Lions scramble to prepare to play Packers for division lead on short week

DETROIT (AP) — Dan Campbell isn't the type of coach to hype up one game on his team's schedule.

The Detroit Lions' coach is a firm believer that the most important game is the next one, not the sexier matchup a few weeks down the road.

This week, though, the next game up and the notable opponent are one and the same — Detroit will face the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Thursday night. Both teams are 2-1 after wins on Sunday.

“We had a few things we had to clean up, so we just hit that quickly, but we know we can't spend time on Atlanta,” Campbell said. “Our coaches watched as quickly as they could, and now everything gets focused on Green Bay.”

The rivals will be playing for the early lead in the NFC North. Add in the memories of the Lions knocking the Packers out of the playoffs on Sunday night of Week 18 last season, and this game is going to have an edge.

“There's always something special about going to Lambeau — I told our rookies they are going to enjoy this,” Campbell said. “It doesn't get any better than this when it comes to atmosphere.”


The Lions held Atlanta to 183 yards of offense on Sunday, the lowest total of Campbell's three seasons as coach and only the second time his team has held an opponent under 200. Detroit had seven sacks for a total loss of 62 yards.

“We were around the quarterback all day,” he said.

The rush defense also stepped up. The Falcons finished with 44 yards on the ground, and Detroit has yet to allow an opponent to top 100, a big improvement over recent seasons.


Last year, the Lions averaged 170 yards rushing in their first three games, scoring five touchdowns. They haven't been terrible this season, but that average is down to 113 yards and they only have three rushing TDs.

With David Montgomery (thigh) likely to miss a second straight game, the Lions miss the big-play abilities of D'Andre Swift, who's now with Philadelphia. Rookie Jahmyr Gibbs gained 80 yards on 17 carries against the Falcons, but hasn't established himself as a receiving threat.


Rookie safety Brian Branch had 11 solo tackles on Sunday, including three for losses, and everyone around the Lions still remembers his one-handed pick-6 in the season-opening win at Kansas City.


Jared Goff has been fine so far, but he threw a key interception for the second straight game, something he wasn't doing during Detroit's hot streak in the second half of last year. It isn't a problem yet, but the Lions don't have enough margin for error to survive many turnovers.


The Lions were already short on the offensive line with Taylor Decker (ankle) and Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee) missing Sunday's game and unlikely to be able to return for a Thursday game. Key reserve Matt Nelson (ankle) needs surgery on the injury he sustained against Atlanta, so Campbell and his staff will be patching holes as quickly as they can.


26 — The Lions have put up at least 300 yards of offense in each of their last 26 games, dating to the middle of the 2021 season. That has given them consistent opportunities to win games, even if they haven't always been able to pull them out.


Get ready as quickly as possible for Green Bay — Detroit's third prime-time game in its last five regular-season contests. They beat the Packers to finish last season and the Chiefs to start this one, so maybe they enjoy the extra exposure.



Dave Hogg, The Associated Press