Detroit Lions (3-4 SU, 3-4 ATS) vs. Green Bay Packers (4-3 SU, 3-4 ATS)
NFL Week 9
Date/Time: Monday, November 6 at 8:30PM EST
Where: Lambeau Field
by Evergreen, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: DET -2.5/GB +2.5
Over/Under Total: 43
We move past the halfway point in the 2017 NFL season this week and there are very few teams, if any, that have declared themselves as absolute playoff locks. That unparalleled parity has allowed many flawed teams to hang around and most divisions are up in the air at this point, as are the wildcards. Detroit heads to Green Bay to take on the Packers in the Monday Night game this week with both teams alive for a potential playoff berth but both are also teetering on the edge of irrelevant. Green Bay has not looked good for most of the six quarters since Aaron Rodgers went out but they are coming off a bye week and that is going to give Brett Hundley the best chance he can have to put in a better performance. Detroit enters having lost three straight but they do have a win against the division leading Vikings under their belt and the easier portion of their schedule is ahead. A win this week could propel Detroit into second in the NFC North and they would drastically improve their playoff outlook with tiebreakers in tow.
With a healthy Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay has won seven of the last ten in this series while putting up a 7-3 ATS record. The favorite has covered in nine of those games and 16 of the last 21 between these teams. This game opened as a pick-em but early betting has pushed the Lions to 2.5 point favorites. Detroit is just 1-7 against the spread in their last eight games against a winning team but Green Bay does not have the look of a winning team right now.
We have seen Green Bay struggle with offensive line injuries and Detroit can sympathize this week as four tackles are on the injury report as questionable. The extra day of rest that comes with playing Monday could be valuable to some or all of those lineman but any limitations along the line are a direct impediment to a running game that is already ranked 28th in the league. Green Bay has healed up their offensive line injuries for the most part but their defense remains banged up, especially at LB and CB depth positions and the Packers have fallen to 21st in points allowed at 23 per game. Rodgers was so adept at covering up for the defensive limitations and allowed that defense to play with a lead. Hundley has not been able to replicate that in any meaningful way so far and the Packers D simply faded during the Saints game even though they were spotted a lead. Another underwhelming offensive performance by Green Bay could have them lose in similar fashion.
Green Bay did see great success in running the ball early against the Saints with Aaron Jones, again proving he is the best pure runner in the Packer backfield. The plan will likely be to feature him again but Detroit brings the 7th best rushing defense. A couple of back have reached 100 yards against the Lions this year but they needed at least 21 carries to do so and it remains to be seen if Mike McCarthy can commit to the run to that extent. Even after a good start by Jones, McCarthy was quick to bail on the rush, only letting Jones tote the ball eight times in the second half as New Orleans found their offensive rhythm. Detroits 25th ranked pass defense looks like the place to attack but Hundley has thrown for only one score against four interceptions in his relief work with barely a 50% completion rate. You can understand that Green Bay wants to use Davante Adams, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb to win games but they are rendered useless if Hundley cant get them the ball. You have to wonder if the Packer front office is thinking of bailing on their current back-up given the news that they courted free agent Brian Hoyer on Tuesday.
Detroit has played some tough defenses so far with three of their four losses coming by seven points or less. Even against those stout defensive units, the Lions still average a 9th best 25.1 points per game and are solid 12th in the passing game. Green Bay is 16th against the pass and 23rd in total yards allowed to give Detroits offense a slight edge in the macro offense-defense matchup. The familiarity that comes from being a division opponent also gives Detroit an advantage as they have been preparing for years to find a way to limit the best QB in the biz or find a way to score 30+ points in order to win. Green Bay shares the familiarity aspect but they are left scrambling on both sides of the ball to figure out life without Aaron Rodgers. After a couple of early interceptions by Drew Brees, the Saints established the run and then worked the shorter range passes to push Green Bay around after the first quarter. Detroit surely watched that tape and learned that the no-frill basics may be enough to win this week.
I almost hate harping on the Rodgers injury as the only aspect in this game but it is inescapable. Detroit is bottom-5 is sacks allowed this season and that would be a tremendous weakness, especially with a banged-up line, but Stafford wont likely have to throw as often as he would have against a Rodgers-led team. When he does throw, it will be on Detroits terms and the Lions can utilize Golden Tate or Theo Riddick in the quick catch game underneath to get the ball out fast. Green Bays defense is fine with a lead but they struggle when they have to account for both the run and the pass. What are the chances that Hundley has the Packers up 10+ points in the second half to turn Detroit pass-happy? Not good. Green Bay has lost the time of possession battle by 19 minutes since Rodgers went out. That is too much time on the field for that defense and simply not enough plays for the offense to find a groove or even change field position on most drives.
Blind betting is normally a bad thing, but until Green Bay proves they can do something consistent on offense to protect the defense, I think I would bet against them until the point spreads start getting significantly larger. Detroit knows what the atmosphere is going to be like in Lambeau and the weather is forecasted to be clear Monday Night. Both would be potential issues but it doesnt appear that they will be enough to put the Packers at a significant advantage. If Detroit can keep the turnovers at even or better, there is every reason to think they will have the ball in the fourth quarter with a lead. I like the Lions chances to move and score late if necessary and any win at 3-points or better will pay. Take Detroit, I think they sneak out with a 24-20 win.
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