With playoff bye the priority, personal milestones also on the line

In some cases historic seasons could be achieved

RB Aaron Jones
RB Aaron Jones

GREEN BAY – The Packers haven't had a chance for this since 2014.

A first-round bye in the playoffs, that is. That year, the NFC North title and a bye were on the line in a Packers-Lions regular-season finale at Lambeau Field.

As everyone knows, Green Bay won, got to rest up, and ultimately came a few agonizing minutes from the Super Bowl a few weeks later.

The scenario won't be the same Sunday at Ford Field, which the Packers enter as division champs against a Lions team with just three wins. But the bye is there for the taking, and the Packers can in effect advance to the second round of the playoffs by beating a team on an eight-game losing streak.

Talk about opportunity knocking.

"The bye is huge, and home-field advantage is huge," said center Corey Linsley, who was a rookie on that 2014 team. "Everybody knows that. We knew it back then, we know it right now. We've got to get it done."

As an aside, there are also a number of personal and/or team milestones that can be reached as the regular season wraps up. Here's a rundown:

  • RB Aaron Jones enters this game with 986 rushing yards and 19 total touchdowns. He's just 16 yards away from his first 1,000-yard rushing season and Green Bay's first since Eddie Lacy in 2014. He's also one touchdown shy of Ahman Green's single-season team record of 20 touchdowns set in 2003. Jones' total of 19 currently leads the league, one ahead of Carolina's Christian McCaffrey, and the last Packers player to lead the league in touchdowns for a full season was Jim Taylor in 1962, with 19.
  • The pass-rushing trio of LBs Za'Darius and Preston Smith and DL Kenny Clark has combined for 31½ sacks and needs one more for a franchise mark. Since sacks became an official statistic in 1982, the highest total by a Packers trio is 32, set in 1998 by Reggie White (who won NFL Defensive Player of the Year with 16), Vonnie Holliday and Keith McKenzie (who had eight apiece). The Smiths are the first pair in team history with 12-plus each (Za'Darius 13½, Preston 12), and they already have the top total by a duo with 25½, beating the 24 by White (13) and Bryce Paup (11) in 1993 and the same total by White and Holliday or McKenzie in '98.
  • LB Blake Martinez has 191 total tackles this year, putting him on the verge of a historic season. The Packers have been keeping official tackle statistics since 1975 (the current process has defensive coaches review game film to tabulate solo and assisted tackles), and Green Bay's single-season record is 194, set by Nick Barnett in 2005. So Martinez is four tackles away from Barnett's mark and nine away from the first 200-tackle season in team annals.
  • K Mason Crosby has made 95% of his field goals in 2019 (19-of-20), putting him in position for his most accurate season ever, topping his 89.2% (33-of-37) from 2013. Ironically, he's trying to close out his best season at Ford Field, site of the worst game of his career a year ago, when he missed four field goals and an extra point. Since that nightmare day last October, Crosby has missed just three field goals (the lone miss this season was vs. Denver in Week 3) and he had not missed a PAT until last week at Minnesota. Combining field goals and PATs, Crosby has made 103 of his last 107 kicks – fewer misses than he had that one bad day.
  • WR Davante Adams has 904 receiving yards and needs 96 for his second straight 1,000-yard season. It would be a noteworthy accomplishment given Adams missed four games in October this season. His career is also full of close calls, as he had 997 receiving yards in 2016 and 885 in 2017 when he sat out the final two games.
  • WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling has 24 receptions, and if he gets one more, the Packers will have seven pass-catchers with at least 25 for the first time since 2013, when none of the current perimeter players on the list (Adams, Jones, Jamaal Williams, Jimmy Graham, Allen Lazard, Geronimo Allison and MVS) were on the Green Bay roster.
  • CB Kevin King's team-leading five interceptions put him one more pick away from becoming the first Packers player with six in a season since Casey Hayward in 2012. The last Green Bay player with seven in one year was Charles Woodson in 2011.

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