USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin’s Brett Christopherson caught up with Green Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb, who looked ahead to Sunday’s Week 17 matchup against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. This Q&A is presented by Tundraland:
It’s Packers-Lions. It’s Week 17. It’s for the NFC North title. And it’s on Sunday night. How fun are games like this to prepare for and play in?
Cobb: They’re really, really fun. I think these are the types of games that you really love to be a part of. I think us as competitors, we love competing at the highest stage. That’s why you look at the championship game and the Super Bowl game being the highlight and the playoffs being that driving force. Having your backs against the wall and being able to compete and know that it’s either win or go home, I think it’s a really, really fun atmosphere to be in and play in and be a part of.
The Lions played Monday night and have a short week to prepare. You played Saturday at noon and have an extra day to get ready. Does that give you any added advantage, or is that overstated since you’re division rivals and know each other so well?
Cobb: Yeah, I think there’s an obvious advantage. We obviously get to focus a little bit earlier on the Lions than they do on us. Our coaches have more time to game plan. We have more time to allow our bodies to heal. Those are definitely advantages. But again, this is the end of the tunnel right here. This is a game for what it’s worth — to be NFC North champions and to give ourselves a chance at a playoff run. This is what you play for. Detroit will come ready to play. They’re going to fight to the end, just like they did (Monday) night (against Dallas). So regardless of whatever kind of advantage we have, that means nothing when it comes to Sunday.
You’ve been in playoff mode throughout your five-game winning streak. How much of a benefit is having had that mindset over the past five weeks as you get ready for Sunday night’s winner-takes-all matchup? Do you feel like you’re mettle has been tested?
Cobb: Yeah, I think we have. We’ve definitely been challenged mentally to be able to get to this point. And this is all we wanted was to get to this point and give ourselves a chance. And now that we’re here, we have to capitalize on that chance and play up to that momentum that we’ve had over the last few weeks. Just give ourselves the best chance to be able to go out and execute and find a way to win a game.
What are the challenges you see in moving the ball against a Lions defense that’s ranked 16th against the pass, 17th against the rush and 15th overall? They’ve been dealing with some injuries in their secondary.
Cobb: Yeah, they are a little banged up in the back end, but I don’t think that changes too much. I think that with where we are in our season and the way the offense has continued to progress and having different guys get healthy, I think we create a matchup problem for Detroit. Obviously, (cornerback Darius) Slay was out this past week. We’ll see if he’s able to get back for our game. I would expect that he will play, but we’ll see what happens. But they’ve had a few injuries back there, and they’ve moved some guys around. You’ve seen (cornerback Nevin) Lawson follow the top receiver, but I think there’s definitely going to be some matchup issues if they come and try to play man like they did early in the season. Having (tight end Jared) Cook back and playing at a high level right now, I think that obviously gives us an advantage across the board. So it’ll be interesting to see how they match up with us and how they try to play us. But at the end of the day, it’s all about us. It’s about us going out there and continuing to execute our offense and finding ways to get open, finding ways to make plays, keeping drives alive and putting points on the board.
Why should Aaron Rodgers be the favorite to win the NFL’s MVP award this season?
Cobb: I think just his leadership. And you look at his numbers alone. They talk about (Detroit quarterback) Matthew Stafford being in the race, and Aaron’s numbers are way better than his. So I think that would be a no-brainer. But if you just look at his leadership and the way he was able to pull our team together from 4-6, bring us to this point in the season and give us this opportunity. I think that he definitely should be in the talk for winning most valuable player.
Brett Christopherson: 920-993-7117, or email@example.com; on Twitter @PCBrettC