DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Lions seem to need a win over Green Bay to stop Matt Patricia’s first season from being a flop.
Week 5 may seem a little early for an NFL team to be desperate.
Not in Detroit.
The Lions (1-3) were embarrassed in a 48-17 loss to the New York Jets, who haven’t won since the opener and appear to be one of the league’s worst teams . The Lions did earn an impressive win over New England in Week 3, but the lone victory is sandwiched between comebacks that fell short at San Francisco and Dallas.
Detroit, which hasn’t won a division title since 1993, can get a boost of confidence and go into a bye week on a high if it can beat the Packers (2-1-1) for a third straight time.
“It would be huge because if you win this one, you get to enjoy this one for a little bit longer and you got a break to enjoy,” Detroit receiver Golden Tate said. “If you lose this, you’re thinking about it until you’re back on the field.
“Besides that, it’s a divisional game. I like to think it counts as two. A win for us and a loss for them, that’s a two-game swing in my mind.”
Unlike last year’s season sweep, though, the Lions will have to face two-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers. He was injured for the 2017 matchups.
“One of the best ways to get into the playoffs is to win your division games and this is our first opportunity,” Detroit safety Glover Quin said. “If we get a win here, we’ll have two wins just like Green Bay. Minnesota has one. Chicago has three wins, but no one is running away with it right now.”
Here are some things to watch for in Sunday’s game at Ford Field:
Green Bay’s superstar quarterback voiced his displeasure with the offensive production last week against Buffalo despite a 22-0 win and 400-plus yards of offense. Coach Mike McCarthy has chalked up the frustration to Rodgers’ competitiveness, adding he was also unhappy.
Rodgers has been playing through a left knee injury that appears to limit his mobility.
“When the adrenaline kicks in on game day, I’ve felt a little better the last couple games,” he said.
Green Bay’s top three receivers are banged-up, leading to them miss practice time. Davante Adams has a calf injury. Randall Cobb missed the Bills game with a hamstring injury. Geronimo Allison has been in the concussion protocol.
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Tate is on pace to have the best season of his nine-year career with team highs in catches (28), yards receiving (389) and receiving touchdowns (three) through four games.
Entering the final year of his contract, Tate said his agent and the Lions are not discussing a new deal.
“I’m always down for talking, but they completely stopped,” the 30-year-old Tate said. “I’m just going to do my job. I still feel young, which is a major key.”
Aaron Jones could be emerging from the Packers’ crowded backfield. A slasher with big-play potential, Jones is working his way back into the three-man running back rotation after being suspended the first two games. He’s averaging 6.3 yards per carry after averaging 5.5 yards last year as a rookie.
Jamaal Williams started the first four games and has stood out in pass protection. Ty Montgomery is a receiving threat out of the backfield. Jones has been third in the rotation, allowing the Packers to put perhaps their best runner into the game at a time when the defense isn’t as fresh.
Detroit’s Darius Slay, who has an NFL-high nine interceptions since the start of 2017, has become one of the league’s best cornerbacks, as last season’s All-Pro recognition confirmed.
“He’s a premier corner,” Rodgers said. “And the thing I’ve always respected about him is he does star coverage. He plays on both sides of the field, he plays in the slot, and not many corners do that.”
In 2015 after the Lions won in Green Bay, Slay said Rodgers foresaw the recognition that was coming.
“You’re underrated,” Slay recalled Rodgers saying to him. “You’re one of the top guys. Keep playing and you’ll get (notoriety).”
The Packers’ defense finally put together a four-quarter performance in the shutout of the Bills after three roller- coaster weeks of alternating one good half with one choppy half. Granted, they had seven sacks and forced three turnovers against a rookie quarterback in Buffalo’s Josh Allen.