Motown Miracle Part Deux

Here we go! Week 17 will decide the NFC North title winner. Straight up! The Detroit Lions (9-6) will host the visiting Green Bay Packers (9-6) at Ford Field in the final countdown for one of the most exciting division races in the NFL this season.

These two teams, however, are going in opposite directions in terms of momentum. Green Bay has won five straight in response to a four game losing streak which saw them drop to 4-6. Meanwhile, Detroit enters the game having lost their last two games. Here is how Green Bay can continue their winning ways and bring the division title back home:

Pressure Stafford

This game will come down to how well the front 7 can harass Matthew Stafford. Not necessarily racking up sacks, but getting enough pressure on him to make him scramble in the pocket and perform his hop, skip, jump, sidearm throws. Clay Matthews and Nick Perry are the ones to do so. while neither one of them is playing at 100%, they do have momentum after powering through their injuries against Minnesota Vikings last weekend, and playing quite well.

“They’re our bookends, they’re our pass rushers. It’s obviously a premiere position on defense for anybody and these guys have been battling injuries all year,” coach Mike McCarthy said. “I just give them a ton of credit, ton of love just the way they’re going about it.”

Matthews made a difference against the Vikings, looking like his old play-making self for the first time since injuring his left shoulder on Nov. 28 against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Perry returned with two fourth-quarter sacks to give him a team-high 10 for the year. He also had two hurries and two tackles for losses after missing the previous two games with the hand injury.

 

Perry has a chance to return to his hometown of Detroit with a chance to help his team clinch the division to cap what has been a breakout season for him.

“It’s an important game for everybody. But, it’s also important because he’s going back home,” McCarthy said. “It’s always fun for anybody to go back home and perform and win.”

Stafford, who is playing with torn ligaments in his right middle finger, has thrown four interceptions to one touchdown over his last three games. He’s been sacked eight times in that span, including four times last week against Dallas.

The tide is turning and its in favor of the Packers. Stafford will be on the run all game.

Attack the Lions Secondary

The Green Bay Packers offense is playing at their highest level all season.

Jordy Nelson, a big part of that success, just won’t stop making plays. After pulling down a 60-yard pass from Rodgers that set up the game-winning field goal against Chicago, the ninth-year receiver caught a team-high nine passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns against the Vikings. He has an outside shot at his first 100-catch season going into Sunday’s regular-season finale with 91 receptions for 1,191 yards and 14 touchdowns.

 

Davante Adams, who’s 34 yards shy of his first 1,000-yard season, has shown flashes of greatness. He likes to play in spurts. The past two weeks he has had some all too familiar drops. Two weeks off usually means that Adams is set to have a game. Go have one!

Jared Cook left the game early in his first meeting with the Lions returns. With the amount of weapons the Packers offense has, it is hard to believe that Cook can’t have a record setting day against the Lions defense that lacks depth in the secondary.

Randall Cobb, who sat out last week against the Vikings is still questionable heading into the game. It will be a gametime decision.

Don’t forget about Ty Montgomery. Out of the backfield, in motion, and out wide. He will continue to haunt defenses.

Aaron Rodgers has played at an MVP level since the Packers’ 4-6 start. Rodgers fashioned a 129.3 passer rating in the Packers’ first meeting with Detroit, throwing for 205 yards and four touchdowns in a 34-27 win at Lambeau Field.

Play ALL 4 Quarters

The Lions have trailed in the fourth quarter of every game this season except one, yet have nine wins.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford set a single-season NFL record directing eight fourth-quarter comebacks.

That’s borderline ridiculous. And the Packers have had the opposite of luck. Where the Lions are thriving in the 4th, the Packers are sinking.

No more apparent than in the first meeting with the Lions. At half, the Packers lead 31-10. The game ended 34-27.

Through 15 games, fourth quarters have been volatile for the Packers defense. In Atlanta, they gave up a game-winning drive. In Washington, they coughed up a trio of 50-yard plays. In Chicago, they saw a 17-point lead become a tied game.

The Packers rank 26th in the NFL allowing 7.5 points per game in the fourth quarter. It has been opponents’ highest-scoring quarter against the Packers this season, almost 3.5 points more than average third-quarter scoring.

The Lions “quick-strike ability” will make things difficult for Capers.

“You’ve got to be ready to play for 60 minutes,” Capers said. “No matter what the situation is, you can’t ever relax. We’ve experienced that the last couple weeks. We’ve come out and played as good a third quarter two games in a row, and then the fourth quarter we haven’t played well.”

Stats

Aaron Rodgers needs four TD passes to reach 40 for the second time. Only three quarterbacks in history have multiple 40-TD seasons.

Mathew Stafford is 20 yards shy of becoming the fourth quarterback with 4,000 in six consecutive seasons.

Jordy Nelson has 30 receptions and five touchdowns in his last four games.

Conclusion

The Lions have been viewed with an air of skepticism most of the season and it looks like that was accurate. They have trailed in the fourth quarter of almost all of their wins and when you start breaking down who they’ve beaten, it’s not very impressive.

They have wins against the Chicago Bears, New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Vikings, Jacksonville Jaguars, Washington Redskins, Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia Eagles and Indianapolis Colts. None of those teams would be in the playoffs if they started today. That being the case, it’s hard to back them in this spot against a red-hot Packers side. The Lions will fight valiantly as they have all season long but they’ll fall short.

Prediction

Green Bay Packers – 42
Detroit Lions – 20

 

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