MARQUETTE, MI – 12-4-2014 – We live in an interesting section of the United States, particularly the sporting world. On my show on SunnyFM, I have an hourly segment called: “The U.P. Relevant Sports Update”. It spawned because of where we live. The people around our area root for different teams in different sports. The continuity of sports fans up here is almost non existent. It really is. You have the people who are all about the state of Michigan, then you have people (such as myself) who have family ties to other teams that you’ve just grown up watching. For example, my grandfather wasn’t much of an NBA fan when my dad was a kid, so he loved to watch Wilt Chamberlain play basketball, and when he went to the Los Angeles Lakers, my dad followed his fanhood there. Upon Wilt’s retirement, my dad stuck his flag in the Lake Show nation. Growing up the TV wasn’t as popular as the radio, so my dad was able to pick up Packers, Red Wings, and Tigers radio, so that’s who I root for today. It’s goofy, but it’s the U.P. The biggest cities are all roughly seven hours away in Detroit, Chicago, and Minneapolis. I find it fascinating.
That’s why I’m excited about watching the final stretch of the NFL regular season coming up here at the end of the month. For the first time in a while, both the Packers and Lions look like viable contenders in the NFC. The Packers are gelling on defense and Aaron Rodgers is Aaron Rodgers. For the Lions, they’re sporting the #2 overall defense and the #1 rush defense in the NFL. Their offense has struggled, but they did manage to put up 30+ points on the Chicago Bears for the first time since week one. Calvin Johnson appears to have recovered nicely from his injuries, and the offense should get another boost when Reggie Bush returns.
Both teams have very winnable games coming up before the next three weeks, as the Lions will go on to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this Sunday (2-10), followed by hosting the Vikings (5-7), before traveling to Chicago (6-6) before the final game of the season in Green Bay, where the Lions haven’t won since 1991. The Packers, meanwhile, will face off against the 5-7 Atlanta Falcons, before heading out to Buffalo (7-5) and then down to Tampa Bay (2-10) before taking on the Lions. The Packers schedule seems more difficult, as they face two playoff teams (Yes, Atlanta is a playoff team as of right now), but don’t discount the Vikings & Bears for Detroit. Divisional games are a completely different monster.
Either way, at 9-3 and 8-4, these two teams look to be poised for a huge match-up come December 28th at Lambeau Field. So just sit back fans, grab some chips & dip, sip on a beer, and enjoy. Because this is a rarity. The last time both the Lions and Packers made the playoffs before 2011, was 1997. So it isn’t something to take for granted. All I can say is: Go Pack Go!
-Carl Leander Johnson