NFC North Matchup

The Green Bay Packers are heading back to the playoffs, but they'd love to pick up some momentum before the regular season ends.

The Packers will try to bounce back from a discouraging loss on Sunday when they meet the Detroit Lions, who have lost their annual trip to Lambeau Field every year since 1991 - the year before Brett Favre came to Green Bay.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Green Bay –3.5 point spread favorites (View NFL Football odds) for Sunday’s game, the over/under has been set at 38.5 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 83% of bets for this game have been placed on Green Bay –3.5 (View NFL Football bet percentages).

Green Bay (12-3) has missed out on the postseason the last two seasons, but won its last four games last season and carried that momentum into this season after Favre decided not to retire. The Packers had a chance at earning the NFC's top seed before losing 35-7 in frigid conditions in Chicago last weekend.

The defeat, along with Dallas' win over Carolina on Saturday, locked Green Bay into the No. 2 seed. The Packers are still assured of a first-round playoff bye and one home playoff game, but will play in Dallas if they face the Cowboys in the NFC title game.

"I think you need to take a step back like we have the past couple weeks, and revisit talking about handling success," Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said. "You're a 12-2 football team and you go down and play a football team that's out of the playoffs, they're a rival game, and to perform the way we did - that's something else we'll talk about."

Of course, considering the way they played in the cold weather in Chicago, a game in Dallas might not be the worst thing for the Packers.

"Sure, we'd much rather play them in Green Bay, but judging by the way we played today, we may be better off playing somewhere else," said Favre, who said the conditions in Chicago were the worst he had ever played in. "I have no idea. I do know this: It can be a distraction. Now we know what's at stake. Let this be our wake-up call."

Green Bay has thrived all season with a pass-heavy, precision-based offense, drawing questions about how well it would do when the weather turned. Favre has 4,056 passing yards this season, just the fifth time in his 17-year career that he has passed the 4,000-yard mark, but threw for just nine yards in the first half against Chicago and 153 overall with two interceptions.

However, Green Bay has also developed more of a running game of late. Ryan Grant ran for 100 yards against the Bears, including a 66-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

"I think we've shown the flexibility to run and pass the ball," McCarthy said. "I think if you had that opinion of us after Week 6, I'd totally agree with you, because I was concerned about the run game then. I am not now."

A game against the Lions (7-8) might be just what the Packers need to get back on track before the postseason begins. Green Bay has won 15 straight regular-season games against Detroit at Lambeau Field since a 21-17 loss on Dec. 15, 1991.

Overall, the Packers have won 12 of their last 14 games against the Lions, including a 37-26 win on Thanksgiving. Favre's 700 completions and 8,155 passing yards against Detroit are his best against any team.

Though his team's spot in the postseason is already assured, McCarthy said the Packers will "play to win the game" against Detroit.

The Lions snapped a six-game losing streak last Sunday, beating Kansas City 25-20. The win guaranteed Detroit wouldn't become the first NFL team to finish 6-10 after winning six of its first eight games and gave the Lions their most victories they've had in seven seasons under team president Matt Millen.

But even though they have a shot at reaching .500 for the first time since going 9-7 in 2000, the Lions are disappointed to be out of playoff contention after their fast start.

"It was great to get that win (Sunday), all those things, but the knife is still in you," coach Rod Marinelli told the Lions' official team Web site. "It hurts. It hurts, because my expectations are much higher."

Detroit held on to beat Kansas City after blowing a 19-point lead and letting the Chiefs get within two points in the fourth quarter. The defeat was costly, however, as running back Kevin Jones tore his knee ligament and is out for the season.

Jones, who has missed 10 games due to injuries since Detroit selected him in the first round of the 2004 NFL draft, could be out until the start of training camp in late July. He leads Detroit with 581 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns.

"He's been a warrior all year now," Marinelli said. "He's been special. He is tougher than nails and it means everything to him so you feel for the man."

T.J. Duckett, who rushed for a season-best 102 yards against Kansas City, should get the bulk of the carries against the Packers.

"To me, every game is so important to us right now," Marinelli said. "It is. That's a big game going into Lambeau, that's a big game for us. I'm going to make sure the players understand that. Plus, I want winning performances from them."

By: Staff Writers - Email Us

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