Detroit Lions (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS) vs. Green Bay Packers (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS)
NFL Week 3
Date/Time: Sunday, September 25 at 1pm ET
Where: Lambeau Field
by Evergreen, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: DET +8/GB -8
Over/Under Total: 48
Every NFL team wants to get off to a good start. The numbers say a 2-1 team has a 55% chance to make the playoffs while a 1-2 start predicts less than a 25% chance of seeing the postseason. Two 1-1 teams square off in an NFC North tilt this week as the Detroit Lions head to Lambeau Field to take on the Green Bay Packers. Both teams were on the wrong end of a Week 2 decision and have plenty of questions to answer. Early season divisional wins loom large when we get to tiebreaker time later in the season but then again, every week is big in the NFL.
Lambeau Field has always been the cure for what ails the Pack and Green Bay is currently an 8-point favorite. The Packers dropped the ATS decision last week but have bounced back well, going 4-1 against the spread in their last five following an ATS loss. The favorite has gone 7-1 against the spread in the last eight meetings between the these teams with Detroit just 1-4 ATS in the last five trips to Green Bay.
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It has been good news/bad news through two weeks for Detroit. An opening 39-35 win had the Lions flying high but a quick crash followed with a 16-15 loss to Tennessee. The Lions gave up thirteen fourth quarter points to the Titans, including the go-ahead touchdown with just over a minute left to go. The defense has been pretty soft and is suffering from multiple injuries. DeAndre Levy may miss the season entirely and Ziggy Ansah is questionable for Sunday with an ankle issue. Detroit is 22nd or worse in points and yards allowed and now get a wounded Packers offense that is looking to take out some frustration.
The overall feel in Green Bay is pretty down at the moment. The offensive struggles that plagued most of the 2015 season have seeped over through two weeks this year and it doesnít appear that the mere presence of Jordy Nelson is enough to turn things around. The Packers are 29th in total yards, 31st in passing and are averaging 20.5 points per game. Both of their games have been on the road and the first team offense did not work together in the preseason but those arenít good enough excuses explaining away this level of inconsistency. Aaron Rodgers, once the absolute trendsetter in QB rating, has not posted a QB rating of 100 or better in any of the last fourteen games and his completion rate continues to fall. Eddie Lacy doesnít look to be much better than the 2015 version and the sky is falling a bit as the Packers head for the safety of home field.
Now that you know the Detroit defense stinks and the Green Bay offense is equally bad, letís talk about what it going right. Jim Bob Cooter has turned around the Lions offense and Matthew Stafford appears to be more efficient without Calvin Johnson that he was with him. Stafford has thrown for 600 yards and four touchdowns through two weeks and the offense overall is top-10 in both passing and rushing yards. Ameer Abdullah was just placed on the IR with a foot injury but Theo Riddick and Dwayne Washington have both looked good with Riddick representing one of the toughest defensive matchups out of the backfield. Green Bay is allowing just 39 rushing yards per game so the basic run might not be the way to go for Detroit but expect Riddick to be a big factor on the check-downs. The collection of Marvin Jones, Golden Tate and Anquan Boldin is the best overall receiving corps that Stafford has had and Eric Ebron is a difficult cover in the redzone. In a passing league, Detroit stands out as one of the best air units.
It is usually this time of year that the fire Dom Capers chants begin but the Packers defense has performed well. They have thoroughly stuffed the run and held the opposition to 20 points per game on average. Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers have notched a combined 3.5 sacks and the secondary has covered up for a variety of injuries outside of letting Stefon Diggs loose last week. Sam Shields may be back from a concussion for Sunday and that would be a big return with Micah Hyde and Morgan Burnett also dinged up. It sounds odd but the offense needs to help the Packers defense out as Matthews and Co. are very effective at rushing the passer and turning the ball over while playing with a lead.
The series has been very even in recent years with a 1-1 season split since 2013. The Pack needed a Rodgers-to-Rodgers hail mary to win the last meeting and the overall theme from 2015 was that neither team played all that well in either game. The troubling thing about the Green Bay offense for me is the lack of the big play. Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson are both averaging less than ten yards per reception and Lacyís bulk all but eliminates the chances of a homerun rush. With so much underneath, the defenses have been able to hold the Packers from consistent drives and points. If the Packers canít take the top off at Lambeau, they will be doing the iffy Lions D a big favor. Stafford should have no issues passing the ball given the amount of quality targets the Lions have and the middle of the field has been available against Green Bay through two weeks. I think the Packers get feeling better at home but I donít see them as eight points better than anyone to be honest. A hot Green Bay crowd goes home happy but a 29-23 decision give Detroit the ATS win.
Evergreenís Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Detroit
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