The final spot in the NFC playoffs could be on the line later tonight for both the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers. For Green Bay, it's win and they are in as the No. 7 seed. For Detroit, they'll first need the Seattle Seahawks to lose to the Los Angeles Rams and then take care of their own business against Green Bay to secure the No. 7 seed.
Here are five things I'll be watching out for in this Week 18 NFC North showdown:
1. ENERGY LEVEL
The Lions will likely know by kickoff for Sunday Night Football whether they're playing for a playoff spot or playing spoiler to the Packers.
If Seattle wins, it's only human nature to feel a little disappointment. How will Detroit come out if that's the case? Playoffs or not, a win Sunday means a chance at a winning record and a chance to spoil the Packers' season, which head coach Dan Campbell said this week is plenty of motivation for his team.
The Lions want to finish on a strong note and take some really good momentum into the offseason. Playoffs or not, I'd expect Detroit to come out with a lot of energy and play to win.
2. TURNOVER BATTLE
The big catalyst behind the Packers' current 4-0 streak has been their ability to generate turnovers. They have 12 of them over the course of the last four games, nine of those via interceptions.
Lions quarterback Jared Goff hasn't thrown an interception since Week 9 in the first matchup with Green Bay, which is a streak of eight games and 290 pass attempts. The 15 turnovers by the Lions this season (7 INT, 8 FUM) are the fewest in the league. This is a strength on strength matchup in terms of the turnover battle for both squads.
3. RECORD CHASING
Lions running back Jamaal Williams is first and foremost focused on beating his old team and potentially putting the Lions in the playoffs, but if he can gain at least six yards and find the end zone once or twice that would be pretty cool too.
Williams is six yards away from his first career 1,000-yard season and one touchdown from tying the franchise single-season rushing touchdown mark of 16 owned by Barry Sanders. Imagine Williams getting to 1,000, tying or beating Sanders' mark and beating the Packers to get into the playoffs. That's a dream Sunday night scenario for Williams.
4. LIONS PASS RUSH
It came to life last week against the Bears as the Lions racked up 7.0 sacks with 6.0 coming from rookies. From Weeks 7-17 Green Bay has given up 15 sacks, the third fewest over that span.
Left tackle David Bakhtiari hasn't allowed a sack or quarterback pressure in 10 games since returning from injury. He'll face rookie James Houston quite a bit tonight. Houston leads all rookies with 8.0 sacks in his first six NFL games played. What gives in that matchup? Can Aidan Hutchinson, Josh Paschal, John Cominsky and the rest of the Lions pass rush have as much impact on the game as they did a week ago?
5. GOFF FINISH
Goff deserves a ton of credit for the Lions being in this position. He ranks in the top six in the league in yards, touchdowns, passer rating and interception percentage. He's got a terrific feel for Ben Johnson's offense. Goff knows exactly why Johnson is making a specific call based on the defense and he knows where the right read is. If it's not there, he'll check it down or throw it away to live another play.
The Packers have the No. 4 passing defense in the NFL, allowing on average just 195.6 passing yards per game. Cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Rasul Douglas have combined for nine interceptions on the year and are playing some pretty darn good ball right now.
The Lions need Goff to finish the regular season strong if they're going to have a chance at the postseason.