The Green Bay Packers are playing on primetime for the first time in the 2023 season in Week 4. They are hosting the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field in what is a huge early-season matchup between the NFC North rivals.
Both teams are coming into the game at 2-1, alternating wins and losses the first three weeks of the season. Something will have to give in that regard, as either Green Bay or Detroit are going to be on their first winning streak of the year come late Thursday night.
The Packers will be looking to exact some revenge on the Lions, who ended their playoff hopes last season. Detroit went into Green Bay in Week 18 and picked up the win, helping the Seattle Seahawks sneak into the postseason as a Wild Card team.
Who has the upper hand this time around? Here are three key matchups to watch for that will help determine the victor on Thursday Night Football in Week 4 between the Lions and Packers.
3. Packers Pass-Blocking vs. Lions Pass Rush
One of the biggest advantages that Green Bay has entering every week is their pass blocking. The offensive line has done an excellent job of keeping Jordan Love clean, as he has made the plays more often than not when called upon.
On Thursday Night, the Packers will once again have the edge in this regard. According to PFF, they have a 22 percent pass-blocking advantage over the Lions, the seventh-highest mark of the week.
But, that number is slightly skewed as the Packers have had to change their offensive line unit every week this season. Can the backups continue playing at a high level, containing Aidan Hutchinson and the No. 22 ranked Lions pass rush?
2. Amon-Ra St. Brown vs. Jaire Alexander
Easily the best one-on-one matchup this week will be the star-studded affair between wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and cornerback Jaire Alexander. Both are elite players at their respective positions and will be must-see TV every time they line up against each other.
According to PFF, St. Brown will have a distinct advantage over the Green Bay secondary. He has the fourth-highest matchup advantage, which some people will be surprised to read. But, given how often he lines up in the slot, it isn’t all too surprising.
Teams have been able to beat the Green Bay defense when targeting Keisean Nixon, their slot and nickleback. He had a big performance in Week 3, so he could be turning the corner. St. Brown will present a stiff test, especially with Alexander working his way back from a back injury that kept him out against the New Orleans Saints.
1. Lions Run-Blocking vs. Packers Run Defense
For how big of an advantage the Packers have when it comes to pass blocking, the Lions have an even bigger one for run blocking. According to PFF, Detroit has a 29 percent run-blocking advantage over Green Bay.
Slowing down their opponent on the ground has been hit or miss for the green and gold thus far this season. They rank 19th with a run defense grade of 62.5, which presents a big challenge against Detroit’s elite run-blocking unit, which ranks third in the NFL with a grade of 69.9.
Lions’ rookie Jahmyr Gibbs can provide similar explosiveness as Bijan Robinson, who tore up Green Bay’s defense in Week 2 to the tune of 124 yards on the ground and 48 through the air.