Detroit Lions (11-4 SU, 7-8 ATS) vs. Green Bay Packers (11-4 SU, 8-6-1 ATS)
NFL Football Week 17
Date and Time: December 28 - 1pm ET
Where: Lambeau Field
by Evergreen, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: DET +7.5/GB -7.5
Over/Under Total: 48
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There are plenty of years when Week 17 in the NFL is of little importance but this season has plenty of high-stakes games and one of them is the matchup between the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers. The NFC North Division crown in one the line and while both teams are in the playoffs, that home game is mighty important to both squads. The Packers are looking to go 8-0 at home this year and will need to solve one of the best defenses in the league to do so. Aaron Rodgers might very well earn an MVP nod with a stellar performance and the Lions are looking for their first win in Lambeau since 1991.
Seeing that Green Bay has won five of the last seven and seven of the last ten against Detroit, it is not surprise to see the online betting sites listing the Packers as 7.5 point favorites. The Lions are 0-4 against the spread in their last four road contest and are just 1-4 ATS in their last five at Lambeau. The Pack has 21 ATS wins in their last 29 games against teams with winning records and the favorite is 5-0 against the spread in the last five between these teams.
These teams took the field in Week 3 this year and the Lions emerged victorious by a 19-7 in Detroit. That was part of the Packers scuffling start and the Lions managed to hold Aaron Rodgers to just 162 yards passing. The Detroit defense added a fumble return TD and a safety to dispatch Green Bay but the Packers are a much different team since then. They have won six of their last seven games, dropping just a 21-13 decision in Buffalo to a stingy Bills team. The Lions are a bit different than way back in Week 3 as well. They have won the last two games but the offense has sputtered and they have scored just 36 points total in those wins.
There are two storylines to factor this week and they involve very important players for each team. Detroit C Dominic Raiola will miss the game while serving a suspension for intentionally stomping on a Chicago player last week. Matthew Stafford has taken exactly two snaps from a center other than Raiola in his career and it remains to be seen what kind of impact that has on the Detroit offense. Aaron Rodgers suffered a calf strain in last weeks win against Tampa. This is the second time that Rodgers has dealt with a minor calf issue and he was visibly limping during points last week. He did get in light work during practice this week and while there is no danger of him missing the game, his mobility is a key to his success. A limited Rodgers is good news for the Lions.
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These teams are very familiar with each other and while Green Bay has gotten the better of Detroit for the most part, the Lions provide some matchup problems. The Packers are just 22nd in run defense and Joique Bell and Reggie Bush are capable of gouging defenses both inside and out. Bell and Bush are involved in the pass game as well and Green Bay has had some difficulty in defending pass-catching backs. Bush looked healthy and quick last week and could be a thorn in Green Bays side if he gets going on Sunday. Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate will work against a secondary that is without Devon House and Megatron has put up another 1,000 yard receiving season, even while dealing with injury. The Lions offense has not been great but they have the kind of pieces to attack the weak spots of the Packers.
The on-paper matchup of Green Bays offense against Detroits D is just fantastic. The Packers score the second most point while the Lions allow the second fewest. Green Bay has risen to the 11th best running team behind Eddie Lacy but Detroit allows just 63 rushing yards per game. Rodgers has two elite receivers in Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb but the Green Bay offensive line has left A-Rod exposed at times and Detroit often gets easy pressure with just the front seven and have nine players with multiple sacks.
All in all, this is a very fitting way to crown a NFC North Division champion. Strength against strength and plenty of playmakers on both sides of the ball. An interesting aspect that might tilt this game is what teams defensive stars have the best day. So much attention is paid to the offensive names that you can forget how important guys like Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers are. Matthews has ten sacks and Peppers has accounted for five turnovers and two defensive touchdowns. Detroit counters with DeAndre Levy (110 tackles) and Glover Quin (7 interceptions) and the team that gets the most out of their star defenders might very well get the win on that aspect alone. Green Bay hasnt been 7.5 points better than anyone over the last five games outside of the pitiful Bucs and ultimately, I think they will fall short of covering this game. Detroit wont win, but they have enough offense to push the Packers into a corner and certainly have enough defense to limit Rodgers and Co. The Packers sneak out a win, something like 27-24, but put your money on the Lions with the points.
Evergreens Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Detroit