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5 things to watch: Lions vs. Packers

The Packers and Lions square off at Ford Field today for the regular-season finale. The Packers have locked in the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC playoffs, but still plan to play most of their starters, but for how long?

The Lions want to play some good football to close out a tough season overall and take some momentum into the offseason.

Here are five things to watch in today's matchup:


Quarterback Jared Goff returned to practice this week after missing last week's contest in Seattle with a bone bruise. He's been limited all week, but Lions offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn said Goff moved and threw the ball well in practice. Goff said Wednesday he wants to play, if the knee allows it. It's really a question of pain management at this point.

Goff was listed as questionable to play today on Friday's practice report. It would be nice to see him under center to finish off his first season in Detroit. He's been playing really well down the stretch. Goff has completed 67 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and two interceptions since the bye. If he can't go, the Lions will turn to backup Tim Boyle to make his fourth start of the season.


Rookie wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown has had eight-plus receptions in five straight games, the longest streak by any rookie since at least 1950. There's been no such thing as a rookie wall for St. Brown. He's gotten better and better as the season has progressed. He's become Detroit's top weapon in the passing game, and a player who consistently steps up and makes plays.

The Lions used him in a lot of different ways last week in Seattle, even motioning him into the backfield for a 26-yard touchdown run. How will the Lions get the ball to St. Brown today?

If St. Brown can catch at least eight passes again today, he'll break the franchise record set by Calvin Johnson in 2012 with his sixth game in a row with eight-plus.


Outside of forcing a three and out on Seattle's first possession last week, Detroit's defense struggled. The Seahawks scored on their next nine possessions and ended up with 51 points. The Lions allowed a season-high 265 rushing yards to Seattle last week as they got beat up in the trenches all contest.

Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn is looking for more discipline and better tackling out of his unit in this one. The Lions limited Green Bay to 323 total yards and less than 100 yards rushing in their Week 2 loss to the Packers in Green Bay. Both teams are vastly different 16 weeks later. The Packers come in ranked 10th in scoring at 26.3 points per game. Detroit's defense is 30th in points allowed (27.3).


The first year for any player in the NFL can be rough. Their head is spinning about half the season as they adjust to the speed and sheer volume of information they have to retain. Then there's getting over the physical wall of playing more games in one season than they ever have before at the highest level they've played.

Rookies like tackle Penei Sewell, nose tackle Alim McNeill, cornerback AJ Parker and St. Brown have been consistent starters and solid performers all season long. Coaches will be looking for a few of the other rookies, mainly defensive end Levi Onwuzurike, cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu, linebacker Derrick Barnes and tight end Brock Wright to finish strong and take some momentum into an offseason that typically helps players make their biggest jump in development.


Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the likely league MVP this season, has started 23 games against Detroit with an 18-5 record. He's thrown 50 touchdowns in those games with only eight interceptions and a 108.1 passer rating. He's posted a 100-plus rating in 15 of those games, including each of the last three (107.6, 133.6 & 145.6). He hasn't thrown an interception against a NFC North opponent since Detroit cornerback Amani Oruwariye got one in 2019.

It will be interesting to see if Rodgers plays the whole game or if he is on a pitch count. Detroit could see backup Jordan Love in this one.

The Lions will have to play well upfront, especially on the edges, to make Rodgers uncomfortable in the pocket and speed up his clock. Guys like outside linebackers Charles Harris and Austin Bryant will be important in that regard today. Can the Lions generate some pressure on defense? If not, it could be a long day for a banged up Lions secondary.

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