Free Press sports writers give their predictions for the Detroit Lions‘ game on Sunday night at the Green Bay Packers … and the ever-important L.A. Rams-Seattle Seahawks game on Sunday afternoon:
Lions vs. Packers
Dan Campbell said Friday this is the type of special game players will remember for the rest of their careers: Sunday Night Football, the final game of the regular season, with a playoff berth potentially on the line. The Lions have embraced the magnitude of this week, and I think they’re a slightly better team than the Packers. They can win running or throwing the ball, their pass rush is a weapon and they’ve been opportunistic taking the ball away with their defense. I don’t think they’ll shrink if this turns out to be a win-and-get-in game. But there’s a human side to this, too. If the Seattle Seahawks beat the Los Angeles Rams in their 4:25 p.m. game, the Packers will be the only team with something on the line. The Lions won’t lie down, but that’s a tough hurdle to overcome. I think Seattle beats a decimated Rams team to win its ninth game, and the trickle down from that is that Rodgers and the Packers will sneak past the Lions in what should be an exciting night. The pick: Packers 28, Lions 27.
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After the Seahawks win and eliminate the Lions, of course the Lions will win convincingly so they can enter the offseason feeling good about themselves but also kicking themselves with a bunch of what-if scenarios. What a shame. If this happens, the NFL Fraud Department should remove the Vikings from the playoffs and insert the Lions as the seventh seed. The pick: Lions 31, Packers 25.
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The Packers are surging with four consecutive victories and now they have a chance to clinch a playoff spot at home. In this situation, bet on Aaron Rodgers over an up-and-coming Lions team that hasn’t quite matured into a full-fledged winner. The pick: Packers 30, Lions 23.
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This is not the same Green Bay team that the Lions beat earlier this year. Yeah, so what? It’s not the same Lions team either. Just once, the Lions will get the calls. Just once, everything will align. Goodbye Green Bay. You had a fun run. Hello, Lions. And would you look at that – what the heck? – the Lions will be heading to the playoffs. The pick: Lions 31, Packers 28.
The Packers are playing their best ball if the season — naturally. Which means one thing: it’s a conspiracy. Or maybe just that the Packers running game has improved and the young receivers are connecting with Aaron Rodgers. By the way, this is still Aaron Rodgers, has Dan Campbell pointed out this week. The Lions are ready to compete on the stage. But winning on the stage on the road against the quarterback who has done it before is a little too big of an ask. The pick: Packers 26, Lions 23.
Rams vs. Seahawks
When you’re asking for Baker Mayfield to work some magic to save the Lions’ playoff hopes, you’re probably asking for too much. The Rams’ best hope is for their mediocre defense to come up with some turnovers and have their putrid offense win a low-scoring game. But the 12th Man ain’t gonna let that happen with the playoffs on the line. The pick: Seahawks 30, Rams 17.
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The Rams have lost most of their firepower and have nothing to play for after their Super Bowl honeymoon quickly turned into a nightmare. With a playoff spot on the line and rowdy crowd behind them in one of the NFL’s most rambunctious environments, the Seahawks should prevail. The pick: Seahawks 24, Rams 17.
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Cam Akers has rushed for more than 100 yards in two straight games for the Rams. He’ll keep the Rams in this game, and Baker Mayfield — yes, freakin’ Baker Mayfield — will deliver the game-winning drive. OK, so it will hurt the Lions draft pick. But who cares? It will set the stage for one magical Sunday night in Green Bay. The pick: Rams 28, Seahawks 27.
The Rams played the Seahawks tough in their first meeting. And if the Rams were healthy, well, they might be playing for a lot more than to help the Lions. Baker Mayfield gives the Rams a chance. It’s not quite enough. The pick: Seahawks 24, Rams 19.