After Further Review, Pack Will Try to Win With FlynnPosted:Dec 30th, 2011 4:37 pm
The Packers' 20-game winning streak over the Lions in Wisconsin is in jeopardy this weekend, and it has nothing to do with which will be the better team on Sunday.
The Lions are 3 1/2 point favorites at Lambeau for a reason. They have everything to play for and the Pack has nothing to play for, and while it would be nice to go after them and deliver them the sixth seed and a funeral march to New Orleans, the reality is the Packers will give some of their key starters a few series, maybe a half, and then they'll take a seat and let the reserves finish up.
The 20-game home winning streak pre-dates Favre and includes the '94 playoff win--it's the longest current streak in the NFL. But it has a good chance at ending this weekend as Green Bay prepares for its title defense 13 or 14 days later at Lambeau, likely against either the NFC East champ or these same Lions.
The Pack will start the game with Rodgers, with Chad Clifton back at left tackle for the first time in ten games, with Ryan Pickett back to help correct the suddenly horrible run defense. Depending on how things go, they'll likely play into the second quarter or through the first half. They'll be joined on the sidelines by anybody else nursing some bruises, guys like Woodson, Matthews, maybe even Tramon Williams and Jermichael Finley.
It's not what most of us would prefer. We saw what late season momentum meant to the Packers last year, and you hate to provide some to the young, trash-talking, late-hitting Lions. But once the chance at 19-0 vanished, so did the Pack's motivation to play a week 17 game where they had nothing to gain but everything to lose.
By all accounts, Greg Jennings and Bryan Bulaga will be back for the playoffs. Randall Cobb's suddenly achy groin will likely keep him out this weekend, but hopefully a couple weeks will be enough to get him back to 100%. The goal is to be as healthy as possible when the chase for the Lombardi trophy begins.
This season, they're the hunted. A hungry team will visit that second week in January, knowing that being the underdog means nothing once the playoffs start. If it is the Lions who come calling that weekend, you can bet that many will be comparing them to last season's Packers--the hot wildcard team no one wants to face.
And what happens this weekend could set up the Pack to squelch that nonsense and remind the football world why this team has been the league's best since late last December.