Packers Now Control Their Own Destiny After Impressive Win Over Detroit

Just a few weeks ago the Packers were more concerned with their future draft position than contending, but after winning three of their last four games, including a dominating 29-22 victory over Detroit on Thanksgiving, they somehow now control their own playoff destiny. If the Packers were to win out over their final six games, they would be assured of a playoff spot, and most playoff forecasting sites have then as better than fifty-fifty to make it, especially after the Bears upset the Vikings on Monday night.

The Packers struggled in all areas of football earlier this year, to the point where they even traded starting corner Rasul Douglas for a third-round pick at the deadline, but it’s clear most of those early struggles were simply growing pains for the youngest team in the league. Jordan Love has played two excellent games in a row, and on Thursday in Detroit, he had the best game of his young career completing 22 of 32 passes for 268 yards, three scores, and no interceptions. Love hit his receivers at all levels of the field, and he was masterful in spreading the wealth as five packer receivers had three catches or more.

Rookie slot receiver Jayden Reed continued his excellent season with 34 yards receiving and an incredible touchdown over the middle that may have glanced off of the shoulder of Christian Watson, but it was Watson who finally had the breakout game everyone has been waiting for. He managed to outmuscle Detroit safety Tracy Walker on the game’s first play for a 53-yard gain and continued to show uncommon physicality throughout the day en route to a five catch, 94-yard performance, including a 16-yard score in the third quarter.

Love was impressive despite a poor performance from the running game as AJ Dillon was held to just 43 yards on 14 carries, but Jayden Reed, and Love managed to pick up a few key first downs with their feet to keep drives going. It was enough, as the Packer play-action attack worked wonder, creating big play after big play in the passing game, and confusing the Detroit secondary. While Love was outstanding, this was also the most creative offense we have seen out of Matt LaFleur this season.

On the other side of the ball, the Packers managed to keep the Lions’ run game in check as safety Jonathan Owens and linebacker Isaiah McDuffie continuously shot to the ball. The Packers managed to take an early lead, which helped to limit Detroit’s running opportunities, but when the Lions tried, the Packers were up to the challenge, holding David Montgomery and Jahmyr Gibbs to a combined 126 yards on 26 carries. Their effort was vastly superior to the previous meeting between these teams when the duo gouged Green Bay for 161 yards and three scores, on 40 carries.

The real star for the Packers was Rashan Gary, who recorded three sacks of Lions’ quarterback Jared Goff, in addition to two forced fumbles and one recovery, and provided steady pressure for the duration of the game. Goff is one of the worst quarterbacks in the league when pressured, and for the Lions, keeping him clean is the most important part of their offense. They generally do a very good job upfront, but Gary was having none of it. Rookie corner Carrington Valentine continued his excellent play as well, as the secondary held Amon-Ra St. Brown to just 95 yards on eleven targets.

The Lions are a good team and remain heavy favorites to win the division, making this a true statement victory for the Packers. They’ll have to make another statement next week as they take on the 8-3 Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday Night. Kansas City has struggled on offense this season as they also have one of the youngest receiving groups in the league, but unlike past incarnations of the Patrick Mahomes Chiefs, they have one of the league’s best defenses, especially against the pass. Twelve different Chiefs have recorded at least one sack this season, and their secondary is one of the best in football. As good as Jordan Love was on Thursday, he’ll have to improve again for Green Bay to have a chance.

The league is already taking notice of the new and improved Packers. If they can upset the Chiefs, that will quickly escalate to red alert status, and we will start to hear about how no one wants to face the Packers in the playoffs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *