Division rivals going in opposite directions meet in Week 14 on Sunday night when the Green Bay Packers host the Detroit Lions. By virtue of tiebreaker, the Packers currently hold the lead in the NFC North division, and with a trip to Chicago to face the Bears in Week 15, Green Bay will try to avoid an upset at the hands of the Lions.
Detroit has lost four consecutive games, with the last two coming in brutal fashion. The Houston Texans topped the Lions on Thanksgiving Day in overtime, 34-31, in a game that featured plenty of blown opportunities for Detroit to earn the victory. Then, last week, rookie quarterback Andrew Luck drove the Indianapolis Colts down the field and threw the game-winning touchdown pass with no time left on the clock to give the Colts the 35-33 win.
Meet the Green Bay Packers
This week, Green Bay will try to avenge its last appearance on Sunday Night Football, when they were manhandled by the New York Giants in Week 12, 38-10. In last week's 23-14 win over the Minnesota Vikings, the Packers got one of their better rushing performances of the season, as running back James Starks picked up 66 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown, while Alex Green gained 58 yards on 12 attempts.
Offensively, the Packers got wide receiver Greg Jennings back last week, as he caught four passes for 46 yards against the Vikings. They will, however, likely be without wideout Jordy Nelson, who re-tweaked a previous hamstring injury. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers added a touchdown pass last week to his total of 29 on the season, which ranks second in the league. He has thrown for 3,124 yards and eight interceptions, and his quarterback rating of 105.0 is the best in the NFL.
Meet the Detroit Lions
To this point, the Lions are 0-4 this season against NFC North opponents and, at 4-8, a chance at the postseason appears highly unlikely. After their visit to Green Bay, they take on the Arizona Cardinals on the road, then wrap up the regular season with back-to-back home games against the Atlanta Falcons and Chicago Bears.
Detroit is still a dangerous threat, however, with a passing game that ranks first in the league, averaging 312.5 yards through the air per contest. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has thrown for 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, while leading the NFL in passing yards, with 3,742. Wide receiver Calvin Johnson, Stafford's top target, leads the league in receiving yardage for the season, with 1,428 so far.
Local Takes: Packers
Devin Shanley from Acme Packing Company says Green Bay's defense is doing what it takes to earn victories:
"The good news is that more often than not the defense has found a way to maintain some sort of way to win most weeks. Better yet they have found a way to balance all these shifting flaws to become a solid defense overall. It's what most of us were asking for coming into the season, just an average defense to pair with an explosive offense.....looks like we got half our wish, and that just might be enough for a good playoff run."
Local Takes: Lions
Sean Yuille from Pride of Detroit says the Lions can't stop snatching defeat from the jaws of victory this season:
"The Lions may be finding new ways to lose games, but the general script is the same. They can't pull away when given opportunity after opportunity on offense, forcing the defense to come up with a key stop. The defense folds under pressure, allowing the opposing team to come back and win. It happened against the Green Bay Packers a couple weeks ago and the Houston Texans on Thanksgiving, and it happened on Sunday against the Colts."
Follow the Fun
Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:
No word on if the official NFL transaction reads as follows: WR Titus Young to IR (douchebaggery).— Pride Of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) December 4, 2012
@WesHod - Wes Hodkiewicz, Packers beat writer for the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
@davebirkett - Dave Birkett, Lions beat writer for the Detroit Free Press.
Are suggestions for T.O., Ocho & Braylon serious? Gotten all 3 last 2 days RT @foodyfantastic: TERELL OWENS !!!!!— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) December 4, 2012
This could get ugly in Green Bay. The Packers need this game to stay in the playoff picture and they've been hot over the last two months. The Lions have lost four in a row and they're basically out of the postseason chase. I like Green Bay by a lot.
The pick: 35-21, Packers.
Green Bay opened the week as seven-point favorites, according to OddsShark, and the line hasn't moved yet, as the Packers remain favored by a touchdown. The over/under point total for the contest began at 53, but has since shifted down to 51½.
The Packers hit the road in Week 15 for what should be a huge NFC North showdown with their rival Bears in Chicago, as Green Bay aims for the season sweep. The Lions, on the other hand, complete their two-game road trip in Arizona, where they will face the Cardinals on Sunday afternoon.