Packers vs Lions The Detroit Lions wrap up their 2019 season later today with a chance to play the role of spoiler. The Lions (3-11-1) host the 12-3 Green Bay Packers, who can clinch a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs with a victory and potentially the No. 1 overall seed.
Packers vs Lions
Last week in Denver we saw Kerryon Johnson and Bo Scarbrough share Detroit’s backfield for the first time this season. Johnson rushed 10 times for 42 yards in his first game back from IR. Scarbrough rushed eight times for 34 yards. That amounted to a 4.2-yard-per-carry average for Johnson, while Scarbrough averaged 4.3 yards per carry. As a team, the Lions had an efficient afternoon running the football, rushing 21 times for 96 yards (4.6).
Green Bay ranks 23rd against the run, allowing on average 116.7 yards per game. Johnson and Scarbrough are also competing today for the Lions’ rushing lead. Johnson has 350 rushing yards on the season. Scarbrough has 335.
It’s been a breakout third season for wide receiver Kenny Golladay, the former third-round pick out of Northern Illinois. Golladay’s been one of the real bright spots for the Lions this season, leading the team in receptions (62), yards (1,118) and touchdowns (11). His 11 touchdown grabs are currently the most in the NFL.
With 82 receiving yards today, Golladay would join Calvin Johnson and Herman Moore as the only players in franchise history to reach 1,200 receiving yards with at least 10 touchdowns in a single season. He would join Johnson as the only players to accomplish the feat in their first three seasons in the NFL.
FLOWERS CAREER HIGHS
It hasn’t been all bad for Detroit’s 29th ranked defense this season.
Defensive end Trey Flowers was a big acquisition for them this offseason, and he’s played pretty well over the last couple months of the season. Since Week 8, Flowers’ 16 quarterback hits are second most in the NFL behind only Joey Bosa (17).
Flowers needs just 1.0 sack today to record a new season high of 8.0. He needs one tackle for loss to match his season high of nine from last season.
Flowers has 50 tackles, 7.0 sacks and two forced fumbles in 14 games on the year. He and J.J. Watt are the only players in the NFL with that stat line since the start of 2018.
BACKUP QB JOB
David Blough is expected to start his fifth straight game at quarterback for the Lions today. It’s unclear if we’ll see backup Kyle Sloter in any capacity.
For Blough, it’s his last opportunity to win a game as the starter and head to the 2020 offseason on a good note. He’s 0-4 filling in for Jeff Driskel (IR, hamstring), who was 0-3 filling in for Matthew Stafford (IR, back). That makes Lions quarterbacks other than Stafford 0-for-7 on the year.
Driskel is a free agent this offseason, but Blough and Sloter are under contract next year. Lions general manager Bob Quinn will likely be on the lookout to bolster the quarterback position this offseason, either through free agency or the draft. Can Blough make a case in his last start to be a candidate for a backup role next season?
It is not as easy as one, two, or three, but that is where the Green Bay Packers will be seeded for the NFC playoffs depending on their Sunday matchup with the Detroit Lions and what happens in games involving New Orleans vs. Carolina and Seattle vs. San Francisco. As Green Bay returns to the postseason for the first time in three seasons, the Lions (3-11-1) will miss out for the third straight year as they look to avoid their worst finish since going 2-14 in 2009.
How to Watch
When: Sunday, Dec. 29
Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Live Stream: fuboTV (try for free)
The Packers (12-3) clinched their first NFC North title since 2016 with a 23-10 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night, sweeping the season series and giving first-year coach Matt LaFleur the chance to run the table against his division rivals in this contest.
The win also assured Green Bay it would be no worse than the No. 3 seed for the playoffs, though it can also claim a bye and possibly even the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the postseason if results break in their direction. The Packers will claim a bye to the divisional round with a victory in this game or a Saints loss to Carolina, and the road would go through “Titletown” if the Packers win and the 49ers lose to the Seahawks on Sunday night.
Aaron Jones picked an opportune time for his best game of the season, rushing for a career-high 154 yards and sealing the victory with a 56-yard touchdown run with 5:51 to play. The third-year running back is just 16 yards shy of being the first 1,000-yard rusher for the Packers since Eddie Lacey had 1,139 in 2014.
While Jones took center stage offensively, Green Bay’s defense was magnificent throughout the contest, recording five sacks and holding Minnesota to 139 total yards. Za’Darius Smith recorded 3.5 of the five sacks, furthering his career-best total to 13.5 in a dominant performance in which he had five tackles for losses, five quarterback hurries and seven tackles overall.
Aaron Rodgers did his part to help keep the chains moving, completing 26 of 40 passes for 216 yards. In a sign of the better balance in Green Bay’s offense this year under LaFleur, Rodgers was held without a touchdown pass for the third time, but the Packers have won all three of those games.
Rodgers has thrived against the Lions over his career, going 14-5 while throwing for 4,809 yards and 39 touchdowns with only seven interceptions. He rallied Green Bay from a nine-point, fourth-quarter deficit to a 23-22 victory in Week 6, hooking up with Allen Lazard on a 35-yard touchdown pass before engineering a 14-play, 77-yard drive over the final 6:46, capped by Mason Crosby’s game-winning 23-yard field goal at the gun.
Detroit has lost eight straight games and dropped 11 of 12 after starting the season 2-0-1. The offense sputtered in a 27-17 loss at Denver last Sunday, finishing with a season-low 191 total yards. Yet the Lions carried the lead into the fourth quarter, before being let down by their defense that gave up a pair of touchdowns around an empty possession.
David Blough completed 12 of 24 passes for 117 yards and a TD, but was also sacked four times. Detroit’s two sustained scoring drives accounted for 22 of its 49 plays run as it had possession for less than 24 minutes. Jamal Agnew accounted for the Lions’ other touchdown with a 64-yard punt return — his second runback for a score after returning a kickoff 100 yards vs. Philadelphia in Week 3.