Free Press sports writer Dave Birkett takes a look at five story lines to watch when the Detroit Lions play the Green Bay Packers tonight at Lambeau Field on Monday Night Football:
The Lions can’t win by settling for field goals, and after failing to score a touchdown in five red-zone possessions last week, all eyes will be on Jim Bob Cooter’s offense Monday. The good news for the Lions: The Packers rank 30th in the NFL in red-zone defense, where they allow touchdowns nearly 74% of the time.
Matthew Stafford needs one touchdown pass to reach 200 for his career. Assuming Stafford, 29, hits the milestone against the Packers (or sometime in the next seven weeks), he’ll join Dan Marino (245), Peyton Manning (244) and Brett Favre (218) as the only quarterbacks in NFL history with 200 or more TDs before the age of 30.
The Lions historically haven’t had much luck against Bretts in Green Bay, but they catch a break today with Brett Hundley starting in place of the injured Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. Hundley has thrown four interceptions in his last 58 pass attempts and the Lions believe they can get him off his game with a good pass rush.
A bigger concern than Hundley is rookie running back Aaron Jones. Jones has 297 yards rushing in the last three games and has brought some balance and diversity to Green Bay’s offense. The Lions can’t let Jones get on a roll Monday.
Marvin Jones had a career game against the Packers at Lambeau Field last year, catching six passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns. Jones has been a bit of a disappointment as a free agent, but he had his first 100-yard game since that Green Bay performance last week against Pittsburgh. Perhaps he’s headed for another Lambeau explosion.