Bet Big: Lions May Be Without Stafford, Johnson on Sunday
If you’re a betting man or woman, now might be the time to consider placing a large wager on the Green Bay Packers in their contest with the Detroit Lions, this Sunday.
As of today, it seems probable that the Lions could be without their two biggest offensive weapons when they face the Packers. Neither quarterback Matthew Stafford or receiver Calvin Johnson practiced for the Lions on Thursday. Stafford took limited reps on Wednesday and Johnson hasn’t practiced this week. Both are dealing with knee injuries.
The Lions were non-commital about Stafford’s availability this Sunday.
“Right now, we’re just planning on any scenario,” offensive coordinator Scott Linehan said. “Obviously, all three [quarterbacks] took work yesterday, and we gave a number of reps, obviously, to Daunte and Drew today. Just getting ready. Status quo. The same. We’ll wait till Sunday for where we’re going to be officially.”
Meanwhile, Johnson said he’s feeling better, but wouldn’t guarantee that he would play.
“We’re still playing it by ear,” Johnson said.
Daunte Culpepper will start if Stafford cannot play. Derrick Williams would start for Johnson. Dennis Northcutt and John Standeford would also get more reps at receiver.
If the Lions, who are 13.5 point underdogs, play without Stafford and Johnson it’s likely to be a long afternoon for them in Lambeau Field. Johnson, who has 22 receptions for 325 yards, draws constant double teams. Stafford has thrown for 894 yards in four games, but has started to demonstrate real playmaking ability after some early rookie mistakes.
But back to my betting advice for a moment. In addition to the injuries to Stafford and Johnson, the Lions are terrible in the secondary. Cornerback Eric King was placed on injured reserve earlier this week, and the Lions’ remaining cornerbacks have been shuffled in and out of the starting lineup because of poor performance. Scout.com details just how bad the Lions’ secondary is.
The Lions allowed opponents to complete 68.4 percent of their passes and post a 110.9 combined passer rating last year, worst in the NFL in both categories.
This year, the Lions are allowing opponents to complete 73.3 percent of their passes and post a 119.7 combined passer rating. Again, they’re worst in the NFL in both categories.
Consider the NFL records for individual quarterbacks. The highest completion percentage ever in a season was 70.55 (Cincinnati’s Ken Anderson in 1982). The highest passer rating ever in a season was 121.1 (Indianapolis’ Peyton Manning in 2004).
If the Packers can do one thing, it’s throw the football and Aaron Rodgers must be salivating at the prospect of facing the Lions secondary this week.
We’ll continue to keep an eye on Stafford and Johnson, but even if they play this game has the makings of a Packers blowout.
Sarah is a writer and editor living in the Twin Cities, a lifelong Packers fan and an ardent supporter of all things anti-Vikings.