The Detroit Lions’ 2021 season comes to a close this Sunday with a matchup against one of the most hated teams in town, the Green Bay Packers. In Week 17, thet Packers clinched the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a 13-3 record after a dominant win over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday Night Football.
That leaves the Packers with nothing more to play for than pride and keeping fresh for the playoffs. The Lions, too, have little to play for, as they’ve wrapped up a top-two pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, and unless the Jaguars pull off a massive upset over a Colts team that is in a win-and-they’re-in scenario, Detroit will stay at pick No. 2 no matter what they do on Sunday.
Despite the small stakes, early indications are that the Packers will play most—if not, all—of their starters. Packers head coach Matt LaFleur admitted there are a lot of things to consider with this decision, but they’re leaning playing everyone on Sunday.
“Right now, the mindset is going into this, that we’re going to play our guys and we’re going to approach it like every other game,” LaFleur said. “I just think the reason behind that is I’m not comfortable having essentially a three-week layoff for our guys.”
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers agreed, saying after their win on Sunday night that the is planning on playing. He echoed those statements on Monday night when joining the ESPN “ManningCast” broadcast. Peyton Manning suggested there was no way Rodgers was going to play against the Lions, but Rodgers quickly snipped back.
“Yeah right, we’ll see about that,” Rodgers said.
From a Lions fan point of view, it’s hard to know what is preferrable here. No one wants to see the Lions get blown out by a rival, even if they are one of the best teams in the league. But a win—or worse, a loss—against a skeleton Packers crew wouldn’t bring much joy, either. Or maybe you’re holding out hope for that No. 1 pick, and a fully-rostered Packers team means Detroit is sure to lose. Or maybe you’re hoping the Lions can deliver a gut punch to the Packers’ starting lineup just as they head into the postseason.
So today’s Question of the Day is:
Do you want the Packers to play their starters on Sunday?
My answer: I do, but not for any of the reasons listed above.
There are two reasons I want the Packers to play their starters. For one, football is just easier on the eyes when teams aren’t sporting preseason lineups out there. As much as I’m ready for this season to end, I don’t like sleepwalking through a game as a fan or reporter. Watching good players play football is more fun than watching backups.
The other reason is it’s best for the Lions’ development. Detroit has a ton of young players that are likely to play this week, and what better learning experience than going up against some of the best players in the NFL? I want Ifeatu Melifonwu to go Round 2 vs. Davante Adams. I want Penei Sewell to go against Preston Smith and Rashan Gary. I want to see this defense get an opportunity to bounce back against one of the best running games in the league. Otherwise, it seems like we’re all wasting our time here.
So, yeah, even if it means Detroit getting their butts kicked by Aaron Rodgers again, I want starters vs. starters. It’s the best thing for the Lions’ future. And if, somehow, the Lions give the Packers a scare, or even a loss, even better.
Do you want the Packers to play their starters vs. Lions?