The Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers are heading in different directions as they enter what is essentially an NFC North title game on Sunday Night Football.
Green Bay (9-6) has won five in a row and wide receiver Jordy Nelson has taken the NFL lead with 14 touchdown catches. Detroit (9-6) is coming off a 42-21 whipping at the hands of Dallas.
The winner will get the division title, while the loser can still make the playoffs with some help from New York, whose Giants visit Washington Sunday. But if Washington wins to move to 9-6-1, the loser of the Packers-Lions tilt would miss the playoffs — unless they tie their game.
The Lions might not be up for throwing away their shot at the first NFC North title in franchise history and first division title since 1993.
They’ll have to take a step forward to do it, though.
Quarterback Matt Stafford turned the ball over twice against Dallas and he’ll be facing a Packers defense that just got one of its key players back. Clay Matthews had a sack and forced a fumble in Green Bay’s win over Minnesota, and sparked a defense that will complement an offense firing on all cylinders. Aaron Rodgers has thrown 14 touchdown passes without an interception in his last six games.
Meanwhile, Detroit’s Matthew Stafford had an interception and a fumble against Dallas — not the way he wanted to come into this rematch. In September, Stafford had a big day with nearly 400 yards passing and three TD passes, but the Packers’ big plays sank the Lions in that one.
But if Detroit can win the rematch, airing Sunday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC, none of that will matter.
Players to watch:
Packers WR Geronimo Allison played in relief of the injured Randall Cobb and appeared to have developed timing and rapport with Rodgers.
Packers LB Jake Ryan led a defense that held the Vikings to 93 yards rushing and limited the Vikings offensively before yielding up two scores in the last five minutes, after the game was already decided.
Lions DT A’Shawn Robinson drew a questionable flag for tackling Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott too hard on Monday night, a small mark against an otherwise strong game for the rookie.
Lions RB Zach Zenner got the bulk of the carries on Monday night. He and Dwayne Washington, have been filling in for the injured and mostly indispensable Theo Riddick.