Everyone around here probably assumes the Green Bay Packers will just roll into Detroit and pound the Lions on Sunday. These are the Lions, after all.
We’ve seen this movie before.
Maybe that will happen, but the Lions have a much better chance with Darius Slay on the field. To us, Slay — not Matthew Stafford, Marvin Jones, Ziggy Ansah or anyone else — is the most important player for the Lions.
Slay is a bonafide No. 1 corner. He sat out the Lions’ loss to the Cowboys with an injury and Dallas threw for four touchdowns. Of course, not all of those would have been Slay’s responsibility, but since Dez Bryant caught two of them, you can expect his presence would have made this a tighter game. As it was, it got out hand in the second half and the Cowboys won, 42-21.
In Slay’s absence, the Lions were forced to rely on Nevin Lawson — who isn’t very good to begin with — and Johnson Bademosi. It’s okay if you’ve never heard of Bademosi. He’s a former undrafted free agent for played four seasons for the Browns before signing with the Lions this year. He has just three career starts, all with the Lions in 2016.
You can see that the Cowboys went after Bademosi in that game, since he led the team with five solo tackles.
The Packers come into this game with arguably the hottest quarterback in the NFL right now in Aaron Rodgers. He hasn’t finished two of the last three games he played because they got out of hand.
And they got out of hand because Rodgers and his receivers were finding the end zone early and often.
If you’re a Lions fan — and we know you’re not, nobody is — the good news is Slay returned to practice on Wednesday. The bad news is the injury he’s recovering from is a hamstring injury. It’s not easy to play corner, where someone else is dictating your movements, with a hamstring injury.
It’s quite possible the Lions sat Slay against Dallas to get him healthy for the bigger game with Green Bay. It’s also possible he won’t be fully healthy.
Either way, the Lions need this guy, more than anyone, to play well on Sunday to win. If Detroit can’t slow down Aaron Rodgers — and they might not be able to slow him down even with Slay on the field — their only chance is to win in a shootout.