Green Bay, Detroit to play for NFC North division crown
The Green Bay Packers and Detroit will play for all the marbles and the NFC North division title Sunday.
Both teams have playoff spots locked up, and are playing for division bragging rights and playoff seeding. The winner of the game will clinch the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs. If Green Bay wins and Seattle loses at St. Louis, the Packers could even wind-up with the No.1 seed and home-field advantage.
Last year Green Bay captured the NFC North division title in Week 17 in a win over Chicago on the road, when Aaron Rodgers threw a touchdown to Randall Cobb on fourth-and-eight. It was Rodgers' first game since breaking his collarbone last season.
Earlier this season, Detroit beat the Packers at Ford Field, 19-7. Detroit held Green Bay to 223 total yards of offense, and Rodgers to 162 yards and a touchdown. Rodgers didn't throw an interception, and was sacked twice.
Following its Week 3 loss to Detroit and a 1-2 start, Rodgers told ESPN Milwaukee and Packers fans on his weekly radio show to 'R-E-L-A-X.'
Now, Green Bay is coming off a win on the road last week against Tampa Bay and Detroit beat Chicago on the road last week as well. Both teams are 11-4.
For the Packers, Rodgers played sick and with an injured calf last week. Green Bay head coach Mike McCarthy told the media Friday that he isn't worried about Rodgers' calf injury heading into Sunday's game.
History's on the line Sunday for Green Bay and Detroit. The Packers have won 22 straight home games against the Lions, dating back to December 15, 1991. And Green Bay is a perfect 12-0 in Week 17 games.
Green Bay is 7-0 at home this season, while Detroit is 4-3 on the road. Rodgers hasn't thrown an interception at home since 2012, and the Packers are averaging 41.1 points per game (most in NFL) and 425.6 yards per game (second in NFL).
For Detroit, their run game is playing exceptionally well right now. The Lions are holding opposing backs to 63.8 rushing yards per game this season. For the Packers, Eddie Lacy has scored a touchdown, is averaging at least 4.7 yards per carry, and hasn't rushed for less than 69 yards in five of his last six games. So the Lions run defense against Lacy might be the 'X-Factor' Sunday.
Matthew Stafford has struggled as of late for Detroit, and has thrown for three interceptions and no touchdowns in his last three road games.
Joique Bell and Reggie Bush each scored a rushing touchdown last week while rushing for a combined 128 yards on the ground.
Green Bay's defense is also coming off last week where they sacked Tampa Bay seven times and intercepted Josh McCown once. Overall, the Packers held the Buccaneers to 109 yards of total offense.
Detroit will also be without its starting center Dominic Raiola, who was suspended a game for stomping on Bears defensive lineman Ego Ferguson last week. Rookie Travis Swanson will snap the ball to Stafford on Sunday.
Packers: Davon House did not practice yesterday for Green Bay. T.J. Lang, Clay Matthews, Rodgers, Mike Neal and Josh Sitton were all limited Thursday in practice.
Lions: Nick Fairley did not practice yesterday for Detroit. Calvin Johnson was limited in practice, while Bell and Mohammed Seisey were full participants in practice Thursday.
The Packers host the Lions at Lambeau Field at 3:25 p.m. on Fox for the NFC North division title. The game can also be heard right here on ESPN 99.1.
*Green Bay also had five players named to the Pro Bowl this week; John Kuhn, Matthews, Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, and Sitton.
**Listen to Jeff Thurn's interview with Anthony Becht from earlier this week on Overtime, as the two of them talk about the Packers and its chances in the playoffs.
Sam Tastad will have pre-and-post game report for the Packers all season long. Follow him on Twitter @samtastad and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.