The last time the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers met, both teams had NFC North title aspirations.
The Lions led that October 14 game 22-13 in the fourth quarter before some questionable calls, amongst other head scratching moves, allowed the Packers to kick a last second field goal and earn a 23-22 victory. That win improved Green Bay to 5-1 while Detroit dropped to 2-2-1.
The two teams have gone in opposite directions since that game at Lambeau Field.
Green Bay has clinched the NFC North while Detroit has wrapped up last place in the division and one of the three worst records in the NFL.
The Packers (12-3) have won four straight games and have a lot to play for in Week 17. A win would clinch a first-round bye for Green Bay and a win against Detroit and a loss by San Francisco would give the Packers the top overall seed in the NFC and home field advantage throughout the conference playoffs.
Regardless of the outcome, Green Bay is headed to the postseason for the first time since the 2016 season.
This incarnation of the Packers is doing it a little differently than teams of old.
While Aaron Rodgers is having a great year (3,679 yards, 24 touchdowns and three interceptions), it is not like the years he’s had in the past.
Rodgers doesn’t have to do it all by himself as he has a steady run game and great defense.
Aaron Jones leads the NFL in rushing touchdowns with 16. He also is only 16 yards away from 1,000 on the season and would become the first Packer running back to hit that milestone since Eddie Lacy in 2014.
Green Bay is the eighth best scoring defense as they are allowing 19.5 points per game.
They are led by one of the best linebacking corps in the NFL and are 13th in the league in team sacks. Za’Darius Smith is sixth in the league with 13.5 sacks and Preston Smith is eighth with 12.
They also are fourth in the NFL with 16 interceptions and have a lockdown cornerback in Kevin King, who is tied for fourth in the league with five interceptions.
The Lions (3-11-1), on the other hand, have lost eight straight games and have went into a tailspin since that loss to the Packers.
A loss in this game would give Detroit their worst record since going 2-14 in 2009.
The Lions have struggled in all phases of the game.
Their offense is 20th in the league with 21.4 points per game while their defense is 26th in points allowed with 26.7.
While the team was humming along with Matthew Stafford under center, it hasn’t been the same since he went down with a back injury. The Lions have tried to replace him with Jeff Driskel (who also went down with an injury) and David Blough.
In the four games Blough has started, the Lions have averaged 15.3 points.
The undrafted rookie from Purdue started off hot in the first quarter of his first NFL start on Thanksgiving Day, but has struggled mightily since then.
The one constant for this Detroit offense has been wide receiver Kenny Golladay. He leads the NFL with 11 receiving touchdowns and is ninth in the league in yards with 1,118.
If he gets 82 yards in the season finale, he will join Herman Moore and Calvin Johnson as the only receivers in team history with 1,200 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns in a season.
As for the defensive side of the ball, the Lions have been atrocious.
While ranking 26th in points allowed, they are also 29th in yards allowed as they are allowing nearly 400 yards per game.
The team also doesn’t get pressure on the quarterback as they rank 28th in sacks as they only have 27 as a team.
Detroit also ranks dead last in the league with only six interceptions.
But now time for the prediction.
This is the fourth consecutive season the Lions have hosted the Packers in the season finale. While Detroit has won two straight against Green Bay in the last game of the season, there wasn’t much on the line in those contests as both teams were out of playoff contention.
With the Packers having so much to play for, I believe this game could get ugly quick.
Aaron Rodgers versus David Blough does not seem like an ideal matchup for the Lions.
Rodgers should pick apart this poor pass defense and should have a clean pocket against this poor pass rush.
Blough, on the other hand, will most likely be under duress all game and will probably be baited into a turnover or two.
Jones should also have a good day on the ground and this Packer offense should be in for a big day.
I think Green Bay will win this game by a landslide and improve to 13-3 and clinch a first-round bye. Detroit will lose their ninth straight game, fall to 3-12-1 and look forward to April and their top three selection in the 2020 draft.
Packers 34, Lions 16.
All stats are courtesy of ESPN.com.