Plenty has changed since last Green Bay Packers-Detroit Lions meeting in mid-October

Sunday’s game: Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions, 1 p.m.; TV: Fox-U.P.



AP Sports Writer

There was actually a point this season when the Detroit Lions looked like real threats in the NFC North.

On Oct. 14, the Lions led 22-13 in the fourth quarter at Green Bay. A victory would have improved Detroit’s record to 3-1-1, but some questionable calls and a last-second field goal lifted the Packers to a come-from-behind win.

The Lions and Packers have certainly gone in different directions since then — so much so that their rematch Sunday to close out the regular season will have no impact on the division title. That already belongs to Green Bay. And Detroit has already wrapped up last place.

What is at stake this weekend is seeding. The Packers (12-3) have a chance to clinch a first-round bye with a win, and they could end up with home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs if they win and San Francisco loses at Seattle.

No matter what, Green Bay is headed to the postseason for the first time since the 2016 season.

“There’s really nothing like checking that first box on the goal list, winning your division,” quarterback Aaron Rodgers said. “Obviously it secures a home playoff game and now we’re playing for even more.”

The Detroit team the Packers will face is a lot different from the one that nearly won at Lambeau Field back in October. The Lions (3-11-1) have lost eight games in a row and could finish with the second-worst record in the league if they lose this weekend and Washington wins. Detroit has been without quarterback Matthew Stafford for the second half of its season, and he’s far from the only key player injured and unable to play.

If the Lions lose this finale, they’ll finish with their worst record since going 2-14 in 2009.

“I’d like to think that we’re playing for something every game. That’s my mindset,” Lions coach Matt Patricia said. “We’re trying to play to go win. Doesn’t matter what the situation is, doesn’t matter what the opponent is playing for, doesn’t matter anything other than — we’re trying to go out there and do the best job we can to give ourselves a chance to win.”


This is the fourth consecutive season the Lions have hosted the Packers to end the regular season. Green Bay won 31-24 at the end of the 2016 season in a game that decided the NFC North title. Detroit won 35-11 in 2017 and 31-0 last year, although there was less at stake in those meetings.


In this season’s first game between the teams, Green Bay won 23-22 thanks in part to two disputed calls against Detroit defensive end Trey Flowers. The Lions led 22-13 when a hands-to-the-face penalty gave Green Bay a first down. The Packers scored a touchdown and later got the ball back and drove for the winning field goal.

Green Bay would have had to try that field goal from farther out if not for another hands-to-the-face call. That penalty meant the Packers could run the clock all the way down before kicking.


With Stafford and Jeff Driskel injured, the Lions have gone with David Blough at quarterback. After an impressive first quarter on Thanksgiving against Chicago, he’s struggled, and his passer rating is now at 68.8.

The Lions have indicated they want to keep going with Blough this week, but with only one game remaining, it wouldn’t be a shock if Detroit gave 25-year-old Kyle Sloter a few snaps.