Thu Sep 28 12:23pm ET
Field Level Media
The Detroit Lions travel to Green Bay to face the Packers on Thursday night in what shapes up to be a critical early-season showdown between the NFC North rivals.
Both teams enter the kickoff to Week 4 at 2-1 -- the Packers coming from behind to win in New Orleans last Sunday while the Lions beat Atlanta by two touchdowns at home.
Detroit is a rare road favorite at Lambeau Field, with the Lions favored by 2.0 points.
The Lions are averaging 24 points per game and will keep the heat on Jordan Love and the Packers to continue to put points on the board. That's something Green Bay was struggling to do against New Orleans' stout defense until the Saints lost quarterback Derek Carr to an injury last Sunday.
This is a statement game for Detroit, which stamps its legitimacy in the NFC contender picture with a rare win at Lambeau. The Lions' spread line has seen one-sided action at BetMGM, drawing 77 percent of the total bets and 74 percent of the money. Similarly, Detroit has been backed by 70 and 68 percent of the spread-line action, respectively, at BetRivers.
Prediction: Lions 27, Packers 23
The Lions have won five of their past six road games and have covered the spread in 10 consecutive games against NFC North opponents, according to BetRivers. Four of Detroit's past five games have gone under the total points line, but we see that trend reversing Thursday night.
We like the Over on 45 points, which has drawn 73 percent of the money at the book.
The Packers last beat the Lions in Week 2 of the 2021 season, and Detroit ushered in the Love era by beating Aaron Rodgers in the regular-season finale at Lambeau Field last season (20-16).
Lions coach Dan Campbell started the week with a sleepover in his own office Sunday night, burying the idea of enjoying the win over the Falcons for 24 hours. But he gets goosebumps thinking about the atmosphere that awaits the Lions, whose season-ending win in January also was in prime time.
"I told the rookies yesterday, 'Get ready to live, man. This is good stuff here. These are the things that you'll never forget when you're done playing,'" Campbell said.
Love rallied the Packers from a 17-point deficit entering the fourth quarter to beat the Saints, 18-17, in his first home start last week.
KEY PLAYERS READY TO ROLL
Lions running back David Montgomery and left tackle Taylor Decker are expected to play while cornerback Emmanuel Moseley (knee, hamstring) is not, according to the NFL Network. Montgomery, 26, sat out last week with a thigh injury, with rookie Jahmyr Gibbs rushing 17 times for 80 yards in his absence.
Decker, 30, has missed the last two games due to an ankle injury. If Decker holds up, right tackle Penei Sewell can return to his usual position. However, tackle Matt Nelson (ankle) and guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee) were ruled out.
Even if the front five isn't whole, Campbell expects pass protection in front of Jared Goff to be better and for the running game to make progress. After rushing for 2,179 yards last season, Detroit is averaging a full yard less per carry -- 3.6 yards and 24th in the NFL -- through three games in 2023.
For the Packers, running back Aaron Jones and wide receiver Christian Watson are expected to play. Both were listed as questionable on Wednesday with hamstring injuries, though Watson said he plans to make his season debut this week.
Jones, 28, sustained his injury at the end of his 35-yard touchdown catch-and-run in Green Bay's 38-20 season-opening victory and sat out the past two games.
Green Bay's ground game is down as well (3.43 yards per carry ranks 26th), denting the Packers' play-action passing attack.
Watson, 24, hasn't played this season after collecting seven TDs as a rookie. He caught five passes for 104 yards in the Week 18 loss to the Lions last season. Jones had 21 total carries for 73 yards in two losses to the Lions in 2022.
"We've got a lot of ball in front of us and obviously we've got a great test in front of us. It would certainly help us if those two guys were available," Packers coach Matt LaFleur said.
Packers left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee) and left guard Elgton Jenkins (knee) were ruled out.
Behind a makeshift line the past two weeks, Goff is consistently connecting with rookie Sam LaPorta, including a 45-yard touchdown in Week 3. LaPorta has 18 receptions in his first three games, an NFL record for a tight end. He's second on the team to Amon-Ra St. Brown (21-275-1) in catches.
LaPorta has one touchdown through three games, but the rookie being the first player to score on Thursday night (+1500) has been the most popular player prop at BetMGM. St. Brown scoring at any point during the game has been the second most popular at far shorter +115 odds.
10 -- The number of September games Jones has scored a touchdown in out of his past 13 played.
--"Certainly you want these more, because they're for the division. These count. They have a significant impact on being a division winner." --Campbell
--"I know what they're all about. It's a tough, gritty team." --LaFleur
Through three weeks, the Buffalo Bills defense ranks first in opposing passer rating, second in points allowed per game and total yards allowed, and third in passing yards per game. They lead the league with nine takeaways and have proved to be an opportunistic unit. And they've done it all without All-Pro pass-rusher Von Miller (knee), who is on Injured Reserve. However, they'll be facing a Miami Dolphins offense in Week 4 on Sunday that ranks first in the NFL in points, total yards, passing yards and passer rating. Seven different Bills defenders have registered at least one sack this year, tying for the most in the NFL, and they are tied for second as a defense with 12 QB takedowns. Buffalo's defense has been awesome so far, but fantasy managers may want to fade them in starting lineups this week.
Detroit Lions offensive tackle Taylor Decker (ankle), who is listed as questionable for the Thursday night divisional showdown against the Green Bay Packers, is expected to play. Meanwhile, cornerback Emmanuel Moseley (hamstring, knee), who is also questionable, is not expected to play. Decker has missed the team's last two games, but it looks as though the 29-year-old will be returning in Week 4 for the Lions' offensive line after he was limited in practice all week. Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee) has been ruled out, so Decker's return will be welcomed news for the Lions offense as they look to win a crucial early season divisional matchup with the 2-1 Packers.
Baltimore Ravens running back Gus Edwards (concussion) cleared the league's concussion protocol and was able to practice in full on Wednesday, according to head coach John Harbaugh. Unless Edwards has a setback on Thursday or Friday, he'll be cleared to play in Week 4 in Cleveland against the Browns. Justice Hill (toe) missed another practice and could miss his second straight game this Sunday while dealing with turf toe, so Edwards should be Baltimore's clear lead back this weekend. In the Week 3 overtime loss to the Indianapolis Colts, the 28-year-old Edwards had 11 carries for 51 yards. Melvin Gordon III will also have a role in this backfield if Hill misses another game, but Edwards will have the most fantasy upside.
The New Orleans Saints are sticking with quarterback Jameis Winston under center for the Week 4 game against the Tampa Bay Rays with Derek Carr (shoulder) hurt. Head coach Dennis Allen said Wednesday he never considered Taysom Hill an option for this Sunday's game. Winston wasn't excellent in relief of Carr in the Week 3 loss to the Green Bay Packers, but he went 10-for-16 for 101 passing yards. Unfortunately, the first five possessions with Winston resulted in punts, and the final possession ended in a missed field goal. The 29-year-old could fare better with a full week to prepare as the team's starter against Tampa and he will be in play in fantasy leagues that start two quarterbacks.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Derek Carr (shoulder) is considered week-to-week with a sprained AC joint that he suffered in the Week 3 loss to the Green Bay Packers. He was unable to practice on Wednesday and said that he won't return until he's capable of performing at his expected level. "If I physically just can't play, then I can't play. But if I'm out there, that means I'm, you know, there's no fear of re-injury, there's no fear of this, there's no fear of being able to help the football team. And so, I'm going to do everything I can to be out there but never hurt the team at the same time," Carr said. Carr isn't expected to play in Week 4 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with Jameis Winston fully expected to make his first start of the season after relieving Carr last Sunday.
Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones (hamstring) is expected to return to the lineup on Thursday Night Football against the Detroit Lions. Jones suffered the injury on a long touchdown catch in Week 1, which forced him to the sideline for Weeks 2 and 3. According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the Packers will be cautious with both Jones and wide receiver Christian Watson (hamstring) in their returns. If Jones plays as expected, the veteran ball carrier will likely be on a snap count. That, coupled with a matchup against a strong Detroit run defense, makes Jones a low-end RB2 for the week.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Christian Watson (hamstring) is expected to make his season debut tonight against the Detroit Lions. The second-year wideout suffered a hamstring injury before the start of the regular season and has not been able to suit up yet. According to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the Packers will be cautious with both Watson and running back Aaron Jones (hamstring) in their returns. The 24-year-old is a big play waiting to happen. He scored nine times as a rookie in just 14 games. This week, Watson is better off on your fantasy football bench with the limited snaps he may receive.
Detroit Lions running back David Montgomery (thigh) is expected to return to game action against the Green Bay Packers, according to NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. The veteran running back suffered the injury in Week 2 against the Seahawks and missed Week 3. Montgomery was listed as limited in practice all week. If he's ready for his normal workload, Montgomery will split touches with rookie Jahmyr Gibbs in the Detroit backfield. Consider him a low-end RB2 in Week 4.
Detroit Lions RB David Montgomery (thigh) is expected to miss the game Thursday, Sept. 28, in Week 4.
Fantasy Spin: Jahmyr Gibbs is ranked as an RB1 this week and should see a heavy dosage of touches.
Green Bay Packers RB Aaron Jones (hamstring) is expected to play in Week 4 Thursday, Sept. 28.
Fantasy Spin: Jones rushed for a 9-41-1 line and caught two balls for 86 yards and another score before pulling a hammy in Week 1. He'll be a great RB2 against the Detroit Lions this week.
Washington Commanders tight end Logan Thomas (concussion) practiced in a limited fashion on Wednesday, and he expects to play in Week 4's divisional clash with the Philadelphia Eagles, Sam Fortier of The Washington Post reports. The 32-year-old experienced a concussion amid Week 2's comeback win over the Denver Broncos, and he did not participate in practice at any point before Week 3 before being made inactive. But Thomas feels like he is ready to go on Sunday, and he'll look to build on his 6/65/1 receiving line on 11 targets covering roughly a game and a half in 2023. Cole Turner filled in modestly in last Sunday's spot start, corralling four of his seven looks for 35 yards. Thomas would be hard to ignore as a decent streaming candidate against an Eagles defense that has given up the second-most fantasy points to his position.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Quez Watkins (hamstring) was listed as a non-participant on Wednesday's estimated injury report, per ESPN. The 25-year-old left Week 2's Thursday night game versus the Minnesota Vikings with a hamstring injury and hasn't been able to practice ever since. Until he gets back on the field to some degree, it's fair to consider Watkins on the wrong side of questionable for Week 4's divisional tilt with the Washington Commanders. Olamide Zaccheaus, who came free for a 34-yard touchdown catch during Week 3's Monday Night Football, would join three-receiver sets once again if Watkins is not able to play. Neither of which belong in fantasy conversations due to Philadelphia's concentrated passing attack toward A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, and Dallas Goedert.
New Orleans Saints tight end Foster Moreau (ankle) did not practice on Wednesday, per Nick Underhill of NewOrleans.Football. The 26-year-old got in a limited session last Thursday before being listed as doubtful and ultimately ruled out for Week 3's affair with the Green Bay Packers. Moreau owns just two catches for 20 yards through two outings with both receptions coming in Week 2. If the fifth-year veteran is inactive once again in Week 4's date with the division-rival Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New Orleans' tight end group would remain more condensed toward Juwan Johnson and Jimmy Graham, the latter of whom hit paydirt last Sunday.
Miami Dolphins tight end Durham Smythe (hamstring) was a limited participant in Wednesday's practice, per David Furones of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. The 28-year-old could be having his reps managed, considering he didn't have to leave last Sunday's game at any point. Smythe drew a lone target for a 15-yard catch amid Week 3's 70-point bonanza versus the Denver Broncos despite Jaylen Waddle's (concussion) absence. While the sixth-year man could get more attention if Waddle cannot get cleared for Week 4's potential shootout with the Buffalo Bills, Smythe would still only be worth a shot in the deepest of TE-premium fantasy leagues.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver River Cracraft (shoulder) is likely facing an extended absence due to a shoulder injury he sustained in Week 3 versus the Denver Broncos, per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. The 28-year-old suffered the setback during the second quarter of last Sunday's game, posting one catch for 13 yards before exiting. Cracraft entered that one primed for an expanded role without Jaylen Waddle (concussion). Miami's receiving corps could be razor-thin behind Tyreek Hill in Week 4 against the Buffalo Bills if Waddle cannot pass concussion protocol ahead of play with Erik Ezukanma (neck) also not practicing on Wednesday. Braxton Berrios could be on the deep-league radar in a possible shootout depending on the level of availability of the Dolphins' receivers.
Cincinnati Bengals tight end Irv Smith Jr. (hamstring) did not practice on Wednesday, per Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic. The 25-year-old missed Week 3 versus the Los Angeles Rams with a hamstring injury, and Wednesday's lack of activity doesn't spell a good start toward a possible return. Smith, who has caught five of his seven targets for 27 yards in two games this year, was a limited practice participant last Thursday and Friday before being ruled out on Monday. If the former second-round pick is unable to suit up once again for Week 4 against the Tennessee Titans, expect slot man Tyler Boyd to act as the main beneficiary after recording 17 targets in the past two contests.
Houston Texans left tackle Josh Jones (hand) is expected to miss the Week 4 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers due to a hand injury, according to league sources. Meanwhile, Pro Bowl left tackle Laremy Tunsil (knee) remains sidelined with a lingering knee injury and is on track to miss his third straight game. The Texans could go with second-year pro Austin Deculus at left tackle, or they could choose to move George Fant to the left side where he has a considerable amount of experience. Elevating Geron Christian from the practice squad is another option. Currently, Deculus is preparing to protect rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud's blind side this Sunday. It could translate into a long day for Stroud and the Texans' offense against Steelers pass-rushers T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith.
Los Angeles Chargers outside linebacker Joey Bosa (hamstring, toe) and safety Derwin James Jr. (hamstring) both missed practice on Wednesday, as well as linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr. (groin). Bosa is rarely 100 percent healthy and is now dealing with two injuries, but as long as he's able to return to practice by Friday, he should be able to suit up this weekend in a divisional showdown against the Las Vegas Raiders. Bosa has three sacks and six tackles (five solo) so far in three games and is in play as a starting pass-rusher in IDP formats if he's active against Vegas this Sunday. James was injured in the Week 3 win over the Vikings, but he, too, will have a chance to play if he can return to practice in the next two days.
The Denver Broncos are bringing in former New Orleans Saints wide receiver Tre'Quan Smith (groin) for a visit after he was released by the Saints on Tuesday. Smith played five seasons for the Saints, with four coming under head coach Sean Payton. The 27-year-old former third-round pick by the Saints in 2018 out of Central Florida had 131 receptions in 196 targets for 1,764 yards and 18 touchdowns in his five years in the Big Easy. The Broncos will put Smith through a physical before potentially signing him after the Saints placed him on Injured Reserve to begin the 2023 season. Payton is familiar with Smith from their time together in New Orleans, but he'll be a long shot to return any kind of fantasy value if he ends up signing with the Broncos.
New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh has been supportive of quarterback Zach Wilson despite his struggles under center through the first three weeks of the season, but that could change in a hurry. "We all acknowledge that he has to play better. He definitely needs to get better," Saleh said. Wilson led the Jets to a win in the season opener over Buffalo after Aaron Rodgers tore his Achilles on the first series of the game, but he's been downright bad in two games since, going 30-for-63 (47.6%) for 327 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions while taking six sacks. Word out of New York is that Jets players are frustrated that the team continues to stick with Wilson despite his struggles, so if Saleh doesn't want to lose the locker room, he might have to make a switch sooner than later if Wilson falls flat in Week 4 on Sunday night against the Kansas City Chiefs.