This Monday, October 14th, marks the Detroit Lions return to Monday Night Football. The last time we saw them perform on this stage, it was not pretty, they were obliterated by the New York Jets and rookie quarterback Sam Darnold 48-17, during last seasons opener, en route to a disappointing 6-10 finish.
However, this year's Lions team has a different look and feel to them. They are coming in with a strong 2-1-1 record, fresh off of a heartbreaking loss to the mighty Kansas City Chiefs in their last contest, and extra rest this past bye week. This team is poised to show what they are capable of Monday night.
The Lions opened as 6 point underdog (now down to as low as 4) to the Green Bay Packers, but I do not think the Packers are prepared for what is coming for them.
Here are 5 reasons why the Detroit Lions will beat the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football
Kerryon Johnson's Improved Play
Has it finally happened? Have the Lions finally found the long-awaited heir to the legendary Barry Sanders?
Probably not. But this guy is fun to watch. After what was a pedestrian start to the season, Kerryon Johnson broke out in a significant way last season again the Chiefs — rushing for 125 yards on 26 attempts for a healthy average of 4.8 yards per carry.
Going up against a Packers team that allows the 26th most rushing yards per game in the league, I believe that this is only the beginning of Kerryon's breakout, giving Matt Stafford something he has never had before, a reliable run game.
This can only mean one thing for the rest of the league, watch out.
Cohesive Offensive Line
Coming into this matchup, the Packers are tied for 9th in the league with 15 sacks. Getting pressure on the quarterback is imperative to their defensive success. I say good luck!
One of the most influential position groups for the lions this year has been a bit of a surprise, not from lack of investment, but from past ineptitude. Since taking over, Bob Quinn made it a point of emphasis to fix this offensive line. Spending multiple draft picks, including a couple of first-rounders, and millions of dollars in free agency to bring in the right players. I think it is finally coming to fruition.
They are opening holes in the run game, but more notably. They are keeping Stafford upright. Having only been sacked 7 times, 5th lowest in the league, they are giving him time to make plays and make plays he has.
Look for the offensive line play to be essential in how the offense performs this week.
Bye Week Means Extra Recovery Time
Bye weeks are dreadful. Especially after such an exciting contest like the Chiefs game. But this bye week could not have come at a better time.
With how close the Lions came to defeating the Chiefs during week 4, I could not help but feel as if they were one big play away from putting the game away. But who was missing? That's right, Mr. Big Play Slay himself was sidelined with a hamstring injury. In addition to Darius Slay, several other defensive playmakers were absent or restricted during the game. We have still yet to see Da'Shawn Hand on the field this season!
So here's to this bye week helping to clean up the Lions injury report and get the team back to full strength.
Revitalized Team Culture
One of the many narratives of this season so far has been the improved team culture within the Lions locker room. All signs point to players buying into head coach Matt Patricia's vision. Time and time again this season, the team has shown resilience and determination. Pulling out big wins against tough opponents in the Philadelphia Eagles and the Los Angeles Chargers, as well as taking the Chiefs to the final whistle. We are seeing a team that knows its talented and is ready to shake the frame within the NFC.
The Lions opened as 6 point underdogs to the Packers for Monday night football. Look for this lack of respect to motivate the players and give them the extra edge come game time.
Matt Patricia's New Found Experience
Since Matt Patricia's hire, we have been told countless times about what he brings to the table, his expertise, and that's defense. As the former defensive coordinator for the New England Patriots, the expectation here was that he was going to fix what has plagued the lions for what seems like an eternity, their porous defense. From what we have seen so far in 2019, it looks as if this team is turning a corner.
They are aggressively forcing turnovers, punching out fumbles, and more and more making life difficult for the opposing offenses. I believe that we are only seeing the beginning of what this defense will be able to do.
Coming into his second season as head coach, he has an important amount of experience over Packers rookie head coach Matt Lafleur, who, after spending time with several teams on the offensive side of the ball, is known as an offensive specialist.
So, in a battle of bitter division rivals, and an offensive head coach against a defensive head coach, I expect this new found experience to be a key difference-maker in the lions taking home a dub here on Monday night.
Prediction: Detroit Lions 24 Green Bay Packers 20