Yes, there have been quite a few BetOnline patrons who have expressed some doubt that the Green Bay Packers could experience success without Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. But perhaps they have some room to maneuver in the NFC North. That's because there's a chance that Jordan Love will get very comfortable in the starting spot.
Love, who was Green Bay's first-round draft pick in 2020 NFL Draft, out of Utah State, where he ran a high-speed offense, was under a considerable amount of pressure, since we can assume that Rodgers wasn't happy with Green Bay's decision to take him and not a receiver to help him. But with a full training camp as the starter, he's shown himself capable of taking command.
And now he's in a showdown, if so much can be said for a game so early in the season. Love will lead the Packers onto the not-so-frozen tundra at Lambeau Field to take on the Detroit Lions, as part of Amazon Prime's Thursday night package, which will kick off at 8:15 PM ET.
Love threw for three touchdowns in each of the first two games of the 2023 season. the first was an 18-point win at Chicago, and then there was the come-from-ahead 25-24 loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Last time out, as the Packers played host to the New Orleans Saints, Love had some problems getting the offense going. And the Pack went into the fourth quarter with a 17-0 deficit. But they had a little something going for them, as Saints quarterback Derek Carr was removed from the game with a shoulder injury.
New Orleans went limp, and the Packers came to life. Love threw a couple of touchdown passes, and the Saints missed a field goal with time running out. The 18-17 final might have been something of a gift for the Packers, but any team aspiring to the playoffs has to find a little luck.
In the NFL Thursday Night Football betting odds that have been posted on this game by the folks at BetOnline, the Lions are favored on the road:
Detroit Lions -2
Green Bay Packers +2
Over 45 points -110
Under 45 points -110
Love has completed just 53% of his passes, which looks mediocre by today's standards. But he's been taking chances down the field. In fact, his "Intended Air Yards" figures (average length his throws go beyond the line of scrimmage) is 10.5, which is the highest in the NFL. In other words, he isn't a "safety-first" thrower the way many of the league's quarterbacks are.
Here's what helps him: Aaron Jones, one of the league's top dual-purpose backs, has been cleared to play after sitting out last week with a hamstring injury. He is not only a high-output ball-carrier, he is also great catching passes, and the Lions have allowed eight yards per receptions to running backs. Wide receiver Christian Watson, who's also had a hamstring injury, is playing as well.
Here's what's not so good - David Bakhtiari, one of the better left tackles in the business, is out with a knee injury. The other tackle, Zach Tom, is questionable.
And the Lions have proven to be pretty solid on both sides of the line of scrimmage. They've allowed just 3.2 yards per rush attempt. And you can't help but be impressed by the way they shut off Atlanta's formidable run attack last week (44 yards on 20 rushes). Will that make the Packers one-dimensional? Maybe.
What might be more significant here is the availability of David Montgomery, who combines with Jahmyr Gibbs for a nice 1-2 punch in the backfield. We know what coach Dan Campbell likes to do. The better the Lions can run the ball, the better Jared Goff will be able to operate. Goff thrives with play action, and in fact, has thrown for 11.3 yards per attempt on play action passes.
I often like the team with fewer offensive line issues. In this case that would be the Lions. And, for what it's worth, Detroit is 10-0 ATS when coming off a double-digit spread win.
We doubt this is an atmosphere that is going to intimidate the Lions, who came to this site and ruined Green Bay's playoff chances with a 20-16 road win in last season's finale. So we are on the Detroit side.
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