The Detroit Lions have quietly taken over their rivalry with the Green Bay Packers. It’s been over two years since the Packers have won and three years since they’ve beaten them in Detroit. Green Bay will have a chance to reverse that trend when they play in Detroit on Thanksgiving Day.
It’s imperative to their playoff hopes that Green Bay walks away with a win in either Detroit or the following week in Lambeau Field against the defending Super Bowl Champions, the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Lions are leading the NFC North at 8-2 and hold the second seed in the NFC. The Packers will never be in the race for a home playoff game this season, but they can begin to glance at the Wildcard picture if they can steal one of these wins.
The Green Bay Packers can creep closer toward making the playoffs, but they desperately need at least one win in the next two weeks.
The Minnesota Vikings hold the final Wildcard spot at 6-5. Green Bay plays them again in the second-to-last game of the season, meaning they only have to get within one game of them to have a chance to tie and even up the series.
The Packers are actually the next team on the bubble at 4-6, with no teams between them and the Vikings. Green Bay still has easily winnable games against the New York Giants (3-8), Carolina Panthers (1-9), and Chicago Bears (3-8). They also play the 4-6 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. For argument’s sake, let’s say they find a way to win each of those games, giving them eight wins on the season. Another win against the Vikings gives them nine.
That’s where this stretch against the Lions and Chiefs comes in. If they can sneak one of those victories, it would give them a 10-7 record to finish the season and a very good chance to at least upend the Vikings down the stretch.
If we take Minnesota’s assumed loss to the Packers into the equation, they’d only need to lose one-to-two more games for Green Bay to pass them, depending on tie-breakers. That should be doable, as they still play the Lions twice.
Of course, this entire scenario assumes the Packers will suddenly play consistently good football, something we haven’t seen from them this season. It also assumes fans want Green Bay to sneak into the playoffs instead of vying for a better draft pick. To each their own, but it would speak volumes about the young core the Packers have if they’re suddenly able to stack a bunch of wins together and get the team into the postseason.
There are a lot of “what ifs” that need to play out, but it’s still fun to envision playoff scenarios for a young, rebuilding team.