NFC Playoff picture: Week 17

Joy Montgomery
December 29, 2016

Now, the Lions have to rebound from back-to-back losses to beat a Green Bay team that has won five in a row with Aaron Rodgers finally getting back into his peak form.

Several of Green Bay's players have the know-how of finishing the deal. Not only that, but Philly almost handed the Cowboys their first loss back in Week 8 with them on the field, falling 29-23 in overtime after leading by 10 points in both the third and fourth quarters. But that was ancient history, just as Monday's loss should be by the time the Lions land back in Detroit. WR Golden Tate has two touchdowns in his past three games at home against the Packers. He completed 28-of-38 passes for 347 yards and four touchdowns and also ran for a touchdown before being lifted late in the fourth quarter with the Packers well ahead. He'll be facing one of the NFL's worst secondaries, and the Packers rank 26th in opponents' passer rating. That might be a more favorable matchup for the Packers at this point. If the Giants and Packers meet in the playoffs, Nelson against cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will be a key battle. Jordy Nelson caught nine of his passes for 154 yards and two scores. But even with little running game, Rodgers and his excellent receiving corps can carry the load.

Two AFC teams are locked into their current seeding: The Steelers will be the No. 3 seed and the Texans will be the No. 4 seed. RB James Starks still is in concussion protocol, but with Ty Montgomery and Christine Michael, his services aren't necessarily needed. Green Bay's offense, however, will likely be too much for Detroit to handle.

SNF averaged at least 21 million viewers for three consecutive December games for the first time since 2010.

If the Seahawks lose to the 49ers in Week 17, while the Packers beat the Lions, then Green Bay could grab the No. 3 seed in the NFC. If defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo can find ways to pressure Rodgers, the Giants can get home.

In fact, someone like quarterback Eli Manning could see significant time on the field. This is our 16th game of the year.

Hindsight: Ravens let Steelers slip by, 31-27
The contest will be played on Christmas afternoon, for one thing - the only Sunday day game on the NFL's Week 16 schedule. We've had our Christmas fun already, with the Cleveland Browns winning and maintaining the No. 1 pick due to a 49ers win.

The Packers have taken care of a lot just to get here. But that performance was atypical for the NFL's No. 9 rush defense.

Many times the conundrum of playing your starters is overblown because National Football League game-day rosters only include 46 players so many starters have to play.

Of course, the Packers still have to get to the postseason for that to be an issue.

Without Perry against Seattle and Chicago, the Packers had four total sacks. But to be safe, take the 2.5-point alternate line when backing Green Bay.

The Packers hope Rodgers can be on top of his game when they and the Lions close out the league's regular-season schedule in the nationally televised game on NBC.

Shaky: Packers kicker Mason Crosby is not exactly automatic.

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