January 02, 2017

DETROIT (AP) The Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions are both headed to the postseason.

One of those teams looks like a threat to make a serious run.

Aaron Rodgers threw four touchdown passes, and the Packers calmly dispatched Detroit 31-24 on Sunday night to win the NFC North title. Green Bay finished the regular season with six consecutive victories, and although the Lions made the playoffs as a wild card, they frittered away the division title with three straight losses down the stretch.

The Packers and Lions were both safely in the playoffs by the time their game kicked off, because Washington lost to the New York Giants earlier in the day. But there was still a division title at stake in the Green Bay-Detroit game, and the winner would enter the postseason on a much happier note.

''Winning games like today gives you great confidence. It gives you momentum,'' Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. ''We clearly understand where we were six weeks ago, and where we are today.''

Green Bay (10-6) starts its postseason at home against the Giants next weekend, and Detroit (9-7) plays at Seattle.

The Lions made the playoffs for the second time in coach Jim Caldwell's three seasons at the helm, but they remain without a division title since 1993. They are 0-5 this season against teams that made the playoffs - including losses to the Giants, Cowboys and Packers to close the regular season.

''This isn't what we wanted, and every loss is a major disappointment, but we have to have short memories,'' Detroit receiver Golden Tate said. ''All we can think about right now is Seattle, and playing the way we are capable of playing.''

The Lions led 14-7 late in the first half, then Rodgers and the Packers scored 10 points before Detroit ever had the ball again. Green Bay managed a field goal at the end of the second quarter and a touchdown drive to start the third.

Detroit had a raucous home crowd on its side in what was probably the biggest game the Lions have played at Ford Field since it opened in 2002. It turned out to be their last home game of the season - they'll be the bottom seed in the NFC playoffs.


For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-NFL .

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