Field Level Media
Before packing up their belongings and heading off to vacation, the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions must play one last game in their horribly disappointing seasons.
"The reality, and I told the team this morning, by Monday at 5 o'clock, right, this is going to be a ghost town," interim Packers coach Joe Philbin told the media earlier this week, looking ahead to Sunday's game at Lambeau Field. "I mean, it ends rapidly, and whether you finish the season as Super Bowl champions or you lose in 'X' round of the playoffs or you don't get to the playoffs, it's, bang, all of a sudden it's over.
"And the reality of it is some of these guys may never see each other the rest of their natural lives on Earth, right, because things change in the National Football League, regardless of the win-loss record you had that particular year. So just basically, let's enjoy the week. And really, they'll never regret finishing the season strong."
The Packers, who started the season with Super Bowl aspirations, are just 6-8-1. After earning their first road win of the season last week against the Jets, they can pick up their first back-to-back victories of the season with a win Sunday at home.
The Lions, after back-to-back 9-7 seasons under Jim Caldwell, are 5-10 under first-year coach Matt Patricia. They enter Sunday with seven losses in their last nine games, failing to surpass 20 points in eight of those games.
"I think it's a great week for us to go out and compete and get better," Patricia told the media this week. "Obviously, with a game against such a storied program like the Green Bay Packers, with such rich history and tradition and the division and all the rest of it, there's no place you'd rather be in the circumstances that we have. We've got to go up to Lambeau and play a very good team against a great staff, against great players, great quarterback. It's a huge challenge for us. If you love the game and you love to play and you love to be part of competition and you're all about football, Sunday, this is where you want to be."
Other than pride, there's little of consequence on the line. Detroit has clinched last place in the NFC North -- bad news for Patricia but good news for the 2019 schedule and draft positioning. Green Bay will finish third for the second consecutive season after eight consecutive playoff appearances.
Detroit won the first matchup of these teams this season, 31-23 in Week 5 at Ford Field. Three of its top weapons from that game, receiver Golden Tate (trade), receiver Marvin Jones (injured reserve) and running back Kerryon Johnson (injured reserve), won't be available. It's a similar story for the Packers. Of the 11 starting defenders in that first game, it's possible only three will be in the lineup on Sunday.
What might pass for drama on Sunday will be receiver Davante Adams' pursuit of franchise single-season records for receptions and yards. He has 111 receptions for 1,386 yards. With two receptions, he'd break Sterling Sharpe's record of 112; with 134 yards, he'd break Jordy Nelson's record of 1,519. First, though, Adams has to play. He did not practice this week after sustaining a knee early in the game against the Jets. Adams did play in 87 snaps in that game and caught 11 passes.
"That would be sweet," Adams said of breaking the records. "Obviously, I've got my sights set on trying to win a football game, and if we can accomplish that in the meantime, it would be great."