Week 4 in the NFL began with the Detroit Lions defeating the Green Bay Packers 34-20, as the Lions took over the NFC North lead. Detroit dominated in the first half thanks to a suffocating defensive performance, and Green Bay’s late comeback attempt eventually faltered. Though it’s early in the season, the fears by Packers fans of a changing-of-the-guard in the NFC North in the post-Aaron Rodgers era may soon become reality if Thursday Night’s game was any indication.
Green Bay was hoping to exact revenge after the Detroit Lions came into Lambeau Field and eliminated their division rival from the playoffs in the regular-season finale last year. Packers Quarterback Jordan Love had an inconsistent game Thursday night, completing 23 of 36 passes for 246 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions. Despite a promising start in the season-opener against the Chicago Bears, Love has struggled to replicate that success in the following 3 games. If it weren’t for a late fourth-quarter drive against the New Orleans Saints last week that helped his team squeak out a 1-point victory, Green Bay would be on a three-game losing streak.
Green Bay Packers: Bad Play & Bad Luck
There is little doubt after Thursday’s game that as of right now, the Detroit Lions are indeed the cream of the crop when it comes to the NFC North division. Putting aside the struggles of the hapless Bears and Minnesota Vikings (both winless), the Lions have defeated the Packers 4 straight times going back to the 2021 season. But the Packers are dealing with personnel issues as well that may very well hamper their ability to remain competitive with Detroit going forward.
Running back Aaron Jones and wide receiver Christian Watson have both been dealing with hamstring injuries. Cornerback Jaire Alexander missed Thursday’s game with a back issue, and guard Jon Runyan left the game against the Lions with an ankle sprain. And, in devastating news, left tackle David Bakhtiari was put on injured reserve and is expected to miss the rest of the season after undergoing knee surgery.
On the other hand, Detroit already has a handful of signature wins early in the season and has not buckled under the pressure of unusually high preseason expectations. They were able to put the whole league on notice with a 21-20 win against the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs on opening night. Despite some lingering doubts from the media and fans about quarterback Jared Goff, the offense has been able to rely on the steady play of running back David Montgomery, who was acquired from the Bears this offseason. More importantly, the defense continues to be stout under the leadership of second-year defensive end Aiden Hutchinson.
Even considering their Week 2 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks, it is fair to surmise that Detroit is positioning itself not only as the frontrunner in the division but as a serious contender in the conference. Even Jordan Love himself admitted himself that, at least for now, Detroit was the team to beat. In an article in Sports Illustrated, Love was quoted telling reporters after the game:
“Yeah, for sure,” said Love, when asked if the Lions were the team to beat in the NFC North, via ESPN’s Rob Demovsky. “It was us and them heading into this game.”
Now, it would not be the first time that fans and pundits jumped to conclusions early in an NFL season and made premature predictions about teams’ fates, so it is important to let the entire season play out. But it is hard to deny that if the Detroit Lions continue to play the way they are right now, they will most definitely be in the driver’s seat for the NFC North crown.