Green Bay Packers (7-4 SU, 6-5 ATS) vs. Detroit Lions (4-7 SU, 4-7 ATS)
NFL Week 13
Date/Time: Thursday, December 3, 2015 at 8:25PM EST
Where: Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
TV: NFL Network
by Scott, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: GB -3/DET +3
Over/Under Total: 47
The Green Bay Packers come to Ford Field to face the Detroit Lions on Thursday Night Football. This is an NFC North battle and the second game of the season between these two teams, each of whom last played on Thanksgiving. They both get a little extra break heading into this game. The once-flourishing Packers and slumping Lions have reversed form. Detroit beat the Eagles on bird day, 45-14, scoring their third straight win. The Packers, meanwhile, fell to the Bears at home on Thanksgiving, 17-13. It was their 4th loss on 5 games after a 6-0 start. Green Bay will be looking to right the ship on Thursday.
In their first game of the season three weeks ago at Lambeau, Detroit scored an unexpected triumph, 18-16. It was the first real sign that the Packers season had begun to get sideways. It was their third straight loss and first loss that really raised eyebrows. In their first two losses, they lost on the road to unbeaten teams Denver and Carolina. But losing at home to Detroit was another matter altogether. But looking back, it was the beginning of a nice run for the Lions, who will be taken more seriously by the Packers in this game.
In the first game, Green Bay was almost able to mount a comeback, with a last-second winning field goal attempt missing. It was a bizarre performance for the Packers, with Aaron Rodgers throwing for 333 yards, as the offense moved the ball fairly easily. And there were no turnovers and no major penalties. But they still couldnt put up many points, with drives stalling and the Detroit D stepping up with big plays. Green Bay knows they can move the ball against this defense, but they need to finish drives this week if they want to win.
Based on the strength of a 6-0 start to the season, the Packers are still in a position to get back on the right track. And their only win in their last five games saw them play really well in a 30-13 road win against the division-leading Minnesota Vikings. Rodgers hasnt been in the best form lately. The aerial attack has suffered this season, despite still having Randall Cobb in there, along with the resurgent James Jones. But Jordy Nelson not being in there this year has hurt and Davante Adams has been a profound disappointment as his role has been increased. The one glimmer of hope from this offense is the recent upsurge of RB Eddie Lacy, who has strung together a pair of consecutive good performances after looking pretty sluggish at times in the first half of the season. But uneven play across the board and a depreciating offensive line has undermined this offenses efforts. The defense has given up just 48 points in the last 3 games and the offense hasnt been able to put up the necessary points, appearing stuck in the mud at times.
Some of the problems Green Bay has are not the kinds of issues that go away overnight. The offense is underachieving and with the line playing the way they have, this team cannot be expected to go far. At the same time, weve seen other struggling lines improve this season, so maybe Green Bay can find some answers. And they have a lot of good players, but they need to all have a good game at the same time.
One needs to take into the consideration the character of a team like the Detroit Lions that is able to reverse form. After getting smoked at home 45-10 by the Chiefs, you would have been hard-pressed to find someone predicting theyd come off the bye with three straight wins. On Thanksgiving, it all came together, albeit against a sideways Eagles bunch. After scoring 18 points in the first two wins of their 3-game streak, they put up 45 points against Philly, as their offense is finally fulfilling their potential. They canned their offensive coordinator and under new OC Jim Bob Cooter, things are coming together a bit better.
Detroit is not doing a ton of damage with their ground game, but at least theyre trying now. Its opened things up a bit. On Thanksgiving, Stafford threw for five touchdowns on 337 yards passing. Calvin Johnson looked like vintage Megatron, catching three touchdown passes. Theo Reddick and Golden Tate each snared a TD pass, as well. Joique Bell added nice production on the ground and through the air. Watching this team most of the season, it was troubling how little production they were getting out of this bunch. An offensive line that was approaching slapstick status this season has raised the level of their game.
Really making it come together for the Lions is the play of their defense. With the offense no longer completely hanging this unit out to dry, theyve been far better in recent weeks, allowing a scant 43 points in their last three games. They gave up more than that in their one loss before the bye week. All aspects of this defense have been carrying their weight. The front has been disrupting quarterbacks while stifling the opposing ground game. Against the Eagles, this front registered 6 sacks. And the secondary has been doing very well, shining against some pretty good receivers in recent weeks. And its been a group that has managed to start coming up with the big timely play. Theyve been fairly dominant for the past several weeks and a struggling Green Bay offense will need to come up with some answers for Thursday.
Five losses in six games would be a hard pill for Green Bay to swallow. Not that they havent been trying hard in recent weeks, but with the crystallization of their predicament and some extra time to ruminate on it, look for some heightened urgency this week. Teams like Detroit who establish positive momentum after a prolonged funk can be hard to dissuade. But I see the Packers putting together a good 60 minutes of football on Thursday, escaping Detroit with the win and the cover.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Green Bay Packers minus 3 points.
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