The Green Bay Packers (11-4) and Detroit Lions (11-4) have already clinched playoff berths, but both teams still have a lot to play for in their final regular season game. Their Week 17 matchup will determine the winner of the NFC North, giving one team a bye and forcing the other to go on the road in the first round of the playoffs.
Five NFC teams are tied for the best record in the conference, and the tiebreaker scenarios have placed extra importance on this season finale. No matter what else happens on Sunday, the loser will get the No.6 seed, and the winner will get no worse than the No.2 seed.
Both teams have a chance at getting the No.1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the postseason, though they will need some help. A win for Green Bay and a loss for the Seattle Seahawks would give the Packers the top seed. Detroit needs a win, as well as losses for both Seattle and the Arizona Cardinals, in order to get the No.1 seed. The Seahawks are a heavy favorite over the visiting St. Louis Rams and the Cardinals are a decided underdog in their road game against the San Francisco 49ers.
The two teams met in Week 3, and because the Lions were victorious, they’d win the division in the event of a tie. Detroit held Green Bay to a season-low seven points, limiting Aaron Rodgers to 162 passing yards and the Packers’ run game to just 76 yards. Despite the result of their early season matchup, Green Bay is expected to come out on top, giving the visiting Lions 7.5 points at Las Vegas casinos.
The Packers have been an average team on the road, going 4-4 and being outscored by 17 total points. At Lambeau Field, Green Bay is undefeated in 2014, winning four games by at least 21 points.
Rodgers might be the NFL’s leading MVP candidate, largely, because of the way he’s played at home.The quarterback hasn’t exactly struggled on the road, posting a passer rating of 94.2, but his numbers in Green Bay are historic. In seven home games, Rodgers has thrown 23 touchdowns and no interceptions, recording a passer rating of 132.6.
Green Bay’s running game is also much better on the Frozen Tundra. Eddie Lacy’s yards per carry increases from 4.3 on the road to 5.2 at home. James Starks averages 4.1 yards per rush in Green Bay and 3.5 yards per attempt on the road.
Detroit’s defense has been among the best in football all year, no matter where the games have been played. The Lions rank second in the league, allowing 16.8 points per game, and they've allowed more than 24 points just once. The over/under is 47.5, though the Packers have scored at least 42 points in four home games.
The Lions’ defense has carried them, and they’ve been able to win, despite the struggles of Matthew Stafford. He’s failed to rank in the top 15 in passer rating (20th), completion percentage (22nd) and touchdowns (16th). He’s connected with Calvin Johnson for over 100 yards in three of the last four games.
Prediction: Green Bay over Detroit, 31-21