Detroit Lions (10-5) at Green Bay Packers (14-1)
KICKOFF: Sunday, noon.
SURFACE: Natural grass.
TV: FOX, Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick, Laura Okmin.
SERIES HISTORY: 163rd regular-season meeting. Packers lead series, 90-65-7. Green Bay of late has dominated the league's longest-uninterrupted series. The Packers, who won 27-15 at Detroit on Thanksgiving Day, have won 11 of the last 12 meetings. The Packers have won 20 straight games at home against the Lions, a streak that dates to 1992 and includes a 16-12 victory in an NFC wild-card playoffs matchup in 1994. Green Bay is 2-0 against its division rival in the postseason
KEYS TO THE GAME: How well backup QB Matt Flynn operates the Green Bay offense might decide the outcome with the Packers expected to rest many key players. Lions FS Louis Delmas (knee) will be out for a fifth straight game, leaving lanes for Flynn to exploit in the middle of the field. The Packers' patchwork offensive line might get LT Chad Clifton back, but must hold its water or the Lions' active front seven could have a big day. QB Matthew Stafford and WR Calvin Johnson give Detroit the electrifying pitch-catch combo teams adjust their pass coverage to stop, which clears TEs Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler as well as emerging rookie WR Titus Young to work against single coverage.
FAST FACTS: The Lions' last win at Lambeau Field was in 1991. ... The Packers are 10-1 against the Lions in the Mike McCarthy era.
BY THE NUMBERS: 75 — Points the Packers would need to score in Sunday's regular-season finale against the Detroit Lions to shatter the 2007 New England Patriots' single-season league record of 589. Green Bay, which has a league-record-tying five games with at least 42 points, needs to score 42 to surpass the 1998 Minnesota Vikings' second-ranked total of 556. 91.2 — PK Jason Hanson has never won a game at Lambeau Field. He has been a member of the Lions for every one of the 20 straight losses dating back to 1992. But you can't put much of the blame on him. In 37 career games against the Packers he has made 62 of 68 field goals (91.2 percent) and scored 249 points. He has never missed an extra point and just two of the six field-goal misses were at Lambeau. 50 — Career field goals of 50-yards or more by Hanson; an NFL record. 3 — Number of times the Lions have come back from 17-point deficits; an NFL record.
GAME PLAN: What is fairly certain for this regular-season finale on the first day of 2012 is the Lions will be going all-in to try to get to 11-5 and clinch the No. 5 seed in the NFC playoffs, not to mention end their astounding 20-game losing streak to the Packers in Wisconsin. McCarthy, on the other hand, has been hard to read about what his true intentions are for his 14-1 team with homefield advantage throughout the NFC bracket in his back pocket.
The Packers only can deactivate seven of their 53 players, and they have some lingering injuries, so a number of key veterans will have to suit up. QB Aaron Rodgers should start the game, but the presumptive league MVP could be tagged out by Flynn before halftime. Whether it's Rodgers, Flynn or possibly third-stringer Graham Harrell by game's end, McCarthy won't deviate from the season-long approach of staying up-tempo and flinging the football around with the deep receiving corps, which will be without Greg Jennings (knee) for the third straight game.
What's more, the Packers, as they have most of the season, struggled to run the football in the Thanksgiving win at Detroit. Green Bay's 31st-rated defense, meanwhile, can do little right other than come up with a timely takeaway or two. An inability to stop the run has been a thorn in the Packers' side late in the season. The Lions have a prolific passing attack with Stafford at the controls and the nearly unstoppable Johnson running and leaping down the field and probably will look to attack what could be a patchwork defense if rest for some of Green Bay's starters is in order.
Stafford has played mistake-free football through the air during Detroit's three-game winning streak with zero interceptions and nine touchdowns, but he's also been sacked 10 times in that stretch. Then again, that latter number may not be in danger of going up if the Packers can't rectify their pass-rushing woes in their tune-up for the playoffs.
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