Green Bay will find out this weekend whether it packs it in for the winter or keeps its faint playoff hopes alive.
The Packers, 6-8, need two victories in their last two games, beginning today against Detroit, and help from some other teams to remain in the hunt for the last NFC wild-card playoff spot."We're not like some teams that already had the door closed in their faces," Packers Coach Lindy Infante said.
However, the door may swing shut on Green Bay, which will start third-string quarterback Blair Kiel. He is a six-year NFL veteran but has yet to start a regular-season non-strike game.
Starter Don Majkowski is out after shoulder surgery and backup Anthony Dilweg has a sprained foot.
Kiel has completed 31 of 49 passes for 265 yards and two touchdowns. He said he's not feeling added pressure.
"I feel I've had a good week of practice," Kiel said. "It's nice to finally get a start. I'm not even thinking about the playoffs. Beating Detroit has been our main focus and we'll go from there."
The Lions, 5-9, will try to avenge a 24-21 loss to the Packers in September. Green Bay rallied from a 21-10 deficit in the fourth quarter.
"Obviously, this is a big game for the Packers," Lions Coach Wayne Fontes said. "They need a win to stay alive and we want to win to keep our program headed in the right direction."
Detroit is coming off a 38-21 upset victory Sunday night over the Chicago Bears. Rodney Peete threw for a career-best 316 yards and four TDs.
"We really have played well the past four weeks and if we can keep it going the last two weeks of the season, then we'll have a tremendous springboard into next year," Fontes said.
In another game today, the Minnesota Vikings will also try to keep their wild-card playoff chances alive when they play host to the Los Angeles Raiders.
Like the Packers, the Vikings, 6-8, need two victories and help from other teams. The Raiders, 10-4, sewed up their first playoff berth since 1985 last week and can clinch the AFC West with a victory.
Also today, Washington will meet the Indianapolis Colts. The Redskins, 9-5, need a victory to remain ahead of Philadelphia for the right to be home for a wild-card playoff game. The Redskins have won three straight.
"Home-field advantage is big for us," Washington Coach Joe Gibbs said. "The crowd is close to the field at RFK Stadium. We play very good at home and not so well on the road. We've been inconsistent all season. That makes it tough because you can't get a real good feeling where you're going. We've played better and won the last three weeks. We have to keep it going."
Sunday, Miami plays at Buffalo in a game to determine the AFC East champ. Also, it's the New York Giants at Phoenix, New Orleans at San Francisco, Cleveland at Pittsburgh, Denver at Seattle, New england at the New York Jets, Cincinnati at Houston, Dallas at Philadelphia, Kansas City at San Diego, the Los Angeles Rams at Atlanta and Tampa Bay at Chicago.
Fred Washington, a rookie defensive tackle for the Bears, was killed early Friday when his car struck a tree in a suburb north of Chicago.
Washington, 23, and a woman companion died on impact in the accident. Police said Washington apparently was driving at high speed and not wearing a seatbelt. The woman was identified as Petra Stoll, 22, Palatine, Ill.