Inside the Article:
The Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers will face off on Sunday night to secure the final playoff spot in the NFC. The Packers have had a surprising surge, winning four straight games, including victories against the Minnesota Vikings and Miami Dolphins. On the other hand, the Lions have had a rocky start to the season, beginning 1-6 before turning things around to have a chance at the playoffs. The Lions will need to win and hope the Seattle Seahawks lose to the Los Angeles Rams to make it into the postseason. The Lions have already defeated the Packers this season, winning 15-9 back in November.
Sunday Night Football: Detroit (8-8) at Green Bay (8-8)
Kickoff: Sunday, Jan. 8 at 8:20 p.m. ET
Live Stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
Spread: Packers -4.5
What to watch
- Can the Detroit Lions' defense step up against the Packers? Detroit's defense has struggled this season, ranking in the bottom four in most major categories. However, they have excelled in takeaways, with 13 in their last seven victories. The Packers will need to take care of the ball at home.
- The matchup between Lions quarterback Jared Goff and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be worth watching. Goff has had a strong season, throwing 17 touchdowns and only one interception in the Lions' recent 7-2 stretch. Conversely, Rodgers has had a surprising season, with the Packers' run game and rookie wide receiver Christian Watson taking pressure off him.
- The Detroit Lions will look to sweep the season series against the Packers, a feat they have not accomplished since 1991. Detroit safety DeShon Elliott has said the team feels slighted by the Packers and wants to prove themselves.
Breaking down the numbers
- The Lions' defense has struggled this season, ranking 32nd in total yards allowed, 29th in rushing yards allowed, 30th in passing yards allowed, and 30th in third-down conversions allowed.
- The Packers recently had a strong offense, averaging 29.8 points per game during their four-game win streak.
- Lions quarterback Jared Goff has a passer rating of 108.4 this season, while Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has a passer rating of 105.4.
- Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown has 100 receptions this season.
- The Packers have 20 giveaways this season, while the Lions have 19 takeaways.
What they are saying
- “He's a Hall of Famer, but I just don't respect the way he's been talking about my guys all year,” Lions safety DeShon Elliott said of Aaron Rodgers. “And the way that team views us. So we're going to go out there and prove something.”
- “We're in a good position, but it's up to us,” Lions quarterback Jared Goff said. “We can't rely on anyone else to do anything for us. We've got to take care of our own business, and that's what we plan on doing.”
- “We're going to try to get that win and then be excited about the playoffs and see where we go from there,” Aaron Rodgers said.
Despite the Detroit Lions playing much better football than the Packers for the second half of the season, they are walking into this game as an underdog. During their four-game win streak, the Packers have had a solid offensive surge in recent games, averaging 29.8 points per game. On the other hand, the Lions have struggled defensively this season and will need their strongest performance to date if they overcome Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
I think this game will be close and come down to the final minutes of the game. This is usually when Aaron Rodgers shines, so game management will be the key to victory for the Lions, an area that head coach Dan Campbell has struggled with this season.
All that being said, I think Detroit wants this more. Magic will finally happen, and the Detroit Lions will squeak into the Playoffs by the skin of their teeth.
Prediction: Lions 31, Packers 28