Green gets the vote for Packers

  • By: David John (Twitter: @SLifeDaveJohn)
  • Last Updated: December 29 2012, 20:43 GMT

David John previews Sky's two live matches on Sunday night in week 17 of the NFL.

Alex Green: Can score a touchdown for the Packers
Alex Green: Can score a touchdown for the Packers

Chicago at Detroit (1800GMT)

The Bears are still in the play-off picture - just - but will need to beat their NFC North rivals at Ford Field and hope that Green Bay do them a favour later by getting the better of Minnesota.

Chicago could perhaps not wish for a better rival with the post-season at stake.

The Lions have lost seven straight games, are 23 turnovers worse than last season while key players like quarterback Jay Cutler and defensive end Julius Peppers seem to have a field day every time they face this team.

Even under-fire head coach Lovie Smith relishes a match-up against Detroit as he has won eight times from their last nine meetings.

The hosts themselves have little more to play for than the personal satisfaction of throwing a spanner in the works for Chicago and a bit of animosity this week as Dominic Raiola and Henry Melton traded insults has added a some extra spice to proceedings.

Although issues like next April's draft will not be on the radar for Detroit, a win for them could see them drop as many as six places while a defeat with other results going in their favour may leave them with the third pick overall.

Something like that will not concern the players once the ball has been kicked off but the bottom line is that the Lions have been a massive disappointment this season.

Wide receiver Calvin Johnson may be on the verge of 2,000 yards in receptions but he has just five touchdowns compared to 16 last year.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford is also on the verge of another 5,000-yard campaign but he also has not delivered when it matters and Chicago's defense - which has reignited at the right time over the past five weeks - feel they can force him to crumble once again under pressure.

He and Johnson are likely to play pitch and catch in a bid to swell their personal numbers for the year but how effective it will be when it comes to putting points on the board once again is open to serious question.

It would be easy to argue that Chicago will win this based solely on the fact that they are the only side playing for something but just because a team needs to win does not necessarily mean it will occur.

I think Detroit will play hard but they simply look out of their depth on form and the Bears should cover a modest three-point start on the handicap.

Green Bay at Minnesota (2125GMT)

Sky's second game also has plenty of play-off implications to resolve.

Minnesota must win to ensure a first trip to the post-season since 2009 otherwise they will need all of the New York Giants, Chicago and Dallas to slip up if their season is to continue.

Green Bay have already booked their ticket but still have plenty to play for with a victory ensuring a first-round bye.

There is also the side issue of Minnesota's Adrian Peterson potentially breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing record and 208 yards will do the trick.

That is an enormous amount of yardage but remember Peterson did manage 210 yards against these rivals when they met at Lambeau Field on December 2.

His under/over rushing yardage for the game is set at 122.5 but those playing on the market should be aware he has been troubled by an abdominal problem which saw him sit out the last seven minutes in Houston last week.

Peterson feels he will be fine come game time and it is fair to argue that the level of impact he has will be crucial to the outcome.

Equally, the Packers will be far from impressed if Peterson does make history against them - and if they can keep a lid on him, it should go a good way to securing the win with doubts till surrounding whether Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder can shoulder the load in such a big game.

The Packers are three-point favourites and there has been some support for them this week but quarterback Aaron Rodgers could possibly be without his most productive target in recent weeks Randall Cobb after he injured an ankle on a return last week against Tennessee.

He did practice Friday and a decision will be left as late as possible but Rodgers could get receiver Jordy Nelson back in the mix after a hamstring problem - swings and roundabouts.

In terms of a bet, I am going to take a chance on Green Bay running back Alex Green scoring a touchdown anytime at 13/5 with Ladbrokes.

He returns to action after a concussion and although he has yet to find the end zone this season, he has played an increasing part in the offense.

He produced a respectable effort against the Vikings when the pair met earlier in the month and his time could have arrived for him to contribute some points.

  • Preview posted at 1200 GMT on 29/12/2012.