The Green Bay Packers hit the scheduling lottery for their Sunday night showdown at Detroit.
The Packers played at noon Saturday at home against Minnesota. The Lions played on Monday night at Dallas. That’s about 55 hours of rest in the Packers’ favor. And that’s not including the total amount of downtime. During a conference call on Wednesday morning, Lions receiver Golden Tate said he didn’t get home until about 5 a.m. Tuesday. Green Bay’s players probably got home before 5 p.m. on Saturday. That’s about a 60-hour difference.
“I love it today,” coach Mike McCarthy said on Monday. “It was a challenge on the front side of it. Any time you get into those six-day weeks and things like that this late in the season, it’s obviously a pull. I just go off what our own personal experience has been playing 10 straight games coming out of a Thursday night game against Chicago. That’s a grind. That’s the first time we’ve had to do that. That makes a big difference. We made it through. Having the extra day will benefit us, I hope. We’re going to use it, that’s for sure and really just focus on the mental aspect of it and get ready for the Lions.”
Lions coach Jim Caldwell had no interest in creating excuses for his team. Did the Lions get the un-luck of the draw? No doubt about it. Is Caldwell going to say that? Not a chance.
“It really doesn’t matter,” Caldwell said during his conference call on Wednesday morning. “That’s one of the things that people look (at) for built-in excuses. We don’t make that as an excuse. We’ve played a lot on short weeks, we’ve played Thanksgiving Day games every single year. That’s a short week. It’s a lot shorter than this one that we’re dealing with. We don’t complain about it, we don’t worry about it. All we do is get prepared.”
While Caldwell is right about his team’s Thanksgiving history, that’s a level playing field of teams with Sunday-to-Thursday transitions. This is not a level playing field with Green Bay getting the bonus rest.
“It has no bearing on our preparation,” Caldwell said when that fact was pointed out. “It has no bearing in terms of how we view this game.”
To have a chance to play for a division title is worth the grueling schedule, Tate said.
“It could be tough for a few guys, but it's the cards that we were dealt,” Tate said. “If you would've said at the beginning of the season that going into Week 17 we were going to be playing that game for our division, I would've taken it no matter on what day we played or what the circumstances were. I think the best thing we can do is not complain about the days (off) that we've had or didn't have and just go out there and play ball. We've got a lot on the line now, so just go out there and try to play the best game we can and not worry about the things we can't control like how the schedule falls for us or against us.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.