In order for the Green Bay Packers (1-2) to keep their playoff aspirations alive, or not, today’s game certainly is a big game this early in the season.
A loss would put the Packers 2.5 games behind the Lions with Detroit holding the first tie-breaker (head-to-head), essentially giving the Lions a 3.5 game lead over Green Bay with the Packers only having played 4 games.
The Lions also have division wins over both Minnesota and Chicago.
A win by the Packers would bring them within a half a game of Detroit, with Green Bay holding the first tie breaker. This is the best example of one game being a two-game swing, because of the head-to-head tie-breaker.
Recent history tells us it would not be an insurmountable lead should the Lions win at Lambeau for the first time since 1991, but it would make ‘must win’ games down the road come much earlier this season with a Packers loss.
The Packers started out 2-3 last season, only to go 9-2 the rest of the way to win their second consecutive NFC North Division title. Conversely, Detroit started strong last year only to lose their final 8 games, once again finishing at the bottom of the division with a 4-12 record.
The Packers in their Super Bowl run won their final six games including post season, and then opened the next year ripping off 13 straight wins for a total of winning 19 games in a row.
On the flip side, a few years back (2001) the Chicago Bears started out fast, and everyone kept waiting for the Bears to fall back with the Pack, but that didn’t happen. The Bears went on to win (The NFC Central) with a 13-3 record, while Green Bay finished second at 12-4.
So … waiting and hoping for teams ahead of you to lose, or not controlling your own destiny the final quarter of the season, is not the scenario head coach Mike McCarthy would prefer. Winning between the lines has always been the surefire recipe for winning your own division, and Sunday is the perfect opportunity for Green Bay to get out ahead of this before they do have to start relying on someone else to help get them into the postseason.
After today’s game, Green Bay will play seven more games and the Lions 6 more (bye week) before seeing each other again on Thanksgiving day in Detroit. A Packers loss today would mean if the Pack would go 5-2 over those 7 games and the Lions went 2-4, Detroit would still be leading the Pack based on their head-to-head meeting today with each having 6-5 records. That’s a big IF, and that’s waiting and hoping someone else will help you out, and that’s not the Packers way.
The only way to keep from digging such a huge hole that would essentially take just about the rest of the season to catch up, Green Bay needs this one badly.
So is this a must win today for the Packers? Stat-wise and mathematically, no it isn’t. Reality says it may not be either but it is as close as you can get going into game four, unless you are one of those winless teams.
Go Pack Go!!