On Sunday, two teams headed in completely different directions will face off. Green Bay has Super Bowl on the mind. Tennessee, however, has been thinking April for a while now.
Here’s everything you need to know about this Week 16 matchup.
Where: Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.
When: Sunday, Dec. 23 at 1 p.m. ET
Listen: Sirius XM Radio: 91 or online at Audio Pass
Betting Line: Green Bay by 11.5, according to Odds Shark
What’s At Stake?
It’s clear the Packers are one of the favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. But right now, they’re sitting with the third seed, thinking, “If it weren’t for those replacement refs, we’d have a first-round bye.”
To get that second seed now, though, they just have to keep winning and hope the San Francisco 49ers choke.
Nothing is at stake for the Titans except the coaching staff’s jobs. Bud Adams already fired offensive coordinator Chris Palmer and he’s not afraid to give someone else the boot. Any Jake Locker progression would also be nice.
Titans Injury Report (via ESPN, as of Dec. 18)
Damian Williams (hamstring), WR, Questionable
Colin McCarthy (head), LB, Inactive
Kevin Matthews (ankle), C, Questionable
Kendall Wright (ribs), WR, Questionable
Packers Injury Report (via ESPN, as of Dec. 18)
Charles Woodson, S, Questionable
Jordy Nelson, WR, Questionable
Donald Driver, WR, Questionable
C.J. Wilson, DE, Questionable
Fantasy Start 'Em, Sit 'Em and Sleeper
Start: Chris Johnson
Green Bay’s run defense isn’t anything special. It’s ranked 14th in the NFL, which is solid, but not solid enough to stop Johnson.
CJ broke off a 94-yard touchdown run against the New York Jets on Monday Night Football and finished with 122 on the outing. He actually had only rushed for 95 yards in the Titans’ previous two contests, but his home run ability makes him worth the risk.
Sit: Kenny Britt
Britt has been a huge disappointment this season.
After catching eight balls for 143 yards against the Indianapolis Colts, he caught just one for seven yards on Monday. Unlike Johnson, you shouldn’t roll the dice on Britt.
Sleeper: Alex Green
Green isn’t a talented back. He’s averaging a pitiful 3.4 yards per carry this season. But the Titans’ front seven is capable of making a subpar runner look outstanding.
Their ranked 25th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed so Green could be in for his most productive game of the season.
What They’re Saying
According to the Packers’ official Twitter account, history will be on their side this Sunday:
And according to Jim Wyatt of the Tennessean, the Titans aren’t the most popular team in the league:
The #Titans-Jets game was the lowest rated Monday Night Football game of the season— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) December 18, 2012
Titans Player to Watch: Jake Locker
Locker hasn’t been the same since returning from his shoulder injury.
He did break his three-game interception streak against the Jets, though, after throwing seven over that time span. His continued progression is the most important thing the Titans can accomplish the rest of the season.
Packers Player to Watch: James Jones
Jones is a touchdown machine.
He leads the Packers this year with 12, and last week against the Bears he scored every one of Green Bay’s three touchdowns. Tennessee’s defense is ranked 30th in points allowed, so Jones could easily add to his totals.
Key Matchup: Michael Roos vs. Clay Matthews
Roos is the only original Titans’ starting offensive lineman who’s been able to avoid injury. He’s a former Pro Bowler and their best shot to slow down the all-world pass-rusher that is Clay Matthews. The outside linebacker has 11 sacks on the season.
On the Hot Seat: Mike Munchak
Adams threatened the entire coaching staff earlier this season, so if Munchak doesn’t miraculous win out, it wouldn’t be shocking if he was fired as season’s end. After finishing with a 9-7 record in 2011, the Titans have taken a huge step back in his second year as head coach.
Green Bay is favored by double-digit points because it’s a superior team to the Titans on both sides of the football. Aaron Rodgers vs. a second-year, developmental QB—this one is a no-brainer.
If the Packers find a way to lose this game, it’d rock the NFL.
Green Bay by 14
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.