James Hawkins, John Niyo, Justin Rogers and Bob Wojnowski of The Detroit News offer predictions for Sunday’s Lions-Packers game at Ford Field (1 p.m., Fox/97.1).
► James Hawkins: On paper, the Packers don’t have much to play for in the finale. They’ve already locked up the NFC’s No. 1 seed and a first-round bye in the playoffs, but they still could play their starters for a quarter or two. The scrappy Lions, on the other hand, will be hungry to end the season on a high note. That’ll show in the second half when Amon-Ra St. Brown helps lead the charge past Green Bay’s backups. Lions, 21-20
► John Niyo: This’ll look and feel more like a preseason game, though attendance won’t be quite that low. But the outcome may depend on how long Matt LaFleur really does stick with his starters. Once things go off-script, the Lions should have a chance to keep it close and maybe finish this long, painful season on a positive note. Lions, 23-21
► Justin Rogers: Jared Goff is expected to play, which should provide a boost to Detroit’s chances. Then again, the status of both offensive tackles are up in the air after getting diagnosed with COVID on Monday. The starting lineup’s revolving door feels like a fitting way to end this turbulent season. As for the Packers, coach Matt LaFleur has announced his starters will play, despite already locking up the NFC’s top seed. How much playing time, particularly for guys like Aaron Rodgers and Aaron Jones, remains to be seen. If they play a quarter or a half, that bodes well for the Lions ending the year on a winning note. All that to say, this feels like throwing a dart far more than usual. Packers 27, Lions 20
► Bob Wojnowski: The 13-3 Packers are the NFC’s top seed so this is essentially a practice game. Aaron Rodgers, Davante Adams and other starters might play a bit to avoid rust, but it’s a perfect chance to rest Rodgers’ ailing toe. For the Lions, it’s another casting call to see who might be asked back. No one has done more for his future than Amon-Ra St. Brown, with 43 receptions the past five games. Dan Campbell gradually is getting the hang of this play-calling thing, and no matter who’s at quarterback, the Lions have more motivation. They’re not likely to get the No. 1 pick because the Jaguars aren’t likely to beat the Colts, so might as well go ahead and win it. Lions, 27-23