GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay Packers don't believe a lopsided loss to start the season should impact their sky-high expectations for what they can accomplish this year.
But it sure raises the stakes as they prepare to face the Detroit Lions in a Monday night home opener.
Green Bay's string of six straight season-opening victories ended with a thud when the Packers fell 38-3 to the New Orleans Saints at Jacksonville, Florida. The Packers now will try to win their home opener for a ninth consecutive season.
"It's not acceptable, but it's just one game," Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. "We're not going to be held prisoner mentally by that poor performance. Like I said, we're not going to change a ton of things. I don't think there needs to be wholesale preparation changes, schematic changes. We had a clunker and we've got to play better. I expect that we will on both sides of the ball."
Rodgers threw two interceptions without a touchdown pass in the season opener. Green Bay's 35-point defeat marked its most lopsided loss in any game Rodgers has started.
The reigning MVP will try to bounce back against a team he traditionally has dominated, particularly at Lambeau Field. The Packers have gone 9-2 in Rodgers' 11 home starts against the Lions. Rodgers has thrown 21 touchdown passes with only four interceptions in those games.
Rodgers will be facing a Lions secondary that must regroup after losing starting cornerback Jeff Okudah for the season to a ruptured Achilles tendon.Detroit's likely starting cornerbacks will be Amani Oruwariye and Ifeatu Melifonwu, a rookie third-round pick from Syracuse. They understand the challenges of facing Rodgers.
"He'll be a first-ballot Hall of Famer," Oruwariye said. "A great quarterback who can make all the throws, really controls that offense. But this game is about us. It's about a mentality we come with, the physicality we bring."
The Packers have won their past four meetings with the Lions overall and are favored this time by 11½ points, according to FanDuel SportsBook. The Lions delivered a better performance than the Packers on the season's opening week, even though both teams lost.
After trailing by as many as 28 points, the Lions made a frantic comeback before falling 41-33 to the San Francisco 49ers in a game that marked the Detroit debuts for head coach Dan Campbell and quarterback Jared Goff.
"We showed a lot of resilience," Lions rookie receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown said. "Almost came back and had a chance to go to overtime. I think just showing that fight we had, gives us confidence going into each and every game."
Lions running back Jamaal Williams will be making his return to Green Bay, where he played from 2017-20 while rushing for a total of 2,039 yards.
Williams left the Packers via free agency and now teams up with D'Andre Swift in Detroit's backfield. He rushed for 54 yards and a touchdown on nine carries and caught eight passes for 56 yards in his Lions debut.
Swift (groin) and Williams (chest) were both limited participants in Thursday's practice.
SMITH'S BACK TROUBLE
Packers outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith was on the field for just 18 snaps against the Saints and could be limited again Monday.
The Packers' top pass rusher is dealing with a back issue that caused him to practice just one day during training camp.
"We're not going to play him as much as we'd like to until we know that he's healthy enough to do that," Packers coach Matt LaFleur said.
The Lions ranked last in the NFL in points allowed per game, yards allowed per game and yards allowed per play last season. Detroit was the only team to allow more points than Green Bay did in the opening week of the season.
New Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry held the same position with the Lions from 2007-08.
ESTABLISHING THE RUN
The Packers had the fewest yards rushing (43) and second-fewest carries (15) of any NFL team in the season's opening week.
This matchup could be a chance for the Packers to put more of an emphasis on the running game. Green Bay's Aaron Jones has averaged 5.4 yards per carry against the Lions in his career. He ran for 168 yards, caught four passes for 68 yards and scored three touchdowns in the Packers’ 42-21 home victory over the Lions last season.
DETROIT (0-1) at GREEN BAY (0-1)
Monday, 8:15 p.m., EDT, ESPN
OPENING LINE: Packers by 11 1/2, according to FanDuel SportsBook
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Lions 0-1, Packers 0-1
SERIES RECORD: Packers lead 62-54-3 (includes postseason)
LAST MEETING: Packers beat Lions 34-27 on Dec. 13 in Detroit
LAST WEEK: Lions lost 41-33 to San Francisco 49ers at Detroit. Packers lost 38-3 to New Orleans Saints in Jacksonville, Florida
LIONS OFFENSE: OVERALL (8), RUSH (16), PASS (8), SCORING (8)
PACKERS OFFENSE: OVERALL (32), RUSH (32), PASS (26), SCORING (32)
LIONS DEFENSE: OVERALL (28), RUSH (22), PASS (23), SCORING (32)
PACKERS DEFENSE: OVERALL (10), RUSH (30), PASS (3), SCORING (30)
TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Lions: plus-1. Packers: minus-3.
LIONS PLAYER TO WATCH: Amani Oruwariye becomes the team’s top CB now that a ruptured Achilles tendon has knocked Jeff Okudah out for the rest of the season. Detroit drafted the former Penn State standout with a fifth-round pick in 2019 and he started 15 games last season.
PACKERS PLAYER TO WATCH: QB Aaron Rodgers is the reigning MVP, but is coming off a miserable performance in which he went 15 of 28 for 133 yards with two interceptions and no touchdown passes.
KEY MATCHUP: Packers WR Davante Adams vs. Lions secondary. Adams had a franchise-record 115 catches for 1,374 yards last year and also had 18 touchdown catches to match Sterling Sharpe’s team record. The Saints limited him to five receptions for 56 yards. Adams will be facing a Detroit secondary that’s not at full strength without Okudah. The Lions starting cornerbacks will likely be Oruwariye and Ifeatu Melifonwu, a rookie third-round pick from Syracuse.
KEY INJURIES: Along with Okudah’s injury, the Lions have WR Tyrell Williams in concussion protocol. Lions OT Taylor Decker is out with a finger injury that will cause him to miss at least Detroit’s first three games. … Packers TE Josiah Deguara and OG Lucas Patrick are in concussion protocol. Packers S Darnell Savage left the Saints game with a shoulder injury. Packers All-Pro OT David Bakhtiari is on the physically unable to perform list and will miss at least Green Bay’s first six games as he recovers from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Packers OLB Za'Darius Smith didn't practice Thursday because of a back issue that limited him to 18 snaps in the Saints game.
SERIES NOTES: The Packers are 4-0 against the Lions since Matt LaFleur took over as Green Bay’s coach. … The Packers beat the Lions 42-21 in Green Bay and 34-27 in Detroit last season. … The Packers are 27-3 against the Lions in the state of Wisconsin since 1992, including a 1994 playoff victory. … The Packers have gone 9-2 in Rodgers’ 11 home starts against the Lions. Rodgers has 21 touchdown passes and four interceptions in those 11 games.
STATS AND STUFF: The Lions erased most of a 28-point deficit before falling 41-33 to the 49ers in their season opener. … Green Bay’s 38-3 loss to the Saints ended the Packers’ string of six straight season-opening victories. … Former Packers RB Jamaal Williams and RB D’Andre Swift combined for 93 yards rushing on 20 carries and each caught eight passes in the Lions’ loss to the 49ers. ... Lions TE T.J. Hockenson had a career-high eight catches for 97 yards and scored for the third straight season-opening game. ... Lions LT Penei Sewell, the No. 7 pick overall, made a late switch from RT because of Decker’s injury. Sewell fared well against 49ers DE Nick Bosa. ... Lions DB Will Harris had a career-high seven tackles against San Francisco. … The Packers have won their past eight home openers, the longest such streak in team history. … Rodgers has 51,378 career yards passing and could overtake John Elway for 10th on the NFL’s career list Monday night. Elway threw for 51,475 yards. … Packers K Mason Crosby has made 19 straight field-goal attempts, four off his own team record. Crosby made 23 straight field-goal attempts from 2010-11. … The Packers have never lost consecutive games within the same season under LaFleur, who is in his third year as Green Bay’s coach. … New Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry held the same position with Detroit from 2007-08. … This is the second straight year the Packers have opened their home schedule against the Lions. … Both quarterbacks attended California, were first-round picks and helped their teams reach the Super Bowl in their third seasons. Green Bay drafted Rodgers No. 24 overall in 2005 and the Los Angeles Rams selected Jared Goff No. 1 overall in 2016. The Lions acquired Goff from the Rams in March.
FANTASY TIP: Packers RB Aaron Jones rushed for 168 yards, caught four passes for 68 yards and scored three touchdowns when the Lions visited Green Bay last year. He has averaged 5.4 yards per carry against the Lions in his career. After Green Bay failed to produce any kind of rushing attack in its opening game, look for Jones to have a big performance Monday as the Packers look to establish the run.