Every week during the regular season we get an opportunity to talk with the opposing head coach via conference call. This week it was Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur. I also scanned the Green Bay media websites and the Packers website to see what else Packers players and coaches are saying about this week's matchup with the Lions in the regular-season finale Sunday at Ford Field.
Here's what they had to say:
1. Don't expect the Packers to take the Lions lightly, despite going into the game as 12.5-point road favorites.
"I think our guys understand what's at stake," LaFleur told packers.com Tuesday, as the Packers need a win in Week 17 to secure a first-round bye and stay in the hunt for the NFC's No. 1 seed.
"This game has huge implications," he said. "You get that bye you're automatically one round further in the playoffs, and certainly we'd love for every game to come through Lambeau."
Packers outside linebacker Preston Smith told packers.com that no one in the locker room is riding on a high horse after winning the division. He says the locker room has done a good job refocusing and looking toward a bigger goal on Sunday.
2. Consider LaFleur a big fan of Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay.
"Big, tall, rangy guy," LaFleur said of Golladay during Thursday's conference call. "Legit true No. 1 receiver in this league."
Golladay leads the NFL with 11 touchdown grabs on the year and has 1,118 receiving yards.
3. Detroit's defense could be seeing much more of Packers running back Aaron Jones. LaFleur told the Wisconsin State Journal it might be time for Jones to see his snap count increase. He's played in under 60 percent of the snaps this year, splitting time with Jamaal Williams, who suffered a shoulder injury Monday against the Vikings.
Jones rushed for 154 yards Monday, including 21 and 56-yard touchdown runs. He enters Sunday 16 yards shy of his first 1,000-yard season. He has 16 rushing touchdowns on the year and has also caught 47 passes for 431 yards and three more scores.
The Lions gave up 150 rushing yards to Denver last week.
4. LaFleur said all he had to do was put on the film of Green Bay's Week 6 win over the Lions, a game in which the Packers needed a last-second field goal to secure that victory, to see how seriously his players need to take Sunday.
It's obviously a very different Lions team the Packers are playing this week, down quarterback Matthew Stafford and other key weapons that played in the first game, but LaFleur is making certain the Packers won't be looking past the Lions Sunday.
5. LaFleur is an offensive-minded coach, so he can certainly appreciate the job Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell's done this season have to navigate through all the injuries, including starting three different quarterbacks. LaFleur said he's always had a ton of respect for Bevell, and that Bevell's done as "good as anyone could do" in that situation.
View photos from Detroit Lions practice on Thursday, Dec. 26, 2019.
6. What's been the key to Green Bay's success this season? The Packers have won 12 games and can clinch a first-round bye with a win Sunday. LaFleur said it's really as simple as staying relatively healthy all year and getting a few bounces their way in some close games.