Both Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz and Packers coach Mike McCarthy have each responded to questions about resting their starters this Sunday by replying "We're going to play to win."
It would appear both teams starters will begin the game. Key players with lingering health issues will get rest, and personnel changes in the game will be made with health in view.
"I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves, because we, obviously, made it into the playoffs, but the playoffs don’t start this week,” Schwartz said via the Detroit Free Press. “But you have seen teams that have gone in and made that run. The New York Giants (in the 2007 season). Green Bay last year.
“I think a lot of that starts this week. You look at those teams; it wasn’t just what they did when they got into the playoffs, it’s where they were at the end of the season. … You certainly want to go in with momentum. You want to go in with wins, you want to go in healthy. To be in is, obviously, the most important thing. After that, then everybody has a chance.”
The Lions unlike the Packers do have something on the line beyond momentum. With a win over Green Bay and an Atlanta loss in the next two weeks (either Monday night or next Sunday) the Lions would secure the NFC's fifth seed rather than the sixth seed. Meaning they would avoid having to play either the Saints or 49ers or Falcons in the Wild Card round. With a win they would play at either New York or Dallas. Also as the fifth seed they wouldn't meet the Packers until at least the NFC Championship game.
Mike McCarthy had this to say about whether or not his starters will play:
We're going to play to win the game next week,” McCarthy said, via ESPN. “I'm not real excited about a division opponent coming in here and thinking we're not going to do everything we can to get to 15-1. But health is an issue for us, and I think that's stating the obvious."
Meanwhile, McCarthy is hopeful that Chad Clifton can play Sunday against the Lions. Clifton hasn't played in two months because of a lower-back/hamstring injury.
Right tackle Bryan Bulaga could also return to the field on Sunday after missing the Bears game with a knee injury.
James Starks may miss Sunday's game because of a sprained right ankle.
-Frank Gore of the San Francisco 49ers said Monday via the San Jose Mercury News,“We ain’t worried about no Packers right now.”
Gore says he didn't watch Sunday night's Bears-Packers game, instead he'll worry about the Packers if and when they Niners play Green Bay which would be in the NFC Championship game.
Gore and the Niners can capture the No. 2 seed in the NFC with a New Orleans loss to Atlanta Monday night or a win in St. Louis next Sunday.
-Sunday Night's Packers-Bears game was well watched on TV, as expected. According to NBC the game drew 21.6 million viewers.
-Here are the updated NFC Playoff Scenarios
CLINCHED: Green Bay Packers -- North Division and home-field advantage.
San Francisco 49ers -- West Division.
New Orleans Saints -- wild-card spot.
Detroit Lions -- wild-card spot.
Atlanta Falcons -- wild-card spot.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
Green Bay clinched home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
San Francisco clinches a first-round bye:
1) SF win
2) SF tie + one NO loss or tie
3) one NO loss
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
New Orleans clinches NFC South Division:
1) one NO win or tie
2) one ATL loss or tie
New Orleans clinches a first-round bye:
1) two NO wins + SF loss or tie
2) one NO win + one NO tie + SF loss
NEW YORK GIANTS
NY Giants clinch NFC East Division:
1) NYG win or tie
Dallas clinches NFC East Division:
1) DAL win
Atlanta clinches NFC South Division:
1) two ATL wins + two NO losses
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