It's the last game for both teams. Both teams are trying to end the season on a high note. The Packers have lost 5 in a row and 7 of their last 8. Everyone knows about Detroit's epic string of losses (16 going back to December 23, 2007). In their last win, they beat Kansas City 25-20, which was in the middle of an epic 12 game losing streak for the Chiefs. The last time Detroit beat a good team was the 44-7 pasting they put on Denver back on November 4, 2007. Detroit was just finishing up a 3 game winning streak with that win over Denver.
Detroit has been overmatched all season. But they've hung around in a few games this season. Two weeks ago they were tied at Indianapolis in the 4th quarter. Detroit hasn't won at Lambeau since 1991 and this year's squad has given no indication that they are up to the task. Detroit might rally and show some signs of life, like they did in week 2 at Detroit when they managed to come back from a 21-0 deficit and claim a 25-24 lead against the Packers. But don't expect them to win this one. Packers 31, Detroit 21.
The official NFL rankings from NFL.com:
One thing that stands out is that both teams have lousy run defenses. You can sneak by with a lousy pass defense. Looking at the current rankings from NFL.com, 5 of the worst pass defenses (San Diego, NY Jets, Chicago, Denver, Miami) enter week 17 with a legitimate chance to make the playoffs. The worst 5 run defenses in the NFL (Detroit, Oakland, K.C., Cleveland, St. Louis) are 5 of the worst teams in the league. It's almost impossible to win if you can't stop the run.
Detroit isn't that bad at running the ball. Rookie RB Kevin Smith has had a good season. What really hurts their rushing stats is that they've given a bunch of carries to awful RB Rudi Johnson and they attempt fewer than 22 carries per game which is the 2nd lowest amount in the league. Smith can be productive if they give him enough carries. But he tied his career high last week with 24 carries against New Orleans, and they lost 42-7 anyway.
Detroit is starting QB Dan Orlovsky, who hasn't been awful. It helps that he has one great receiver in WR Calvin Johnson. At Chicago in early November, Orlovsky threw for 292 yards and 2 TDs. Don't be shocked if Orlovsky has some success at Lambeau.
It's been a disappointing season for RB Ryan Grant. But he's been much better in the 2nd half of the season and Detroit's run defense is as bad as it looks. He better average over 4 yards/carry and have a couple big runs.
It would be a shock if QB Aaron Rodgers has a bad game. His career highs for yards (328) and TDs (3) in a game came against Detroit in week 2. He's been great over the last four losses with completion percentages over 61% and QB ratings over 87.