The Green Bay Packers are looking to move to 3-1 on Thursday night, as they host the rival Detroit Lions. This is the first divisional opponent Jordan Love will face at home as Green Bay's new starter, and the Packers will be looking for some revenge after Detroit eliminated them from playoff contention last year.
Love is coming off of a thrilling come-from-behind victory over the New Orleans Saints that had a little bit of everything. The young quarterback struggled against the vaunted Saints defense in the first half, before rebounding in the second to lead three straight scoring drives and escape with an 18-17 victory. The Packers were missing several important players, such as running back Aaron Jones, wide receiver Christian Watson and offensive linemen David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins. Green Bay is expected to return a couple of those players on Thursday night, including Love's new No. 1 wideout Watson, who has missed the first three games with a hamstring injury. While his snap count will likely be monitored, this is huge for Green Bay's offense.
Love's performance as a passer through three games has been interesting to say the least. He became just the fifth quarterback in the last 20 years to record 300+ passing yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions in Weeks 1 and 2, but also has the lowest completion percentage (52.4%) and highest off-target rate (16.7%) in the NFL. Still, Love is tied for third in touchdown passes with seven.
As we've learned over the last few weeks, Love wants to throw the ball down the field. He ranks second in passing attempts of 20+ yards (17) and first in air yards/target minus spikes (10.6), per TruMedia. Currently, four Packers rank in the top 45 in air yards/target. This is where Watson comes in.
As a rookie, Watson ranked top 10 in yards per reception (14.9), and No. 7 in air yards per target (13.98). Watson became the first rookie wideout in the Super Bowl era to record eight touchdowns in a four-game span since Randy Moss. He had quite the run in Weeks 10-13 last year, as he recorded 362 yards from scrimmage and averaged 20.87 yards per reception along with those eight scores.
Watson is a deep-ball weapon, and led all rookies in receiving touchdowns of 20+ yards last season, per PFF. Players like Dontayvion Wicks and Jayden Reed have stepped up in Watson's absence, but now, we will get to really see what this Packers offense is capable of.