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Packers vs. Lions: Performances to watch

Running games of both teams could be in spotlight


DETROIT – The Packers are playing their third NFC North opponent in the season's first five weeks. The Lions are playing their first division game of 2018.

Here's what's worth keeping an eye on:

1. Green Bay's ground game: The Packers have gotten steady production from their three-headed backfield of Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery. With the receiving corps banged up, the offense might rely on the running game even more. Jones' workload has increased in the two games he's played, while Montgomery had the most explosive play in the passing game last week with a 43-yard reception.

2. Detroit's ground game: The Lions are committed to running the ball better in 2018 after several years of bottom-of-the-league rankings on the ground. Rookie Kerryon Johnson has changed the look of their offense, averaging 5.7 yards per carry, while veteran pounder LeGarrette Blount is a short-yardage load and Theo Riddick continues to catch passes out of the backfield. Their passing game has been dangerous enough without the benefit of play-action, but now that added element changes the outlook.

3. Youth on the perimeter: However things shake out with the availability, or lack thereof, with receivers Davante Adams (calf), Randall Cobb (hamstring) and Geronimo Allison (concussion), the Packers' trio of rookie draft picks at the position will get their number called to some degree. Marquez Valdes-Scantling overcame an early mistake to make a 38-yard catch on third down in the fourth quarter last week. He, along with J'Mon Moore and Equanimous St. Brown, will need to come through in that fashion for QB Aaron Rodgers.

4. Closer to full strength: The Lions' receiving trio of Golden Tate, Marvin Jones Jr. and Kenny Golladay presents a tough matchup, but for the first time since Week 2, it appears the Packers will have all their options at cornerback, with Kevin King returning from a groin injury and Jaire Alexander practicing this week despite leaving last week's game with a groin issue.

5. Division implications: The NFC North-leading Bears (3-1) are on their bye, and no one can overtake them this week. But with a win, the Packers would stay right on their heels at 3-1-1, while the Lions are looking to get themselves right back into the thick of it, knowing a win would get them to 2-3.