After carefully evaluating the possible matchups to be featured on Sunday Night Football in Week 18, the league decided to choose the Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers game. A playoff spot will be on the line in this contest. In Week 17, Detroit throttled the Chicago Bears, winning by a final score of 41-10. Similarly, Green Bay easily dispatched of the Minnesota Vikings last week, winning 41-17 at home.
During the first matchup between Green Bay and Detroit, the Lions came out on top 15-9.
Let’s take a look at three keys to the game that will help decide who qualifies for the NFC postseason.
Dillon’s Drive To The Finish
One of the most talented backfields in the NFL belongs to the Packers, who feature Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon. There’s always a lot of discussion about which player deserves more touches on a weekly basis. Earlier in the season, it seemed like Jones was the more effective back, as he provided explosive plays more consistently. However, the balance of power seems to have shifted to Dillon as the season winds down.
Dillon has scored six touchdowns in his last five games, including a scoring scamper against the Vikings last week. He’s the more solidly built of the two backs, and appears to be the preferred options when the Packers get close to the endzone. He’s also seen increased volume in the passing game, seeing three of more targets in four of the last five games.
Just like Green Bay does, Detroit deploys a backfield by committee to keep players fresh and force defenses to guess who will be in there on any given play. One of the most fun storylines to follow this season has been the play of Lions running back Jamaal Williams, who has scored a league leading 15 touchdowns on the ground this season.
This has caused many people to wonder about how former second round pick D’Andre Swift fits into the equation. Earlier in the season, his workloads were reduced in order to keep him healthy, but then it felt like he became an afterthought. Last week, Swift reminded fans what he could do. He ran for 78 yards and scored a touchdown. Swift may be in line for more carries against Green Bay after that performance.
Taking Care Of The Ball
One of the most basic principles in the NFL involves winning the turnover battle against your opponent. During these two teams’ first meeting in November, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw three interceptions. They came at costly times during the game, when it seemed like Green Bay was going to come away with points.
The fortunes of the team have changed dramatically since then, and it seems like Rodgers is finally starting to build a rapport with his receivers. That chemistry will be put to the test against the Lions, who are looking to replicate the same formula they used to secure victory in the first game.