NFL on Sling: Packers & Lions Battle for Division Title

Dec 29, 2016 by Sling Staff

Green Bay Packers (9-6) vs Detroit Lions (9-6)
8:30pm ET on NBC

The resurrection of Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers continued last week with a 38-25 win over the once mighty Minnesota Vikings, with Rodgers completing 28 of 38 for 347 yards and 4 touchdowns, and carrying the ball for the team’s other TD. Following a Week 11 loss to the Redskins, the Packers were 4-6, 2 games behind the Lions and Vikings, but haven’t lost since, winning 5 in a row. While Rodgers has been a big driver of the winning streak, completing 115 of 161 (71.4%) for 1367 yards, 11 touchdowns and 0 interceptions, the defense has also been outstanding. After surrendering 27.6 ppg on 357 total yards over the first 10 games of the season, the Packers have allowed 17.6 ppg while forcing 14 total turnovers in their last 5 games. This marks the fourth straight season the Green Bay Packers find themselves playing on the final day of the regular season against an NFC North rival with the division title on the line, with the Pack coming out on top in 2 of the previous 3 matchups. Rodgers hurt his neck against Minnesota, but should be good to go Sunday.

The Detroit Lions got smoked last week, falling 42-21 to the Dallas Cowboys. The Lions played them tough for the first half, even going up 21-14 before heading into halftime tied at 21-21. But the ‘Boys came out of the locker room firing on all cylinders, as Dak Prescott engineered 3 straight touchdown drives of 38, 95 and 63 yards to put Dallas on top 42-21. Lions QB Matthew Stafford hit on 26 of 46 passes for 260 yards and an interception, and got sacked 4 times, as Detroit fans suffered Stafford’s third consecutive dud of a game. Going back to a win over Chicago, Stafford’s completed 71 of 120 (59.2%) for 756 yards, 1 TD and 4 interceptions, while getting sacked 8 times. The Lions continue to be crippled by a lack of a running game, as they ranked 30th in rushing yards with 1,234, and 26th in yards per carry at 3.8 – what keeps their ground game from being a total disaster is their rushing corps’ unusually sure hands, which have led to just 9 fumbles, second-fewest in the league. Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin had better cook up something special for Aaron Rodgers, cuz his guys just gave up a season-high 42 points, and have not defended well against the pass all season, giving up a league-high 72.9% completion rate, the fourth-most TD passes with 29, and just 10 interceptions.

In their previous matchup, Stafford completed 28 of 41 for 385 yards, 3 TDs and an interception, while Rodgers connected on 15 of 24 for 205 yards, 4 TDs and 0 INTs, as the Packers won 34-27 in a game that was only that close because the Lions came to life only after falling into a 31-3 hole in the 2nd quarter. Rodgers has been unstoppable going back to Thanksgiving, and his defense has turned up the heat even more, while Stafford and the Lions have stumbled through the last few weeks. The winner is the division champ, and if the Redskins beat the Giants earlier in the day, the loser of Lions-Packers are out of it altogether. If Washington loses, however, the loser of Lions-Packers is the 6th seed in the NFC. Of course, there’s a slight chance Tampa sneaks into the mix, but it is absurdly small.

1pm on FOX

Carolina Panthers (6-9) vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-7)
Chicago Bears (3-12) vs Minnesota Vikings (7-8)
Dallas Cowboys (13-2) vs Philadelphia Eagles (6-9)

4:25pm on FOX

New Orleans Saints (7-8) vs Atlanta Falcons (10-5)
New York Giants (10-5) vs Washington Redskins (8-6-1)
Arizona Cardinals (6-8-1) vs Los Angeles Rams (4-11)
Seattle Seahawks (9-5-1) vs San Francisco 49ers (2-13)

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All stats courtesy ESPN and Pro Football Reference.

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