What are the Green Bay Packers' players and coaches talking about ahead of Sunday's monster Week 18 matchup against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field on Sunday Night Football? Let's find out:
1. Packers head coach Matt LaFleur is expecting a terrific environment at Lambeau Field. He also had a message for Packers fans to kick off the week.
"Hopefully our fans show up and show out for us and support us and don't sell your tickets to the Lions fans, please," LaFleur told the Packers media via packers.com on Monday.
2. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers is 19-7 in his career playing against Detroit, but even he admits something seems different about this Lions team this season.
"It's not the same old Lions," Rodgers said. "They were 1-6 at one point and they've come all the way back to 8-8 and there will be a lot on the line for both teams. It will be exciting to line up against them."
The Lions beat the Packers, 15-9, back in Week 9 in Detroit. Rodgers had three interceptions in that contest.
View photos of the starters for the Green Bay Packers.
3. One of the real catalysts behind Green Bay's current 4-0 stretch of football to put themselves at 8-8 and in control their own playoff destiny with a win against Detroit has been the improved play of their defense and special teams.
Rodgers said they're a more dangerous team now because they are playing much better complementary football than they were early on in the year. The Packers' defense has forced 12 turnovers during their current four-game win streak. Defense and special teams put 14 points on the board Sunday before the offense had recorded its second first down of the game. The last time the Packers had a kickoff return TD and interception return TD in same game was Oct. 30, 1967, per packers.com.
4. LaFleur had a lot of good things to say about the way Lions quarterback Jared Goff and the offense has been playing. He said Detroit has one of the best offenses in the league. He was particularly complimentary of Detroit's offensive line.
"We know that certainly they have one of the best offensive lines in the National Football League," LaFleur said. "I would say Detroit and Philly. Those are arguably the two best."
On the offense as a whole: "It's an explosive offense. I think they do a great job schematically and present a lot of challenges."
5. The Packers haven't had good or consistent special teams play, particularly in their return and cover units, for a number of years, but that seems to be changing under new special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia. Green Bay is much improved covering kickoffs and punts, but the real difference maker on teams for them has been the return ability of Keisean Nixon, who leads the NFL in kick-return average (30.0) and had a 105-yard touchdown for the Packers last week and a 93-yard return the week prior vs. Miami.
"He's special. He's so sudden," Packers kicker Mason Crosby said of Nixon. "The guys, like we saw for a long time with Devin Hester, you sense that urgency for guys to get on their blocks and execute the plays really well. He is just electric. It's fun to watch. He makes a hard cut and he's just gone."
6. The Packers will certainly have a plan in place to try and slow down Lions talented slot receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown, who caught his 100th pass of the season last week in Detroit's win over Chicago, and who has 1,112 receiving yards on the season.
"This guy, he is a tough competitor," LaFleur said of St. Brown. "He is a dawg. His ability to win his one-on-ones, to make tough catches, to get YAC (yards after catch), he is a scrappy dude. I think he has a great rapport with Jared (Goff) and they've made a lot of plays together."