The playoff picture for the Green Bay Packers in Week 18 couldn’t be more clear. Win and you’re in. After winning four straight games, the Packers have complete control of their playoff destiny. The most recent came against the Minnesota Vikings, avenging a 23-7 loss back in Week 1. On Sunday, the Packers have a chance to have redemption part two this season against the Detroit Lions.
Given the way the divisional format is created in the NFL, opportunities for redemption in these revenge games have the possibility of happening any season. These opportunities have an even higher chance of being carried out with the majority of head-to-head games being spread out throughout the season. Case in point, the Packers facing the Vikings in Week 1 in Minnesota and not playing each other again until Week 17 in Green Bay.
The first time the two faced off this season, the Packers were clearly outmatched. A multitude of self-inflicted errors paired with a young team resulted in a tough start to the season for Packers fans. However, last Sunday was a different story. The Packers, riding a three-game winning streak, were clearly a more mature team. The result was a defining 41-17 win for the Packers that helped boost morale for the team after getting some much-needed redemption over a division rival.
On Sunday, the Packers get to do it all over again. Back in Week 9 in Detroit, the Packers fell flat offensively and suffered a fifth straight loss during the middle of the season. In the season finale, the Packers have the opportunity to set things right against the Lions.
The main thing that was detrimental to the Packers the first time around against Detroit was the turnover battle. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers finished the game with three interceptions, two of which came within the 5-yard line, while Lions quarterback Jared Goff had just one lone interception.
Those two interceptions potentially left 14 points off of the board while the third interception occurred on the 22-yard line. It’s hard to win games with mistakes like those and mistakes such as these are what the Packers need to avoid on Sunday night.
However, it won’t be that easy. As our own Jared Prugar discussed earlier today, these aren’t the same old Lions that can be overlooked this weekend. Under head coach Dan Campbell, the brand-new Lions have proven themselves to be one of the grittiest teams in football.
Given that the Seattle Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams game earlier on Sunday can decide the postseason fate of the Lions doesn’t mean that there’s a chance this team will roll over. Campbell reiterated that feeling this week while talking to the media, stating: “either we’re playing to get in or we’re playing to be spoiler, and that’s it. So either way, we win.”
With that mindset, the Lions will prove to be a tough opponent on Sunday. While the Packers have improved extremely well since the last meeting with Detroit, the Lions have done the same. The Lions’ offense has totaled over 30 points five times since Week 9’s matchup compared to the Packers who have only reached that mark three times.
The story of this game can be whether or not the Packers can operate efficiently in the red zone and whether or not the Packers can force a turnover on defense. The Packers’ defense has recorded a turnover in every game since Week 9, it’ll be interesting to see if the unit can do it again this weekend. With all the potential implications of this game, this could go down as an all-time NFC North match-up.——————
Kole Noble is a lifelong Packers fan currently living in North Carolina and is a huge NFL Draft nut. You can follow him on twitter at @SlawSportsShow.