Skip to main content

O'HARA'S WEEK 18 PREVIEW: Lions treating Sunday Night Football matchup like a playoff game

The Detroit Lions started their practice week for one of the most important games of the last decade with a prayer, then did what they always do.

They got down to work.

Prayers were for Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin, who sustained a life-threatening injury in Monday night's game with the Cincinnati Bengals and is still in the hospital.

"We started with a prayer," said head coach Dan Campbell. "All of us in the room came together and did that."

Then it was back to work.

The Packers and Lions both have 8-8 won-loss records, but the Packers have a more clear-cut path to a wild card playoff berth. The Packers clinch one with a win.

The Lions need help, even with a win over the Packers. They also need the Seahawks to lose to the Rams.

The Lions-Packers game is on Sunday Night Football and starts at 8:20.

The 4:25 start for the Rams-Seahawks game means the Lions will know before kickoff of their game if they have a chance to make the playoffs with a win over the Packers.

Regardless of importance, Campbell wants his players to take advantage of playing in primetime.

"We've got nothing to lose here," Campbell said "We go in, we cut it loose. And let's have the time of our life. Let's find a way to win this game."

"We get to be on this big stage. Our guys are excited about that. We get to play one more game. At the very least, we're playing one more game."

Playoff showdown or not, running back D’Andre Swift is ready for a meaningful game.

"It's a playoff game in my eyes," he said.

Packers view: Head coach Matt LaFleur sees more than the weather and Lambeau Field's famed frozen tundra as assets that can help the Packers in a key game.

In LaFleur's opinion, it's the atmosphere that sets Lambeau apart from other football stadiums.

"It really doesn't matter, but I do think the environment at Lambeau Field at night time is unlike any other place," LaFleur said this week. "Hopefully, our fans show up and show out for us and support us. Don't sell your tickets to Lions fans, please."

It hasn't been a vintage year for the Packers or their quarterback, Aaron Rodgers.

The Packers, who are tied with the Lions with an 8-8 win-loss record, are coming off three straight seasons of 13 wins. They had to win their last four games to get in a tie with the Lions.

The Lions' receivers, tight ends and backs out of the backfield will give the Packers a strong test.

LaFleur had praise for the Lions' offensive line, saying it ranked in the top two in the league with the Eagles, and for wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown.

"He's a tough competitor," LaFleur said. "He's a dog – just his ability to win his one-on-ones and to make touch catches. He's a scrappy dude.

"You look at the supporting cast around him -- it's getting better and better."

View photos of the starters for the Green Bay Packers.

Lions keys:

Offense -- run the ball: The Lions revived their running game last week with 265 yards against the Bears. When they're productive on the ground it sets up the passing game and keeps pass rushers off quarterback Jared Goff. The payoff on that is the opportunities Goff has to spread the ball to his receivers. When it's all clicking, it's a deadly attack.

Defense -- stop the run: The Packers have gotten big numbers out of their running back duo of Aaron Jones (1,070 yards) and A.J. Dillon (737) to take some of the pressure off Rodgers. Rodgers had three interceptions in the loss to the Lions in Week 9. His 11 interceptions are the most since he had 11 in 2010 – the season the Packers won their last Super Bowl.

Overall -- do what got the Lions to this point: Dominate on offense, protect the football and pressure the quarterback with an improved pass rush. "It's not the same old Lions," Rodgers said after the Packers win over the Vikings Sunday.

Packers-Lions pick: Packers favored by 4.5.

The Lions have been better on offense, and their defense has improved. That adds up to a win.

My pick: Lions 30, Packers 20.

Related Content