It’s crunch time.
And that means the Green Bay Packers have virtually no room to slip up if they intend on securing the important No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs.
The Packers will bring a 9-3 record into today’s matchup with the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field. The Packers should maul the Lions – just like they did in their second game of the season on Sept. 20 when Aaron Jones-ran roughshod over the Lions with a season-high 168 yards in a 42-21 victory.
If the Packers do the expected – they are a nine-point favorite against the Lions – they raise their record to 10-3 and continue to breathe down the necks of the New Orleans Saints, who currently have the NFC’s best record at 10-2 and should retain their top NFC playoff spot today against the hapless Philadelphia Eagles.
That would mean both the Packers and Saints have three regular-season games remaining, with the Saints clinging to a one-game advantage over the Packers. Here are the remaining schedules for both teams with home games in capital letters and their records:
- CAROLINA (4-8)
- TENNESSEE (8-4)
- At Chicago (5-7)
- KANSAS CITY (11-1)
- MINNESOTA (6-6)
- At Carolina (4-8)
Back-to-back games against the reigning Super Bowl champion Chiefs and steadily improving Vikings figure to be challenging for the Saints and could open the door for the Packers to slip into the No. 1 playoff position.
While a victory today is obviously vital for the Packers, it could also be an important one for Nathaniel Hackett, the Packers’ offensive coordinator.
The Lions are expected to hire a new coach after the season and Hackett could be in the mix. Hackett is clearly one of the league’s finest offensive play-callers and a key contributor in the Packers’ high-powered offense which has produced a league-high 379 points – or a whopping 31.5 points a game.
Before coming to Green Bay last season, the 40-year-old Hackett made his presence felt in Jacksonville and Buffalo. In 2013, Hackett, in his first offensive coordinator’s gig, helped the Bills rank second in the NFL in rushing yards per game at 144.2.
Then, in 2017 while the OC in Jacksonville, the Jaguars led the NFL in rushing yards per game at 141.4. That same season the Jaguars advanced to the AFC Championship game.
If the Packers steamroll the Lions again, Lions ownership can’t help but take notice of the job Hackett has done working with head coach Matt LaFleur.
Prediction: Packers 34, Lions 20.