We are a single day away from what will likely end up being the most important game of the 2023 season for the Green Bay Packers. The 4-6 Packers will be on the road for a Thanksgiving morning football game against the rival 8-2 Detroit Lions. In a season where many said the Packers would just be looking to evaluate their roster rather than make a playoff push, this game should set the course for the rest of the season and determine whether or not that is truly the case.
As the 8th seed in the NFC and only one position out of playoffs, if the Packers win they are looking at a real shot to be a wildcard playoff team. If the Packers lose however, the discussion will shift to how badly they lost, and how everyone looked in the loss.
If The Packers Win
If the Packers win, they will improve to 5-6, the Lions will fall to 8-3, and the Lions will be no further from continuing to run away with the NFC North title. The Packers would remain the 8th seed, but they would be much closer to a position where they could realistically take a wildcard spot away from Seattle, who has a tough schedule ahead, or from the Vikings who may begin to struggle after losing to the Denver Broncos last week.
The evaluation of players would seamlessly continue, no doubt with Jordan Love being given, by some, all of the credit for a win whether he deserves it all or not. Players like Carrington Valentine, AJ Dillon, Tucker Kraft, etc. are also likely to receive some praise under this scenario with players such as Jaire Alexander, Luke Musgrave, and Aaron Jones being extremely unlikely to suit up and play on Thursday.
This scenario puts the Packers in a position where they will feel some pressure to get injured players back into the lineup the moment it becomes reasonable in order to continue with a salvageable season. If the Packers pull off a very unlikely upset against the Lions, they will undoubtedly shift their mindset to a push for the postseason.
If The Packers Lose
Let’s be honest; the Packers probably won’t win this game. If they lose they can shift their playoff hopes into a different kind of hope. They can then fully devote themselves to a mindset of growth and development of the team. The purpose of this team ideally shifts with a loss. The purpose would become getting Jordan Love as many opportunities and challenging looks as possible to improve. Getting proven guys like Jaire Alexander fully healthy and allowing backups to see more reps in order to grow and develop.
The focus of the season was expected to be “evaluation,” “growth,” “development,” and all of that stuff, but the team and its fans can officially decide on a focus after this week’s game.
I believe the Lions will win this game 28-17. I think that Jordan Love will have a nice second half, maybe a game ending interception while trying his hardest to mount a comeback, and we’ll be right back in the position of scratching our heads about whether or not he’s the future in Green Bay. For what it’s worth, I think he probably is.
Green Bay’s defense will probably struggle against Detroit’s potent offense, and Goff will ultimately bounce back after a multiple interception performance against Chicago. I wouldn’t count the Packers out completely, but a healthier Packers team was embarrassed by the Lions in Lambeau Field earlier this season, and I don’t see a reason why that outcome would be better for Green Bay at this point in the season.——————
Zack is a college student and cheesehead from California. When he’s not in class or writing, you can find him talking about the Packers on Twitter at @Zack_Upchurch.