The Detroit Lions haven't been defending the opposition's wide receivers well at all lately, or much of 2013. That could only mean good news for the Green Bay Packers' areal attack on Thursday afternoon.
During the last four weeks, the Lions are on a nasty streak. They've allowed at least one of their opponents receivers to go over 100 yards in every game dating back to the contest against the Dallas Cowboys. As a whole, the Lions have allowed a 100 yard receiver in all but three of their games this year, proving the secondary hasn't really improved.
Some of the less notable names the Lions have allowed to go off? Jerome Simpson, Alshon Jeffery, Josh Gordon, Antonio Brown and recently, Tiquan Underwood. Though there are some solid receivers within that group, it's hardly a who's who of recent, top pass catchers in the NFL.
Given these numbers, and the fact that Detroit's pass defense rates 28th in the league, it's clear that contrary to the number of interceptions the defense has pulled in, the secondary has not truly improved. They've remained as vulnerable as ever to the deep pass, while allowing an alarming amount of shorter passes to go for major yardage.
Perhaps some will take solace in the fact that Aaron Rodgers won't be suiting up on Thursday, still nursing his injured collarbone. If anyone other than Matt Flynn was starting in his place, it could be reason to feel confident. Given that Flynn has already torched the Lions for 480 yards in a less meaningful game during his career, there is plenty of reason for concern.
In a match up with Detroit on January 1, 2012, Flynn made a pseudo-star out of himself by throwing six touchdown passes, half of which were to Jordy Nelson. In total, Nelson went for 162 yards against Detroit, while Jones nearly went over 100 himself, snagging 89. Ryan Grant went for 80 yards on one pass, and Jermichael Finley had a respectable 64 yards receiving. Clearly, Flynn already knows how to distribute the ball against the Lions' defense.
Though the Lions also lit up the scoreboard, it didn't matter because their defense couldn't stop the Packers' passing attack. Considering the alarming lack of improvement Detroit has seen with defending receivers in 2013, it could end up being another long day for the Lions' defensive backfield on Thanksgiving. If Underwood, a player who had recently been signed back by the Buccaneers after being cut can go over 100 yards with rookie Mike Glennon, certainly either Nelson or Jones could with Flynn.
Will the Lions be able to break their 10 year losing streak on Thanksgiving? Probably only if they're able to keep Green Bay's best receivers under 100 yards.
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