The Detroit Lions will attempt to finish out their season on a strong note later today as they host the Green Bay Packers at Ford Field. The division title isn’t on the line in this matchup like it was Week 17 last year, but the Lions can still finish their season with a 9-7 record and a 5-1 mark in the NFC North, and head to the offseason with some momentum.
Here are five things to watch out for in today’s season finale:
We have to go all the way back to 1991 for the last time the Lions were able to sweep the season series from the Packers. The Lions won 24-17 in Detroit that season and secured a 21-17 victory in Green Bay.
Sure, the Packers didn’t have the services of MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers in either contest against Detroit this season, but hearing remarks from veteran players like Glover Quin and Darius Slay this week, it’s important to them to finish this year out strong and send a message to the Packers that they’re looking up at the Lions when next season begins.
Winning the game is obviously job No. 1, but there are some individual milestones that players can reach that are always nice for the resume.
Let's start with wide receiver Golden Tate. He’s recorded at least 90 catches in each of his first three seasons with the Lions. He needs five more receptions today to reach 90. Tate is also 101 yards short of reaching 1,000 receiving yards for the third time in four years with the franchise.
Defensive end Ziggy Ansah is just one sack away from reaching double digits on the year. That's a good target number for any pass rusher entering the season.
Can safety Quandre Diggs make it four games in a row with an interception?
The last thing the Lions want is to suffer any significant injuries this late in the season. Injuries happen, that's just the nature of this game, but both Detroit and Green Bay are looking to avoid any of the serious injuries that could affect an offseason for a player or possibly even linger into next training camp or regular season.
For the Lions, they'll be looking to play well, win the contest, end the season on a good note, and stay healthy in the process.
This is the last chance for some of Detroit’s rookies to make one final impact on coaches and front office personnel in 2017. The Lions have gotten a lot of steady contributions this season from their rookie class.
The biggest jump in development for most players in the NFL occurs between their first and second seasons. Can Jarrad Davis, Teez Tabor, Kenny Golladay, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Michael Roberts, Jamal Agnew, Jeremiah Ledbetter and Tion Green end their rookie campaigns on one final good note?
The 2017 season will go down as a disappointing one in Detroit. The Lions had loftier goals than potentially finishing 9-7 and out of the playoffs.
With a win today, Detroit can finish 8-1 against teams that finished under .500 and won’t be playing in the playoffs. Their only loss of that group came to Cincinnati on the road last week. The Lions have been good this season beating the teams they’re supposed to beat. That says something about the talent level on this roster. Today is another chance to win another one of those games.
The improvement moving forward has to be against the league’s better opponents. Against teams in the playoffs, or still in the hunt for the postseason, the Lions were just 1-6 this season.
Detroit will look to finish strong at home today and end the season with a winning record. Then GM Bob Quinn and company will get to work trying to find the best way to beat more of the league’s elite teams.