The Green Bay Packers head to Motown on Thanksgiving Day for a rematch with the Detroit Lions. The Packers enter the game with a 4-6 record while the Lions are 8-2. The Packers are coming off a 23-20 win over the Los Angeles Chargers while the Lions scored a remarkable 31-26 comeback win over the Chicago Bears. Here are six key matchups that determine who will win Thursday’s Packers-Lions game.

The Packers lead the all-time series between these two teams 103-76-3 in the regular season. These two clubs first met in 1930 when the Lions were known as the Portsmouth Spartans. The Lions won the last four meetings between these teams including a 34-20 effort earlier this season at Lambeau Field. The Packers have won both playoff games between the teams which came after the 1993 and 1994 seasons.

Here is a look at six key factors that will determine who wins Thursday’s game in Detroit:

Packers Key Matchups: Number One, Pressure Jared Goff

Lions quarterback Jared Goff is having a good but not great season. He’s thrown 16 touchdown passes and eight interceptions and has a quarterback rating of 96.1.

The Lions offensive line has done a good job of protecting Goff. He’s been sacked only 17 times in 10 games thus far.

The Packers pass rushers will be challenged to put pressure on Goff. Rashan Gary and Preston Smith are the primary edge rushers with Kenny Clark providing pressure from the interior. Karl Brooks has also started to provide more pressure from the line.

The Packers don’t need to sack Goff often but do need to make him rush his throws and disrupt his timing with consistent pressure.

Key Matchups: Number Two, Keep the Offense Balanced

The Packers offense faces a challenge with both Aaron Jones and Emanuel Wilson likely to miss Thursday’s game. That leaves A.J. Dillon as the only experienced running back on the roster.

The Packers have re-signed Patrick Taylor off the Patriots practice squad. Taylor is not a dynamic runner, but he knows the offense and is a serviceable receiver and pass protector.

The Packers also re-signed James Robinson to their practice squad and still have Ellis Merriweather available on the practice squad. Expect one of them to be elevated on Thursday.

Detroit has the fifth-best rushing defense in the league and only allows an average of 89.5-yards per game on the ground.

The Packers don’t need to run the ball for 200 yards in this game, but Matt LaFleur cannot abandon the run and must continue to keep the Lions honest.

The Packers may also use Jayden Reed or one of the other wide receivers on jet sweeps or end arounds to keep the Lions defense off balance.

Packers Key Matchups: Number Three, Contain Amon-Ra St. Brown and Sam LaPorta

Amon-Ra St. Brown leads Detroit with 73 catches this season despite missing one game. Sam LaPorta is a distant second with 50 catches in 10 games.

St. Brown is a possession receiver with great hands and a knack for keeping the sticks moving. His catch percentage is 74.5 and he’s clearly Goff’s favorite target.

The Packers hope Jaire Alexander returns to the lineup after missing another game last week with a shoulder injury. He was projected as a limited participant in practice Monday on the Packers injury report.

The Lions may try to match St. Brown against rookie Carrington Valentine who has played well since taking over as the starter after the trade of Rasul Douglas. St. Brown will present a different kind of challenge for Valentine with his savvy and good hands.

Rookie tight end Sam LaPorta has 50 catches already and provides Goff with a solid second option. At 6’3” and 245, LaPorta will present a challenge to De’Vondre Campbell, Quay Walker, and the Packers safeties. Green Bay hopes to get Rudy Ford back in the lineup for this game.

Key Matchups: Number Four, Protect Jordan Love

The Lions have 23 sacks in 10 games which ranks them 21st in the NFL. Aiden Hutchinson leads the way with 5.5 sacks. He was a disruptive force in the first meeting between these teams. The Green Bay offensive line will have a big challenge when trying to block Hutchinson especially if he lines up against left tackles Yosh Nijman and Rasheed Walker. Zach Tom has done a better job of protecting the quarterback.

Alim McNeil has five sacks rushing from the interior of the Lions defensive line. Elgton Jenkins and Jon Runyan provide the Packers with solid pass protection at guard, and they’ll need to be on top of things if they hope to keep Jordan Love secure in the pocket.

Love has played better especially in the last three games but will face a bigger challenge against a physical Detroit defense. If Love has time to throw, he can take advantage of a very average Lions secondary.

Packers Key Matchups: Number Five, Slow Down the Lions Rushing Attack

Detroit features a two-headed rushing attack that ranks fifth in the league with 136.6-yards per game on the ground.

David Montgomery dominated the Packers defense in the first meeting between the teams. He leads the Lions with 577 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s a physical back who is averaging a healthy 4.9-yards per carry.

Jahmyr Gibbs is more of a speed back. The rookie out of Alabama has 512 yards and five rushing touchdowns and is averaging 5.2-yards per carry.

The Lions alternate between the two runners to keep both fresh. Both are also dangerous receivers out of the backfield.

The Packers defense has struggled to stop the run all season. Clark will need help from Quay Walker, Campbell, and T.J. Slaton to match up with a physical Detroit offensive line.

If the Lions offensive line controls the line of scrimmage, the Packers will be in trouble.

Packers Key Matchups: Number Six, Win the Turnover Battle

The Lions are minus-two in turnover differential, which is low for an 8-2 team. The Packers are minus-three.

The Packers offense can use a shorter field and the defense can overcome some of the mismatches Detroit’s offense has if they can cause turnovers.

If the Packers don’t win the turnover battle, they will struggle to win this game against the Lions in Detroit.


The Lions are a more talented team on paper, and they are playing solid football. They were more physical than the Packers in the first meeting between the teams and the game was over by halftime.

The Packers will have to be physical and smart to win this game. The Lions tend to play well on Thanksgiving and are looking to show off their status as an elite team on national television.

Green Bay has played better in recent games, and this will be a real test for them. They will keep this one close but will likely fall just short.


Lions 27, Packers 21