Packers vs Lions ; This Sunday, the 6-8-1 Green Bay Packers will close out the 100th season in the history of the franchise at Lambeau Field against their NFC North rival, the 5-10 Detroit Lions.
This will mark the 179th occasion of the two teams meeting, a streak spanning back to 1930, when the Lions were called the Portsmouth Titans.
The Packers lead the overall series 100-71-7, but have lost each of the last three contests. A win this Sunday will match Green Bay’s win total from the 2017 season.
Green Bay traveled to Detroit in October for a Week 5 matchup with the Lions earlier this season, which saw the Packers scoreless through two quarters. They mounted an impressive comeback in the second half, tallying 23 points, but falling short in a 23-31 defeat.
It was also a week that saw a long list of what has defined the Packers’ woes all season – special teams debacles. Mason Crosby, who had entered the game 10/11 on field goals, was put in the hot seat for weeks after he went 1/5 on field goal attempts, and 0/1 on extra point attempts.
On Detroit’s first possession, the offense stalled at midfield and was forced to punt to Tramon Williams, whom waved for the fair catch.
As the ball came down, Kevin King lost track of it while being blocked by Lions player Charles Washington, and as the ball bounced, officials ruled the ball had hit King on the rebound, and recovered by the Lions on Green Bay’s one-yard line.
In an interview after the game, King denied that the ball had touched him at all, saying: “I’d seen it actually hit him (Washington).” The officials reviewed it on a Mike McCarthy challenge, and the call on the field stood.
King’s day went from bad to worse, as former Lions, now Eagles WR Golden Tate’s cleat stomped on his face in the middle of the fourth quarter. His lip had to be stitched up, and King would not return to the game, further expanding the list of injuries on his young and snakebitten career.
After the spot at the one-yard line, the Lions scored on a LeGarrette Blount run on their first play. From there, the Packers were unable to finish on offense until the second half, getting as close as four yards away from the end zone without scoring.
Aaron Rodgers put on a quarterback clinic that day, but it wasn’t without its blemishes. Rodgers completed 32 of his 52 attempts for 442 yards and three TDs, but was sacked four times, fumbling twice, both lost to the Lions.
The yardage total was good for second best in Rodgers’ career, and was matched again in Week 16 at the Jets. His best game is a Green Bay franchise record 480 yards, which Rodgers shares with Matt Flynn.
Davante Adams also had a brilliant game, amassing nine receptions for 140 yards and a touchdown. This game also saw the quiet emergence of Equanimeous St. Brown and Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
The pair of rookie WRs saw a healthy amount of snaps for the first time all season, and it paid dividends towards the second half comeback attempt. “MVS” caught seven passes for 68 yards and a touchdown, and “EQ” got in the mix later on with three catches for 89 yards, including a 54-yard catch-and-run with time running out in the fourth.
Blake Martinez continued to prove he is going to be one of the next great MLBs in the NFL with a five-tackle game that included two sacks. The defense overall was not put into good positions, constantly having to work with a short field to defend in the first half, with three Lions drives that started at Green Bay’s 1, 22, and 29-yard lines.
Overall, this was a game the Packers should have won for multiple reasons. A total of 13 attainable points were left off the board by Crosby, and the Packers outgained the Lions, 514 yards to 264.
“Close, but no cigar” might as well have been tattooed on the Packers’ helmets this season.
First-year head coach Matt Patricia’s Detroit Lions squad enters this week with the bottom spot in the NFC North, due in part to their 24th-ranked offense in yards per game. The Lions defense has been solid, though, giving up an average of 345.7 yards per game, good for 12th-best in the league.
Jamaal Williams appears to be the Packers hot hand after last week’s impressive showing, in which he tallied 146 yards on 21 total touches. The Packers will look to continue to use Williams in the backfield and as a receiving target as he remains the fill-in for the injured Aaron Jones.
The injury report is extensive again this week. Kentrell Brice, David Bakhtiari, Davante Adams, Jaire Alexander, and Lucas Patrick are all listed as questionable.
Equanimeous St. Brown is still listed as doubtful after suffering a concussion against the Jets in Week 16. His absence could create more opportunities for fan favorite Jake Kumerow, who caught his first career touchdown last week.
The defense will still depend on scheme and the on-and-off pass rush, given that the secondary is still patched together with the loss of Kevin King, and possibly being without Jaire Alexander.
Offensively, Aaron Rodgers played lights-out against the New York Jets last week, and had shredded the Lions in Week 5 when he was given adequate time to throw.
If the offensive line can keep Rodgers on his feet and special teams problems can be removed from the equation, the Packers will have a great game this Sunday. The only question is if the defense can stand tall against Matt Stafford’s cannon arm.
While every Packers-oriented media outlet continues to buzz about Davante Adams’ potentially owning franchise single-season records after Week 17, there’s a possibility he may not play at all.
Adams is currently listed as questionable on the injury report with a knee injury, but has expressed his desire to play.
If Adams were to play, he needs only two catches to break Sterling Sharpe’s single-season reception franchise record. Adams would also need 134 yards to break Jordy Nelson’s single-season receiving yards franchise record, set in 2014.
This is a high mark to achieve, but not unattainable. Adams has three games in his career above 134 yards, including two games this season, once against Detroit (140), as well as against Seattle (166, single-game high).
With the Packers eliminated from playoff contention for the second consecutive season, there’s no need to rest starters this week. Last week’s shootout against the Jets showed that Aaron Rodgers fears no team, and will look to start again against the 5-10 Lions.
While Aaron did say that the team needed a galvanizing moment, it’s possible that the moment has come, just far too late. Watching Rodgers explode and use his arm and mobility against New York was a great sign for the Packers this Sunday, and for the team of 2019.
This game will also be a final audition for a few names on the roster that will be fighting to earn a contract extension. Kentrell Brice, Clay Matthews, and Randall Cobb will be important to watch for this reason.
With Rodgers removed from the injury report for the first time this season, getting his swagger back, and at Lambeau, I can’t see the Packers not putting on a show to close out season number 100.
Crosby has only missed two kicks since his Week 5 implosion, and in Week 17, he will have a statistically perfect day.
Score pediction: 31-28 Packers
Check out Freddie Boston’s picks for the Packers and every other Week 17 game around the NFL!