A Week 17 matchup between the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers had the potential to be a meeting with playoff impact just a few weeks ago. Instead, both teams will be playing out the schedule when the Lions host the Packers on Sunday.
Green Bay’s season went off the rails due to injury, with quarterback Aaron Rodgers the most significant of the bunch, and coach Mike McCarthy is looking to give younger players like 24-year wide receiver Trevor Davis a chance in the finale.
“He’ll benefit from playing,” McCarthy told reporters of Davis. “You don’t want to be a one-dimensional player. If you look at Trevor’s first two years, when he comes into the game, everyone identifies the speed. He has to be able to do the other things - the quick gain, the double moves and the ability to run the crossing routes, and route discipline that goes with it. You don’t want to be a guy who can just run deep. He’s doing (those things). He’s working hard at it.”
The Lions go into the finale answering questions about the job security of head coach Jim Caldwell, who has yet to win a playoff game in four years with the team.
“I appreciate everything Coach Caldwell does,” quarterback Matthew Stafford told reporters. “I think he’s a really good leader of men. I think he does a great job in our locker room, helping get us ready to go play football and the rest is up to the players to go out there and make plays and win games.”
TV: Noon, FOX
RADIO: WDSM 710 AM
LINE: Lions -6.5. O/U: 43
About the Packers (7-8)
Green Bay placed Rodgers back on injured reserve and expects to be without several other players, but the healthy ones will play on Sunday.
“It’s important to play to win,” McCarthy told reporters. “To me this isn’t preseason. That would be the wrong message to send to locker room, and a terrible message to send to your fans. We’re going there to win, and if our players are healthy I expect them to play.”
Brett Hundley will again get the start at quarterback but will likely be without wide receivers Jordy Nelson (shoulder) and Davante Adams (concussion).
About the Lions (8-7)
Stafford heads into the final weekend of the season fourth in the NFL in passing yards at 4.123, but Detroit sits last in the NFL in rushing at an average of 78 yards.
“My job is to do whatever I can to help us win games,” offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter told reporters when asked about the struggles in the running game. “So far, we’ve won more than we’ve lost. There’s a bunch of things we could do better. ... We’ve got to keep getting better at everything.”
One issue with the running game is a series of injuries along the offensive line, and center Travis Swanson (concussion), guard T.J. Lang (foot) and tackle Rick Wagner (ankle) are all questionable for Sunday.
1. Lions CB Nevin Lawson (concussion) is not practicing this week and is doubtful for the finale.
2. Packers RB Aaron Jones (knee) is doubtful.
3. Detroit snapped a three-game losing streak in the series with a 30-17 win at Green Bay on Nov. 6.
PREDICTION: Lions 27, Packers 21.