrocious so I think everyone has some fun at the Lions expense. Would REALLY like to see Dillon some carries. I still think this kid is going to be a beast.

Hopefully Keke Kingsley continues to get opportunities to play. Jason Peters sure isn't what he used to be, but Keke still made a hell of a play against him last week for a sack. Hell it was so good Peters was benched after IIRC.

Kamal Martin NEEDS to play and the Packers NEED to just let him play and learn from his mistakes. Kirksey has looked like he has cement in his shoes and now Raven Greene is hurt again. Let the kid play!

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 11, 2020 at 07:11 am

I'm guessing that Dillon won't play this week. Since he just started practicing, I'm guessing they will bring him along slowly and he won't play until next week.

Keke needs to be used at the very least in pass rush situations. He has that quickness that can't be taught. Keke needs to get better in the run game, but his pass rushing ability is really good.

I agree about Martin! He needs to play. He has the ability to knife through the offense and make tackles for a loss. I don't see Kirksey making plays like that very often. With Greene out, they need guys who can tackle and tackle hard Martin is that guy!

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PeteK's picture

December 11, 2020 at 09:12 am

Might be a combo of Jackson on passing downs , Martin on running. This might spell a last hurrah or ugh for Josh.

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 11, 2020 at 08:32 am

The part I liked more about this last game was how much Pettine was sending extra guys. I don't remember seeing any 3 man rushes. Pettine being aggressive and attacking offenses is exactly what we need. One of the reasons why he maybe felt he could send extra rushers is having both his starting CB's back. If that gives Pettine the confidence to blitz. I'm happy about that.

2 second year players have really started to emerge this year. Both Gary and Keke have really improved the pass rush. Gary while only has 4 sacks, has really made an impact. It feels like he should have 10 sacks. There have been a lot of instances when he got to the QB just after someone else wraps him up. Keke, offers the quickness inside to get past OG's. The more these 2 guys play in passing situations the better our pass rush will be.

Also Preston has been showing up more lately. If Preston gets going, Gary keeps rising, Z does his thing, Keke and Clark keep bringing it from the inside, our pass rush will become stronger and stronger. Another guy that could be really good is Martin on blitzes. He has that ability to knife through the OL. Don't be surprised if we start seeing him blitz more.

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PeteK's picture

December 11, 2020 at 09:39 am

Not as much blitzing against a good veteran QB, a very good receiver, and an on the rise TE. Yes, it's pretty obvious that Gary is our starting OLB. Do we save 12mill in cap space and release Preston? Along with Kirkey's 6 mill brings back Jones, Tonyan, and maybe King as he is not even in the the top 50 free agents available.

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RCPackerFan's picture

December 11, 2020 at 10:45 am

You do bring up a lot of great questions.
I have wondered if they may either try and restructure Preston's contract. Or even release him. I don't know what the dead money would be, but that might be a move they consider.

Kirksey would be another one they might decide to let go. With Martin and Barnes, they may like those guys enough to go with them. Could be similar to having Jimmy Graham and Tonyan. Graham is the name, but Tonyan is clearly the better player at this point. Will Barnes be a better option then Kirksey next year?

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PeteK's picture

December 11, 2020 at 05:26 pm

Martin and Barnes can't get any worse as Kirksey missed so much time, at least they will be much easier on the cap.

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NickPerry's picture

December 11, 2020 at 08:01 pm

If you look at Preston Smith's career his entire career has been up one year, down the next.
2015 - 8 sacks
2016 - 4.5 sacks
2017 - 8 sacks
2018 - 4 sacks
2019 - 12 sacks
2020 - 3 so far

LOL...Hell next year is his "UP" year so cutting him is a bummer. BUT I think you're on the right track. Getting rid of P Smith, Kirksey, and possibly Wagner would help but it's going to be tough.

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Lphill's picture

December 11, 2020 at 09:36 am

I think its Barnes who fills in for Raven Greene in the box, Barnes has that sideline to sideline speed that Martin doesn't have , Martin takes some bad angles sometimes like Nagler mentioned today, but we will see.

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Mojo's picture

December 11, 2020 at 09:36 am

That GB was never ahead of Detroit last year in regulation, but won both games without OT, was one of the strangest oddities I have ever witnessed in sports.

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stockholder's picture

December 11, 2020 at 10:17 am

Ke Ke and Gary=. I was getting use to Winn and Greene. While Keke and Gary may peak like Nick Perry. Lets give credit to the coverage sacks. And without Greene and Winn. These guys will look exhausted in Detroit. Splash plays will get attention! But watch how Detroit runs right at them. This secondary needs King. And while everyone will point to his loss time. It is going to be the biggest mistake this team makes in letting him go. I'll rate this right with the loss of Sharper,Hyde, and Hayward. Football players are hard to find. Underwear Olympians aren't. This is the game for Aaron Jones to make money. Rodgers needs to feed him.

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PeteK's picture

December 11, 2020 at 06:02 pm

You are right he is important to this D. However, how much can he be missed when he is injured half the time, but I would sign him for a short term affordable contract.

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Since'61's picture

December 11, 2020 at 10:32 am

I would start my pre-game six pack with win the game. We can’t control what happens in the Vikings game but at least we will know the result by the time the Packers take the field. If the Vikings lose then by all and every means win the division.

Adams will get his targets and I suspect a TD or 2 will come as well. Beyond that we should exploit the Lions poor run defense and run more than pass today. Protect Rodgers, run the ball and keep Stafford off the field.

No let up, no excuses, no prisoners. Packers 34 - Lions 20.
Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since ‘61

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Lphill's picture

December 11, 2020 at 12:18 pm

The Lions only beat the Bears last week because of a strip sack on Trubisky that set up the Lions in the red zone.

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