Saturday, December 27, 2014

NFL Week 17: Packers vs. Lions Preview and Predictiion

First, Packer fans, apologies for not posting a post-game review of last week's win in Tampa; holiday commitments during this last week left no time...that's my story and I'm sticking to it. But for purpose of closure on that game...the Packers won. Now, let's move on.

This weekend's game sees the Detroit Lions coming to Lambeau Field to battle the Green Bay Packes for the NFC North Division Championship. Sunday is winner take all. Well, sort of. Regardless of the game results, both teams are in the playoffs. It's now just a matter of how good it will get in that regard for the winner of the game and how bad it will get for the loser. It's about winning it to secure a higher seed in the playoffs, including a possible first-round bye and perhaps -- if things fall a certain way -- even home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Packers made that latter option much more difficult for themselves with that loss in Buffalo. Win there and win out in the regular season...ah, to dream of things as they might have been.

As it is, the Packers will have their hands full against arguably (or not) the best Lions team to visit Lambeau in the last 20-some years. This Lions team has weapons on offense and defense; we won't enumerate them know who they are by now. The Lions have finally proven to themselves that they can come from behind to win. In fact, this season they've overcome second-half deficits five times before winning. They won't come apart if they get down.

On the Packers part, they have special teams issues that are a real concern, untimely penalties and missed tackles that hurt them on occasion. Well, so do most teams. It's football. But the Packers also have Aaron Rodgers, albeit likely a somewhat less mobile version than we have seen recently due to his calf injury from last week. The Pack has a battering ram running back in Eddie Lacey, an offensive line that is opening holes for the running backs and protecting Rodgers in the pocket, an ability that will be much needed against the Lions defensive line and pass rush schemes. The Pack's receivers are among the best in the league. The Packers defense -- so much criticized especially in the early part of the season -- has come around pretty well: it hasn't given up a touchdown in the last two games (remember that the only TD given up in the Buffalo game was on a kickoff return).

The Prediction
We could spend a lot of time here reviewing all sorts of stats to see which team may come out on top. Here's just one: the Pack is currently favored by 7-1/2 points at the time of this writing. The Packers will have to play a nearly flawless game to cover that kind of spread; they haven't played a flawless game in at least a month or more, leading some pundits to suggest that the team has peaked early. I don't think so. I think they just need to assert themselves once again as the best team in the NFC. They have the talent. The question is whether or not they will put it all together at the same time.

I'm not sure I can answer that last question. We'll just have to wait to see how things unfold on Sunday. Many are looking at the first meeting between these two teams to suggest that the Lions defense will control the game at the line of scrimmage versus the Packers offense. A reminder to all who go that route that the line was missing Bryan Bulaga at right tackle and was just a work in progress overall, including a rookie center just starting to figure things out. The line is settled in and performing at high level, barring injury during the game.

Anyway, as for us at, we're calling it 27-24 Packers.

Go Pack Go!!!