That Old Rivalry

It’s like Andy Roddick always said when asked about how he felt about his rivalry with Roger Federer, “I’ve got to win one of these first for you to talk about a rivalry.” And he’s right. Just because teams might be in the same division and play each other twice a year doesn’t make it a rivalry. It’s all about taking care of business, and lately the Detroit Lions haven’t been taking care of business against the Green Bay Packers.

Well, lately as in the past few years, but very lately (as in the first matchup this season — in Green Bay) the Lions have begun to roar. Was that merely a product of taking advantage with a lackluster Green Bay offense? Or was that a statement game that might signal a possible Detroit victory this week as well, on their own turf? They haven’t swept the season series with the Packers since… well, since 1991, back when I was a 9th grader. Yeah, it’s been that long.

And yet they have a chance, a chance to turn this thing back into a rivalry, and they can do it right now, on Thursday night, under the lights in Detroit. The Packers weren’t great in losing to the Bears (the Bears!) at home on Thanksgiving, and the Lions blew the wings off the Eagles earlier that same day, so maybe Matt Stafford and company can take care of business. It’s an important contest, fantasy-wise, too, because you might be in the battle for a fantasy playoff spot in your league.

Here’s how to treat players from this contest in fantasy:

THE MUST STARTS

Matthew Stafford
Aaron Rodgers
Randall Cobb
Calvin Johnson
Theo Riddick
Eddie Lacy

I thought long and hard about Lacy in this one, but in order to Green Bay to have a chance to win they’ll have to stick with the run, which will benefit both Lacy and Starks. Since Lacy is back to being the presumptive number one back for Green Bay you have to play him this week. As for Theo Riddick — what you saw from him against Philadelphia was just a start. He’s going to be heavily involved in the passing game in this one as well. Look for a huge game from Riddick, and possible household name status.

If you’re looking for a sleeper option, someone you can pick up from the waiver wire as a flyer, give a glance to someone like Eric Ebron, who has a chance to be the surprise hero, or Starks himself, if he’s available (a lot of people dropped him after the past two games Lacy has had). Everyone else is pretty much a hope and a prayer for this one.

*Don’t forget Golden Tate, who can be the forgotten man at times. He doesn’t have a great history against the Packers, but if anyone can step up, it’s him. Treat him as a WR2 for this matchup.

So who’s going to win this rivalry game? I think it’s going to be the Lions. They’re playing better, more consistent football right now, and if they can beat the pack at Lambeau, they can beat them anywhere. Lions win a tight one.

Pick: LIONS.

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