The Detroit Lions season is at a crossroads on Monday night: they win against the Packers or face the prospect of watching the playoffs.
Any Detroit Lions fan will attest that this year has been a roller coaster. From the high of a 3-1 start—and the one was a robbery by Dean Blandino’s boys in stripes—to the low of being 3-4 and facing a trip to the neighborhood bully’s house. Yes, that’s right: Green Bay.
The Frozen Tundra… Lambeau Field… the place where we’ve watched, literally, dozens of Detroit Lions seasons go to die. Every real fan knows it was decades—yes, decades—between Lions’ wins in Green Bay.
Brett Favre used to bury the Lions there every game. Aaron Rodgers has spent the better of his career doing the same thing. Even when Rodgers was hurt a few years ago, something called Matt Flynn earned a windfall by smashing an up-to-that-point decent Lions team for 500 yards.
This season hinges on Monday’s game. Trailing Minnesota by three wins, the Lions have to start putting a winning streak together. There is no better time (or place) to do it than in Green Bay on Monday night. A win would allow the Lions to move within two games of the Vikings. And because of that early season win over the Vikings, the Lions hold the early tie-breaker with the division leaders.
The Lions biggest advantage is actually their opponent’s weakness: Rodgers is out. That means the Lions are facing a team without a first-ballot Hall of Famer under center. Facing Brett Hundley shouldn’t frighten the Lions defense, and Defensive Coordinator Teryl Austin will make things tough on Hundley. That’s advantage Lions.
On the other side of the ball, though, the Lions seem to have forgotten how to put the ball in the end zone. If they can’t solve the Packer’s defense—which hasn’t exactly been terrorizing anyone this year—then the problems are deeper than just a few bad games against quality opponents. Offensive Coordinator Jim Bob Cooter’s rear-end will start feeling the warmth of a hot seat.
Taking a loss on Monday would be devastating. With a 3-5 record, the Lions would be three games out of the division lead, and would most likely be chasing a Wild Card spot. With a three-way mess shaping up in the NFC South (Carolina, New Orleans, and Atlanta all within a half game of one another) and two NFC West teams with 5-2 records, the race for one of those spots is going to be a tough climb, as well.
After that 3-1 start, everyone was thinking playoffs. Monday night will give us a much more vivid picture of our chances.