The NFC North is home to some fierce rivalries and some of the oldest franchises in the NFL. Many NFL bettors looking for the best opportunity to use their welcome betting offers will focus on this division ahead of others because there is so much history to study.
This season, the NFC North is particularly fascinating as it is developing in a way that few were expecting and while the Detroit Lions are once again struggling, the Green Bay Packers have also made a slow start to the season. In this article, we look ahead to their week nine clash at Ford Field.
Results not telling the full story for lions
Last season, the Lions finished with a dismal 3-13-1 record, registering their fourth consecutive year of achieving double-figure losses.
Yet, there was at least some optimism among Lions fans as they finished the season relatively strongly in what was the first year on the job for General Manager Brad Holmes, Head Coach Dan Campbell, and quarterback Jared Goff.
Goff struggled in the role, but there were signs of improvement in their last six games, winning three after going winless through their first 11.
With a young and promising receiving corps, a dramatically improved running game and a strong offensive line, there seemed to be a genuine reason to be optimistic about 2022. Unfortunately, and not for the first time, Lions fans have been facing a series of disappointments.
One win in their opening five games does not suggest there has been much improvement, and yet, of the first four defeats, only one was a blowout loss, to the New England Patriots.
The Lions got within three points of the in-form Eagles, went down by a similar margin to Seattle, and were within a touchdown of their divisional rivals the Minnesota Vikings.
Packers are in trouble after a slow start
Packers fans concerned about the opening day defeat to the Vikings were convincing themselves that it was a minor setback, and a run of three wins, two by narrow margins appeared to have steadied the ship.
The clucking of many chickens coming home to roost could be heard in the Packers organization as the decision to let Davante Adams leave, the lack of pre-season practice and the shortcomings of Matt LaFleur’s offensive gameplan all came under the microscope once again.
A misfiring offense, an under-par Rodgers, and some questionable game management have conspired to create a distinctly mediocre start to the season and allowed the Vikings to get a head start in the race for the division.
Any team with Aaron Rodgers on it is always going to have a chance, but the problems have been evident, and it will take a lot of work for this Packers line-up to start looking like playoff contenders, let alone a team that can get to the Super Bowl.
The NFC North has some of the oldest rivalries in football and none are older than that between the Lions and the Packers, which goes all the way back to 1930.
At that time the franchise that would become the Detroit Lions was known as the Portsmouth Spartans and played its home games in Ohio.
The Packers won that first game 47-13 and it wasn’t until 1932 that the Lions earned their first win against Green Bay, although they went on to win both of the games on either side of their name change.
The rivalry has ebbed and flowed over the years. From 1934 through to 1949 the Packers dominated, winning 26-5 over that period, but the 1950s belonged to the Lions who won 13 out of 15.
Since the turn of the millennium, the Packers have generally been on top, aside from a run of four games in 2017 and 2018 during which the Lions won all four. Green Bay has also won their only two playoff encounters, in the 1994 and 1995 seasons. Overall, Green Bay leads the series 105-73-7.
Key players to watch
Aidan Hutchinson was selected second overall in the 2022 draft and has a huge role to play for the Lions this season. Three sacks through the first five games was a good start, but the Lions need more from their defense overall and Hutchinson has to be the leader.
The Lions conceded 170 points in their first five games and while the offense has generally delivered, that defensive performance is unacceptable.
The key player for the Packers is Aaron Rodgers. One of the most gifted quarterbacks of all time, his off-field activities over the last couple of seasons have not helped the Packers to prepare.
Davante Adams has hinted that Rodgers’ uncertainty about committing to the Packers during the offseason was a factor in his decision to leave the franchise.
However, Rodgers remains the key. He has the experience to get the offense rolling and to find a way to mold his misfiring receiver group into an effective unit.
Where the game will be won and lost
We can expect this game to be decided by defense. Detroit is a team of extremes, ranking in the top 10 through the first six weeks of the season on yards per game in both passing and rushing. Yet, they rank 26th and 32nd when defending the pass and the run respectively.
Interestingly, Green Bay has been effective at pass defense in the early weeks of the season so that will pose a challenge for Jared Goff and his offense.
Much will depend on whether the Lions can improve and can get to Aaron Rodgers. If they can’t and their defense remains at the same poor level, Rodgers will surely have enough opportunities to get the Green Bay offense performing.