Pregame warmup: Packers need a win in worst way

Posted by Mike Spofford on December 8, 2013 – 11:01 am

Kickoff is roughly an hour away, so here’s the rundown on what matters today at Lambeau Field.

Essentially do-or-die

The Packers have been talking about needing a win for more than a month now, and while they can’t be mathematically eliminated from the NFC North race today, a loss could all but end any realistic hopes of playing in the postseason for a fifth straight year.

The Packers, at 5-6-1, trail division-leading Detroit (7-5) by 1 1/2 games, so in order to win the division, the Packers need to win out while the Lions lose twice. That puts intense importance on today, with the Packers hosting the Falcons and the Lions traveling to face the NFC East-leading Eagles.

A Packers win and a Lions loss would put Green Bay just 1/2 game back with three to play, and right in the hunt. That’s the best-case scenario. A loss by the Packers, regardless of what the Lions do, will make it extremely difficult, and perhaps nearly impossible, to win the division.

For a quick look at all the games in the NFC that will affect the playoff race, check out Path to the Playoffs.

Flynn at the helm; O-line intact

For the second straight game, the Packers will start Matt Flynn at QB in place of Aaron Rodgers. This marks Flynn’s first start at Lambeau Field since the 2011 regular-season finale when he set single-game team passing records for yards and TDs. Two weeks ago, Flynn relieved Scott Tolzien and brought the Packers back from a 16-p0int fourth-quarter deficit to force overtime, and the game with the Vikings ended in a tie.

Flynn’s performance last Thursday in Detroit was forgettable, but that was the case for the entire team. One problem among many was the shuffling up front on the offensive line when C Evan Dietrich-Smith went down with a knee injury.

Dietrich-Smith then rolled his ankle in practice on Wednesday, missing both Thursday’s and Friday’s workouts, but he is active and expected to start, so Green Bay’s starting offensive line is intact for now. T Marshall Newhouse is the lone inactive among the offensive linemen due to flu-like symptoms.

Cold day in Green Bay

It’s currently 8 degrees in Green Bay, with the wind chill below zero. Temperatures are expected to rise to as high as 20, with some snow flurries. There could be as much as an inch or two of snow that falls by the end of the game.

With light flurries during pregame, Lambeau Field is currently sporting a dusting of snow. Winds are not significant and that is not expected to change.

One storyline today will be how the Atlanta Falcons react to the cold weather. They have played nine of 12 games this season indoors. None of their three outdoor games has been played north of Charlotte, N.C. Falcons QB Matt Ryan is from Boston College and has played in plenty of cold-weather games in the past, but Atlanta is definitely not used to this.

Here’s a quick video on the weather.

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