Packers, Lions square off in pivotal NFC North match-up

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Packers Brett Hundley vs New Orleans

GREEN BAY, WI – OCTOBER 22: Brett Hundley #7 of the Green Bay Packers drops back to pass during the second quarter against the New Orleans Saints at Lambeau Field on October 22, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

From either perspective, it’s a must-win NFC North division game.
 
The 3-4 Lions are reeling, having lost three straight games coming into Lambeau Field for tonight’s renewal of the NFL’s oldest continuous rivalry with Green Bay.
 
The 4-3 Packers are transitioning, trying to stay one game behind division-leading 6-2 Minnesota with Brett Hundley making his second career start.  His first in a home loss to New Orleans two weeks ago showed flashes of potential, along with the limitations of his inexperience as the Green Bay offense sputtered in the game’s final 30 minutes.
 
The Packers return to action after their much-needed bye week with a healthier team and a more prepared starting quarterback, who spent the hiatus in Green Bay to put in extra time with the coaching staff and film study.
 
Hundley did get to enjoy the Wisconsin tradition of deer hunting with teammate Jeff Janis, and even gutted his prize shot on the Packers receiver’s property.
 
Former Chicago head coach and ESPN analyst Mike Ditka said this game will be a gut-check game for the Packers.
 
“Aaron Rodgers means so much to the Green Bay Packers–I think he’s the best quarterback in football,” Ditka said.  “Everyone says you rally around Hundley, but he can’t do the things Rodgers did that elevated his teammate’s play and took pressure off defense and special teams.  Heck no, you can’t replace a future hall of famer and what he meant to the team.
 
“Mike McCarthy knows what he has and how to adjust—you can’t put it all on an inexperienced quarterback.  Green Bay’s defense and special teams have to stand up, the offensive line has to protect Hundley, and they have to run the ball more and get it in the hands of their receivers like Nelson and Adams.”
 
Jory Nelson, Davante Adams, and Randall Cobb combined for just five receptions and 40 yards in the Saints game, but another week of practice with their new quarterback to foster chemistry will help.
 
“Rome wasn’t built in a day—it takes time and repetition,” Ditka said.  “They are used to Rodgers throwing them the football.  Now it’s Hundley and the more he plays the better the timing will be with his receivers.  What really will help him against the Detroit defense is a running game.”
 
That’s where Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery come in.  And the Lions defense will no doubt load up the box to limit Jones, who rushed for 131 yards and a touchdown against New Orleans.
 
The Packers’ starting offensive line will be intact after the bye week and the defense receives a boost with the return of safety Morgan Burnett and the activation of rookies Vince Biegel and Montravius Adams to the roster. 
 
“Someone is going to get a big division win Monday night,” Ditka said.  “And the other one is going to be in a big hole.”
 
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It’s a must win for Green Bay to keep pace with Viking.  At home against a beatable opponent that struggles in red zone.  After bye week, Packers are a rested team with extra prep time for Hundley and to game plan for Detroit.  This contest will reveal a lot about 2017 team’s resolve without #12.
Packers 20, Lions 17

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