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  • Updated

The numbers jump out of the two box scores, even if it’s an oversimplification to draw a straight line between the productivity of the Packers’ running game (or lack thereof) and the team’s playoff success (or lack thereof). In their 32-18 NFC Divisional Playoff win over the Los Angeles Rams last year, the Packers' running backs (Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, A.J. Dillon) ran the ball a combined 32 times for 191 yards. Jones (above) had a 60-yard run, but all three backs averaged at least 4.5 yards per carry.

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Speaking of oversimplifications, try this one on for size: In the Packers’ two playoff victories under head coach Matt LaFleur — over Seattle in 2019 and over the Rams last year — they never trailed, building leads of 21-3 and 28-10 over the Seahawks and 16-3 and 25-10 over the Rams. In their two playoff losses under LaFleur — to the 49ers in the 2019 NFC title game and to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in last year’s, they never led, falling behind 27-0 in San Francisco and 28-10 to Tom Brady and the Bucs.

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This game matches two teams wrapping up two distinctly different seasons: The Packers, at 13-3, are headed to the playoffs as the NFC’s No. 1 seed; the Lions, at 2-13-1, will own either the No. 1 or No. 2 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, depending on what the 2-14 Jacksonville Jaguars do in their finale. And for as much as Packers coach Matt LaFleur pushed back on the idea that the game is meaningless for the Packers as they get set to enjoy a first-round playoff bye, the fact of the matter is that even if he plays some of his most important players (quarterback Aaron Rodgers, wide receiver Davante Adams, et al.), they definitely won’t be playing the entire game.