Well folks, we made it and I still feel weird saying it, but welcome to Week 18 of the NFL season.
And even though the Lions have recently received positive reviews from local and national media alike, the typical aches and pains associated with a rebuilding season have been ever present. But hey, it comes with a territory when a new regime is completely overhauling a roster. This is what happens when you tear a roster down to its studs.
It also doesn’t help that Lions have been devastated on the injury front since the year began, putting an even greater strain on an already young and inexperienced roster.
We will have plenty of time in the offseason to dissect what went on in the first year of the rebuild, but before we do that, can we stop and pause? Be present in the moment? Yes, the Lions only have won two games, and yes, they have gotten blown out more than few times now.
But most of us knew this year was going to be tough, and here we are, with the Lions more or less locked in at the second pick in the 2022 NFL draft. They could technically pick first, if the Jacksonville Jaguars do the unthinkable and manage to beat the Indianapolis Colts in a game that they need to win, but I’m not exactly counting on that to happen.
So, second overall it is. And the best part? Those of you who would rather the Lions lose late in the year in order to pick higher in the draft? You can cheer on the Lions to win in Week 18. Guilt free. No stress. One last time to watch your football team play until August.
Let’s take a closer look at how the Lions can end the Packers’ season on a sour note.
Pull out all the stops
This definitely has the makings of a game where head coach Dan Campbell could have a bunch of tricks up his sleeve.
The Packers have already stated they intend to play their starters, but for how long? That is all up for speculation. Either way, the Packers currently have one of the more complete rosters in the league, and at any given time, they will have multiple matchup advantages, all over the field.
I would expect for Campbell to pull out all the stops early, similar to the way the Lions approached the game against the Los Angeles Rams earlier in the season.
Fake punt in the first quarter while in your own territory? Sure. Let Jack Fox spin that thing.
Surprise onside kick? Why not.
Double reverse pass that culminates with Amon-Ra St. Brown finding Jamaal Williams open in the end zone? All 38,471 people in Ford Field might lose their voices.
You have nothing to lose here if you’re the Lions. They are a very young team, looking to end their season on a high note.
Give them their best shot at doing so.
Get the crowd into the game early
A lot of my first point coincides with this one, but if the Lions can make a few plays early and get out on the Packers, I think the crowd, as small as they have been this year, will really get into the game.
Lions fans haven’t had a lot to cheer for at home this season. But I’m telling you, I was there among friends for the game-winning catch St. Brown had against the Minnesota Vikings, and it got plenty loud, despite the empty seats.
Give the crowd something to cheer for early, and I think you have a chance of this young Lions team feeding off that energy. From there, maybe you catch the Packers, who already have the number one seed in the NFC playoffs locked up, on cruise control.