The Detroit Lions enter their final game of the 2019 season with little at stake other than draft position. Here are three reasons to watch anyway.
The Detroit Lions have little to play for entering Week 17 of the 2019 NFL regular season. And fans have little to no reason to watch. Outside of the possibility that the Lions could move up to the number two overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft or drop all the way down to the fifth pick, the outcome of this matchup against the hated Green Bay Packers is virtually meaningless to Motown.
Still, true fans don’t choose the teams they love and support. They are hopelessly tied to them regardless of the standings. If you find yourself looking for reasons to watch the Lions take on the Packers this Sunday, here are three reasons to do so.
Suddenly, who the backup quarterback is to Matthew Stafford has become shockingly relevant. For years, Stafford’s durability saw him start a streak of games that left fans assured to see him under center week after week.
But after suffering back injuries in back-to-back seasons, this year resulting in actual missed games (8) for the first time since 2010, the backup to Stafford has become a major area of concern.
Is that player rookie quarterback David Blough? Did the Lions see enough from Jeff Driskel to believe he’s capable of carrying the load if needed? Will Detroit use a draft selection in order to better secure the position in 2020?
These are all suddenly relevant questions that will be asked this offseason. Against the Packers on Sunday, it appears Blough will get another chance to prove he has the potential to fill that role. A breakout performance against a hated divisional rival could go a long way for the rookie passer. It might also be interesting to see if third-year passer Kyle Sloter finally gets some time to show what he’s got in this final contest.
Preventing Packers’ first-round bye
Although the Lions would likely benefit more from losing this matchup when it comes to their draft standing next year, a win by Detroit could prevent the NFC North champion Green Bay Packers from getting a first-round bye.
The Packers are looking to lock up home-field advantage throughout the entirety of the NFC playoffs and need a victory over the Lions and a loss by the San Francisco 49ers to the Seattle Seahawks in order to do so.
For Detroit, a loss to Green Bay and a Washington Redskins win over the favored Dallas Cowboys would give the Lions the number two overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft and likely their only shot of drafting Ohio State pass rusher Chase Young.
Final game for Darius Slay?
Despite being under contract through 2020, three-time Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay could very well be playing his final game for Detroit. Slay skipped a portion of this year’s offseason training program in an attempt to get a contract extension that never materialized. Combined with the fact there were reports of several teams being interested in trading for the soon-to-be 29-year old corner, and it seems Slay’s time in the Motor City may be coming to an end.