American Football

2022 NFL Week 18: Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers

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2022 NFL Week 18: Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers
Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

Win and in is the name of the game.

The Green Bay Packers will be facing off against the Detroit Lions this week in a game that was flexed to Sunday Night Football following the Packers’ win against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 17. With the win and the Washington Commanders’ loss, Green Bay is in “win and in” playoff position going into the final weekend of the regular season. Meanwhile, the Lions need to beat the Packers and for the Seattle Seahawks to lose to the Los Angeles Rams to earn Detroit a playoff spot.

Green Bay opened up as a 4.5-point favorite on DraftKings earlier in the week with an implied probability that they win the game around 68 percent of the time. The Seahawks are also favored and carry an implied probability that they’ll beat the wounded Rams 74 percent of the time. In all likelihood, the Lions won’t be playing for the postseason by the time kickoff rolls around, but we won’t officially know that until the clocks hit zero in the late slate.

Headed into this game, here are some topics to keep an eye on:

  • Keisean Nixon’s historic pace has kept going. Already the most consistent kick returner in franchise history, Nixon is one game away from becoming just the third player in NFL history to post eight consecutive regular-season games with 95-plus kickoff return yards. Nixon (groin) also didn’t practice at all last week, which limited his total snaps in the game to just three kickoff return reps. Keep an eye on his progress this week, as Nixon also has been the preferred starter in the nickel spot for Green Bay. In place of Nixon on defense, the Packers primarily played starting safety Darnell Savage in the slot against the Vikings, which brought Rudy Ford off the bench in nickel and dime packages.
  • Head coach Matt LaFleur is 18-1 in the months of December and January in the regular season. His only late-season loss in his career was to the Lions in Week 18 of last season when the Packers chose to rest their starters for the second half of the game with the NFC’s top seed wrapped up. Green Bay only needs to take care of business and that’s who LaFleur has been his entire career.
  • Right tackle Yosh Nijman played the first two series against the Vikings but was replaced by rookie Zach Tom from that point on. According to LaFleur, Nijman was healthy enough to return to the offensive side of the ball, but after back-to-back weeks with an in-game injury, the team elected to play Tom. Nijman had a shoulder injury in Week 16 and the team has yet to disclose what happened to him in Week 17.
  • Kicker Ramiz Ahmed was called up from the practice squad last weekend and was expected to take over kickoff duties for veteran Mason Crosby, who has been struggling at the assignment all season. While Crosby’s accuracy is still there, his leg strength was highlighted by his 56-yard attempt hitting the crossbar against the Vikings. Only 23 percent of the Packers’ kickoffs have ended in touchbacks this year, the worst mark in the league. Ahmed never got a chance to kick off against Minnesota, though, as he was injured (groin) in pre-game warmups. Will the team call him up against the Lions to try to steal a few yards for their defense?
  • Lions quarterback Jared Goff hasn’t thrown an interception since he last played the Packers. His last interception was in Week 9 and he’s gone on to throw 278 passes for 186 completions (67 percent), 2,173 yards (7.8 yards per attempt) and 15 touchdowns since then. Green Bay benefitted greatly from turnovers in the last few weeks, which has driven their four-game win streak, but expecting that to continue against Detroit seems unrealistic based on Goff’s recent level of play.

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