The NFL season is winding down to its final week, and the playoff picture is all but settled for most teams throughout the league. In a matchup between division rivals Detroit and Green Bay, both teams already hold tickets to the post-season. Green Bay has locked up the top seed in the NFC, while the Detroit Lions are already guaranteed a wild card slot. Now on paper it might seem that the two teams having nothing to play for, and this might be true for the Green Bay Packers, but the Detroit Lions still have plenty to play for, namely playoff positioning.
The Detroit Lions, which hasn't been to the post-season since 1999, punched its ticket last week with an impressive blowout victory at home against the San Diego Chargers. The team is currently 9 and 7 and is assured a wildcard spot, even if it loses the game. However, if it is able to beat the defending Super Bowl champions, it is able to better its positioning in the playoffs. If the playoffs started today, Green Bay would have a first round bye and be the overall number one seed in the NFC. This means not only does it not have to play the first weekend of the playoffs, but it also has home field advantage throughout the post-season (every game it plays is going to be at home, no matter who the opponent). The Detroit Lions, meanwhile, sit as the 6th team to land the playoffs. They would play in the wildcard weekend against the New Orleans Saints. This can all change though, with a win by the Lions.
If the Lions win, they jump to become the 5th seeded wildcard game, making Atlanta the 6th seed. Instead of playing the Saints, they would play the winner of the Dallas and Giants game. This is a huge difference in match ups. The winner of the game is going to have 9 overall wins, not to mention Detroit already bested Dallas earlier in the season with an amazing come from behind victory. Detroit would much rather play a game at Dallas or the Giants (most likely the team would rather play Dallas, if it could choose) instead of the Saints, who just destroyed Atlanta on the Monday Night Football game.
The Lions do have a chance to pull the upset, and there is one, main reason. The Green Pay Packers are probably not going to play their starters for most of the game. Green Bay has, essentially, nothing to play for in this game. If they win or lose, nothing is going to change their post season standings. However, someone on the team can become hurt, forcing them to miss the post season and hinder their attempts to repeat as Super Bowl champions. Due to this, the team is most likely going to play the starters for a quarter, then put in the secondary units. The Lions are going to go with their starters, so they have an excellent opportunity at beating the Packers due to this reasoning.
If the Lions fail to win the game, there is still a chance they don't play the Saints. If the Saints win on Sunday and San Francisco loses, the Saints become the number two seed in the NFC and receive a first round bye. San Francisco would then drop to the third seed, and the Lions would end up playing the 49ers. This wouldn't be terrible for Detroit, as the team almost (and probably should have) beaten the team early in the season. On top of this, there was an ugly altercation between the two head coaches after the conclusion of the previous game, which could help build some hype for this game.