I’m all in on the Rams this weekend. I want them to put a fork in Pete Carroll and the Seahawks.
I know what you’re thinking: But Dave, that means the Packers-Lions game is a win-and-in scenario. Just what NBC is praying for. Detroit would have massive motivation when they step onto the field on Sunday night.
Yep, plenty of motivation along with plenty of pressure. Just think about it. Dan Campbell will have this team motivated no matter what happens in Seattle. If Seattle dispatches the Rams and keeps its own playoff hopes alive, Campbell will step in front of his team moments before kickoff, look his dejected players in the eyes and say something like this (minus the expletives):
Hey! Why all the long faces? Do you guys know the opportunity in front of you right now? You’re about to play a game on the hallowed grounds of Lambeau Field, the most legendary, historic place in the NFL. It’s Sunday Night Football. The world is watching. You know the last time the Lions played a game on Sunday Night Football? Me neither. And we get a chance to send Aaron Rodgers and his puke green clad teammates home for the season.
Okay, we’re not getting into the playoffs. We have the worst defending Super Bowl champs in NFL history to thank for that. We’re not playing again next week. So this is our playoff game. Let’s leave it all out there. Let’s chew on some kneecaps and let’s wave good-bye to Aaron Freaking Rodgers and the Packers and let the world know there’s a new world order coming to the NFC North in 2023!
If the Lions take the field knowing their playoff dreams are dashed, they’ll play loosey-goosey. They’ll still play their hearts out and they’ll pull out all the stops. What have they got to lose? No one outside of Michigan (and some delusional Minnesota Vikings fans) actually believe Jared Goff on the road in frigid conditions is going to outduel Rodgers and beat the red-hot Packers, right?
But if Seattle loses to the Rams, and it won’t surprise me one bit if they do, now this game means everything to the Lions. Everything they dreamed about when the cameras of Hard Knocks were rolling in August is right in front of them. And they can accomplish it on the NFL’s biggest stage, Sunday Night Football, against their oldest rivals, a team that has treated them like gum on their shoes for the last 30-plus years.
Do you believe they’re ready to handle that moment? I don’t. The Lions have the potential to be the team to beat in the North in the coming years if they land on the right franchise quarterback. They have plenty of draft capital this year to choose one, and if he’s the real deal, the Lions are on their way.
They’ve been very feisty at home, though the Pack gift-wrapped a 15-9 victory in November, thanks to a couple of Rodgers red zone picks. They’re a different team on the road and they’ve always been a different team in cold weather.
So give me a Lions team with something to play for, instead of a Lions team playing the role of spoiler. I like Green Bay’s chances either way, but when it’s just about pride? Well, a pride of Lions can be awfully dangerous.