By Gabriel Cervantes (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia CommonsThe Green Bay Packers return from their Week 10 vacation to take on the Detroit Lions in a Week 11 marquee divisional showdown, but is this a must-win for the Packers?
The short answer is absolutely.
If we expand the analysis, however, we see a much bigger picture. This game is not only a must win contest for the green and gold, it’s a golden opportunity the Pack must take advantage of.
For starters, the Green Bay Packers compete in the most competitive division the NFL has to offer. Each member of the NFC North is separated by a single game and the NFC North is the only division in the NFL that hosts three teams with winning records.
But the parity is only the tip of the iceberg.
With a victory against the Detroit Lions the Packers can all but eliminate Detroit from the playoff equation—for the most part. By defeating Detroit, the Packers can preserve their one-game lead over the Minnesota Vikings which is paramount right now.
Finding success against Detroit will afford the Packers a chance to end the week in a divisional tie with the Chicago Bears who will be without their star quarterback Jay Cutler—a situation that lessens Chicago’s chance of a victory over the vaunted San Francisco 49ers.
But it all starts this week at Ford Field.
The Packers will , however, enter this showdown with a bit of good fortune on their side. Since 1990, Green Bay has a .605 winning percentage after the bye week (14-9) and have won 9 out of their last 11 post bye-week contests.
Not too shabby.
But crossing this bridge will be no easy feat. Detroit is also in must-win mode after suffering a devastating loss to Minnesota last week. After spending an entire week licking their wounds, the injured Lions will look to bounce back on their own grounds where they are a respectable 2-1.
Not to mention they face Detroit without WR Greg Jennings—more details can be found here.
Additionally, if we widen the view and take a look ahead, we find the highway ahead of the Packers just as treacherous as the road at their feet with another away game against the Giants and a bigger divisional showdown against those pesky Vikings (at home) the following week.
This is a situation that can go incredibly well or horribly wrong, but again, it all starts this week at Ford Field.
The bottom line is this: The Green Bay Packers have a plethora of opportunities to take advantage of; opportunities that can certainly help their forward progress towards a postseason berth.
Winston Churchill once said “Difficulties mastered are opportunities won” which pretty much sums up the path ahead of Green Bay.
Is this a must-win game for Green Bay? I don’t know how it's not.
[box] Game Box Details:
-Green Bay has won their last two meeting against Detroit ( Nov. 24, 2011: GB 27, DET 15; Jan. 1, 2012: Packers 45, Lions 41)
-Green Bay leads series 91-65-7
-Green Bay is 7-3 at Ford Field
Noteworthy Mention: •Packers LG Evan Dietrich-Smith will get the start in place of T.J. Lang who is starting at RT for the injured Brian Bulaga. This means Dietrich-Smith will once again square off against Lions DT Ndamukong Suh. The last time these two guys faced each other head on was on Thanksgiving of last year. Suh smashed Dietrich-Smith's head into the ground and stomped on his arm after a play which became a media center piece for weeks to follow. [/box]