When Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur met with the media today, he made his message clear: The Packers’ starters will play against the Detroit Lions. Yesterday, following Green Bay’s one-seed clinching win against the Minnesota Vikings, LaFleur stated that he hadn’t given much thought to playing or resting in Week 18, but his “gut is these guys are gonna play at least a little bit next week.”
Today, LaFleur said, “Right now, the mindset is we’re going to play our guys and we’re going to approach it like any other game,” echoing the thoughts that quarterback Aaron Rodgers and receiver Davante Adams had post-game. Rodgers is chasing the Most Valuable Player Award while Adams is close to breaking the Packers’ season-long receiving yardage record.
Who knows how long the starters will actually play against the Lions, a game that does not impact the Packers’ future in the postseason, in terms of seeding, but at least Green Bay has been clear that the team will play its starters against Detroit this week.
LaFleur also stated that the hope is that left tackle David Bakhtiari (knee) returns to practice this week and has a chance to play against the Lions. He also claimed that cornerback Jaire Alexander (shoulder) could play against Detroit even without practice, due to his status on the reserve/Covid-19 list. On the surface, it looks like the Packers will use Week 18 as a test where their preferred playoff lineup is at before they take a week off during the wildcard round.