Sunday, December 30, 2018

2018 NFL Week 17 - Packers vs. Lions Preview & Prediction

Here we are, Packers fans...the end of the season for our Green Bay Packers. Today's game at Lambeau Field will bring a merciful end to a forgettable 100th year of Packers football. At a mediocre 6-8-1 going into today's game vs. the 5-10 Detroit Lions, the Pack will finish the season with a losing record and out of the playoffs for the second straight year. Oy.

If you're wondering where things went off the rails, I highly commend to your reading pleasure (a questionable term in this regard, granted) the article by sports writer Pete Dougherty from yesterday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel entitled The day Aaron Rodgers' split with Mike McCarthy became clear. Quite a compelling analysis of the point early in this season where then-head coach Mike McCarthy lost his QB (that would be one Aaron Rodgers for those unaware) and with him, effectively, the locker room and team...and, ultimately, his head coaching job after 13 years. It was all downhill from there.

Now, to be fair, the Packers were yet once again -- how does this keep happening year after year??? -- plagued by injuries across the board, including a banged up Rodgers in the very first game (Da Bearz!) that seemed to linger in various forms throughout the season. The injuries depleted an already thin talent pool in terms of depth, which revealed that former GM Ted Thompson's last few drafts weren't all that great after all.

Prior to the season, many, including yours truly, predicted the Pack would likely win the NFC North with an 11-5 record and be one of the favorites to contend for the Super Bowl. As good ol' Maxwell Smart would say, "Missed it by that much". (Ancient cultural reference for those who might pick up on that.) So we are where we are in today's season finale.

Packers WR Davante Adams was in sight of setting two franchise records today.
But he is listed as inactive. A great season for Adams regardless.

(Photo: RIck Wood, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

The Prediction

With a game like today, that doesn't mean anything in the scheme of things...Packers will finish in third place in the division ahead of Detroit win or lose...expect Rodgers to start, but this fan hopes they get him out of the game as quickly as possible. Absolutely no need to expose him to injury. He will be without his top receiver, Davante Adams, who was declared inactive for today's game. Adams was in sight of breaking Sterling Sharpe's franchise record for number of receptions in a season and Jody Nelson's record for receiving yards in a season; but both of those will have to wait for another year.

Expect to see what may be the last appearances by some veteran Packers in a Green Bay uniform: LB Clay Matthews and WR Randall Cobb, in particular, are long-time standouts whose contracts and performances point to likely exits in free agency. Thank you, gentlemen, for your great contributions to the Packers over the years. You may be gone next year, but you won't be forgotten.

Because there may well be limited playing time for Rodgers and others, and expanded playing time for younger and more inexperienced members of the team today, it's hard to tell exactly what to expect. It feels like a preseason game in many respects. Still, the Packers are favored by 8 points.

We haven't said much, actually, anything, at all about the Lions. Their season has been more of a train wreck than that of the Packers. While they've won a couple in a row against the Packers -- hard to believe -- we can't imagine that happening today. While both teams supposedly will be playing for nothing more than pride today, that carries a bit more weight when playing at home.

We're calling this game Packers 27 - Lions 20.

Go Pack Go!!!