Green Bay Packers (10-3 SU, 7-5-1 ATS) vs. Buffalo Bills (7-6 SU, 7-6 ATS)
NFL Football Week 15
Date and Time: December 14 1pm ET
Where: Ralph Wilson Stadium
by Evergreen, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: GB -5/BUF +5
Over/Under Total: 50
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We are getting down to crunch-time with just a few precious weeks left on the NFL slate. Teams are looking to push for that playoff spot or push ahead and gain home-field advantage. Green Bay head to Buffalo this weekend for what promises to be a bruising matchup and one that could help paint-in some of the that playoff picture. The Bills are hanging on for dear life at 7-6 but an upset here gives them hope with Oakland and New England still ahead. The Packers look good for the postseason but need to keep winning to stay ahead of the lurking Lions in the NFC North and they will need to stay clear of NFC West and South contenders if they want to play in Lambeau through the playoffs.
The Packers are public betting darlings and there has been a lot of action in their direction after the online betting sites tabbed them as five-point favorites. Green Bay is 7-3 against the spread in their last ten games but just 2-5 ATS in the game immediately following an appearance on Monday Night Football. The over/under total for the game is set at 50 and while the over has hit in ten contests featuring Green Bay, the under has paid eleven times for Buffalo already this year.
The most obvious swing match-up in this game is Aaron Rodgers versus the outstanding Bills defense. Buffalo enters the week 5th in passing yards allowed and 4th in points allowed, surrendering just 18.4 per game. They bullied Peyton Manning last week and they have a fair chance of making Rodgers uncomfortable with three Bills at 9.5 sacks or better. Rodgers is the likely league MVP behind 35 touchdowns and just 3 interceptions but all three of those picks have come on the road and the Green Bay offense has been just a half-step slower in away games this year. They are still the best in the league, averaging 32.5 points per game but the Pack has looked ordinary against elite defenses like Seattle and Detroit.
You know what you are going to get with Rodgers, especially in regards to Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. That trio has combined for 22 passing touchdowns and has proven capable of both the big play and a move-the-chains type of scheme. Eddie Lacy is the oft-overlooked sparkplug to this offense however and he has run well in the second portion of the schedule, raising his yards per carry average to 4.5 from just over 3.5 after six weeks. Lacy has seven touchdowns and is alive in the passing game, adding four more receiving scores, and his ability to get something going on the ground will let A-Rod find those dynamic receivers most effectively.
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Kyle Orton captains the ship for the Bills and the veteran has kept thing moving in the right direction. Orton isnt a top-level talent at QB but controls the game and makes good decisions, throwing for 14 touchdowns against 7 interceptions. Fred Jackson is back to near full health for the Buffalo and he is the do-it-all guy for this offense. Jackson is a capable runner but really poses a match-up problem in the pass game when he has 53 receptions despite missing time this season. The Packers have playmakers on defense like Clay Matthew and Julius Peppers but neither of them is particularly good at pass coverage and it will be a win for the Bills if one of them is tasked with covering Jackson instead of rushing the passer. Sammy Watkins can take the top off the defense but the Bills pass game is designed to pick up yards underneath and grind out clock. Robert Woods and Chris Hogan are serviceable possession options for Orton and he has spread it around plenty with nine different Bills catching at least one touchdown pass.
Green Bay has won five straight games but the last three in that stretch have come by three, five and seven points, making this five-point line right in danger zone for the Pack. It seems pretty clear that the Packers are a better team overall but the Bills just gave Denver a scare and could very well do the same thing here. The offensive line play for the Packers has been better of late but is still average at best in pass protection and Buffalo enters the week with 48 sacks. Getting to Rodgers will be a key to slowing an epic offense. The Bills do not really have the playmakers to stress out many defenses but Green Bay is just 26th in yards allowed and 25th in run defense so there is some thought that the Buffalo can control the ball and keep this score manageable. If the Pack gets out fast, it is probably all over as Buffalo does not possess the offense to mount a comeback the way Atlanta did last week against Green Bay.
Look for a lot of Fred Jackson running and pass catching for the Bills with some short routes sprinkled in to move the chains. Scott Chandler could see a lot of action in the seam as Green Bay struggles to cover the tight end. Ultimately, I think Rodgers gets too comfortable and the Packers pick things up in the second half and win with a cover. It wont be easy but look for a 27-20 win by the Packers.
Evergreens Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Green Bay