Detroit Lions (0-1 SU, 1-0 ATS) v. Green Bay Packers (0-1 SU, 0-1 ATS)
NFL Week 2
Date: Monday, September 20 at 8:15 pm ET
Where: Lambeau Field - Green Bay, WI
Point Spread: DET +11/GB -11 (BAS)
Over/Under Total: 48
As NFC North rivalries go, the Green Bay-Detroit games aren’t as hate-filled as when the Packers take on the Vikings or Bears, but this series has produced some really notable results in the last few seasons. Aaron Rodgers completed a Hail Mary with no time left to win in 2015, and Detroit had Green Bay down at halftime in 2017’s Week 17 with the division on the line before the Packers won late. Detroit won 31-0 in 2018 after Rodgers had to leave early with a concussion, and that game saw K Matt Prater throw a touchdown pass. I guess the point is interesting things tend to happen when these two teams square off.
It was a rough start for the division with every NFC North team losing in Week 1, but Detroit perhaps looked the best by default after erasing most of a 31-10 deficit before losing 41-33 to San Francisco. The Lions were thought of as one of the worst offensive teams in the league heading into the season, and their win total was set at five, so as expectations go, they somewhat exceeded them. Green Bay certainly didn’t with a 38-3 drubbing at the hands of New Orleans. The Packers didn’t look good in any phase of the game, and much of the criticism fell on coach Matt LaFleur’s decision to run just seven padded practices during camp and hold out nearly all starters from preseason games. Injury news for both teams is limited but tackle David Bakhtiari remains sidelined for Green Bay, and S Darnell remains questionable after leaving last week with a shoulder injury.
Detroit should be viewed through somewhat of a different lens with a new coaching staff and QB, but the team has been good against the spread early, going 8-3 ATS in their last eleven September contests and are 6-2 ATS in the previous eight Monday Night games. They haven’t been nearly as good on the road with a 4-9 ATS mark in the last thirteen as the visitor with just three ATS wins in their previous ten as road dogs. Green Bay has been good after a loss, going 8-1 against the spread in the last nine following a straight-up L and 16-5 immediately following an ATS loss. The Lions have been the better bet of late, going 7-1 against the spread in the last eight meetings in this series. The under has hit in four of the last five between these teams.
Burn The Tape
Green Bay laid an absolute egg in the opener, but the good news is that this team has been here before. It was 2014 when the Packers opened up with a 36-16 loss to Seattle, and the sky was falling in Ashwaubenon just as it is now. Aaron Rodgers stood in front of a mic and told everyone to R-E-L-A-X, then promptly went out and threw for 346 yards and three touchdowns the next week. The Packers went 12-4 that season, and there is a relatively good chance that the same type of turnaround will happen, starting this Monday Night. Rodgers also had a 0TD/2INT performance last season against Tampa Bay and followed that with four TD passes and no picks the next week. The bottom line is that Green Bay doesn’t panic when they lose big. Aaron Jones struggled with just nine rushing yards last week but look for him to bounce back against a Detroit defense that surrendered 131 rushing yards to San Fran’s backup running backs. Former Lions Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry will need to light a fire after Green Bay failed to record a sack or turnover against New Orleans and allowed the Saints to convert 7-of-12 third-down chances.
Not the Same Old Lions?
There is no question that Dan Campbell has the fanbase in Detroit looking forward to this season in a much more positive manner than in years past. The Lions still lost and looked poor at times, but the team showed actual heart and character instead of just talking the talk like they had been under Matt Patricia. Detroit blew so many leads under Patricia that a come from behind close call actually inspires some confidence that things are on the way up. The best days for Detroit are probably in 2023 and beyond, but a motivated squad should prove a much tougher test than what we are all used to seeing. Jared Goff threw three touchdowns in his Lions debut and completed 66% of his passes, but 25-of-38 completions were to running backs and tight ends. There is nothing wrong with the checkdown, but that might not get it done if GB can get a big lead. TE T.J. Hockenson led the team with 97 yards receiving last week. Look for him to have a good week against a Packer secondary that gave up two touchdowns to NO TE Juwan Johnson. DB Tracy Walker led the team with seven tackles and one sack against SF, and he should have another busy day as Rodgers likes to push the ball downfield perhaps more than any other QB.
Take the Lions in a Close Contest
Over-reacting to one week is just about as popular of an activity as betting on the games themselves, so it doesn’t surprise me to see roughly 55% of the action on Detroit’s side through mid-week. It doesn’t seem plausible that Green Bay would underperform in consecutive weeks, so Detroit is likely to go 0-2, but it is an open issue when you throw in the points. Eleven is a lot for a division game - which have a tendency to play close - and double-digit favorites have only covered about 53% of the time since the start of the 2012 season. If Detroit can stay within shouting distance, Goff’s dink-and-dunk style can keep the chains moving and the Lions in this game. Green Bay has the playmaker advantage at every position outside TE1 as Hockenson is a more consistent threat than Robert Tonyan, but New Orleans just proved that a relatively inexperienced skill group can win against Green Bay’s big guns. The Packers will make it look easy at times on Monday Night, but the Lions will get enough to make that 11 points too hard to swallow. Look for a 30-21 Green Bay win.
Ted Walker’s Pick to Cover the Spread: