GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers’ break before their regular-season finale just got 7½ hours longer.
The NFL made official what many people predicted: The Packers’ Jan. 1 winner-take-all meeting with the Detroit Lions for the NFC North title has been flexed from a noon start on Fox to the Sunday night slot on NBC.
Regardless of what the Detroit Lions (9-5) do Monday night at Dallas, the NFC North comes down to their Ford Field meeting with the Packers (9-6), who have won five straight, including a 38-25 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Saturday.
The Packers, who have a full seven days to prepare for the Lions, will be playing their sixth night game of the season. The Lions catch a bit of a break with the decision to flex the game since it gives them a little extra time to recover from their Monday night game.
The Packers are 3-2 in night games this season and 1-2 on Sunday night. Their Sunday night record consists of losses at Minnesota and Washington and a victory at home over the New York Giants. They beat the Chicago Bears at home on Thursday night and the Philadelphia Eagles on the road on Monday night.
The league didn’t have many other attractive alternatives to the Packers-Lions game for a Week 17 flex. The Packers’ wide following along with the large Detroit television market made it an ideal game for NBC, which will broadcast the game starting at 7:30 p.m.
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The winner of the game wins the NFC North and plays its first playoff game at home.
If Detroit wins, it would win the division based on a better record than the Packers. If Green Bay wins, it would win the division either because of a better record than the Lions or a tiebreaker based on sweeping both games in head-to-head action.