The Green Bay Packers won a snowy game in Lambeau on Sunday night against the Detroit Lions. After being down by 14, the Packers were able to turn it around, scoring 17 straight and eventually winning 27-20.
While to many it doesn't feel that this game was as important as next week will be against the Chicago Bears, there were many signs in this game that showed the Packers are ready to make another run at the Super Bowl.
With this win, the Packers are now 9-4. After starting the season at a rough 2-3, they have won seven of their last eight games. While critics and fans alike began to panic, the Packers stayed calm, knowing that they could play better.
With the Bears also losing on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings, the Packers now have a one-game lead over Chicago. What this means is that if the Packers are able to beat the Bears next week, then they will clinch the NFC North. By clinching the NFC North and beating the Bears again, the Bears may have trouble even making the playoffs at 8-6.
Don Barclay replaced T.J. Lang for the second straight game on Sunday. He has perhaps been the biggest surprise for the Packers during that time. When Lang went down against the Vikings, many were worried that the line would completely collapse. However, Barclay has stepped up big the past two games. He was seen making some crucial blocks in the running game on Sunday night, and even held his own against players like Ndamukong Suh.
The return of Sam Shields was another good sign for the Packers. Shields has been out with an ankle sprain since the game against the Houston Texans in October. While Casey Hayward has done a good job replacing him, his return will help strengthen the defense. Shields played very well on Sunday, grabbing an interception in his first game back. He kept receivers mostly in check, allowing only two catches thrown at him.
Along with Shields returning, this stretch of wins has been without key players who are finally beginning to return. Greg Jennings returned last week and will look to be a weapon once again on the offense. Charles Woodson broke his collarbone against the St. Louis Rams in October, and should return soon. Matthews tweaked his earlier this year, but is also expected to return soon. While there is no certain news on Matthews or Woodson's returns, they will be back in time for the playoffs.
Perhaps the biggest reason that this win was the biggest of the year was the emergence of the running game.
The Packers were able to run effectively against the Lions, running for 140 yards total. They got contributions from Alex Green, DeJuan Harris, Ryan Grant and even a big run from Aaron Rodgers. The running game has shown promise the last few weeks, rushing for over 100 yards the past three games. The emergence of the running game will keep the pressure off of Rodgers, giving him more time in the pocket. The running game proved that Rodgers doesn't need to throw for a multiple touchdowns for the Packers to win.
The win has put the Packers out in front in their division, and has also given them the opportunity to try and grab a first-round bye in the playoffs. If the Packers can keep winning like they did against Detroit, the Packers could make another run at the Super Bowl.