New England Patriots (9-2 SU, 7-4 ATS) vs. Green Bay Packers (8-3 SU, 6-4-1 ATS)
NFL Week 13
Date and Time: Sunday, November 30, 2014, 4:25 pm EST
Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wis.
TV: CBS, DirecTV 715
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: NE +3/GB +3
Over/Under Total: 58
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The executives at CBS are certain to be thankful they get to telecast a game that will surely be billed as a potential Super Bowl preview this Sunday afternoon, when Tom Brady and the New England Patriots square off against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers from historic Lambeau Field.
New England has arguably taken the role as favorite away from the Broncos to emerge as the likely winner of the AFC title this year, partly due to their seven-game winning streak that has featured impressive wins over Denver and Indianapolis along the way. Last weekend the Pats stomped all over the top-ranked defense in the NFL, running up 34 points and almost 450 total yards in their, 34-9, destruction of the Detroit Lions at home in Gillette Stadium. But this week they will have to go back on the road, and the road has been the only place where the Patriots havent looked invincible as the venue for their only two losses of the season thus far.
Theyll run into a team that is almost as equally hot right now in the form of the Green Bay Packers, who have won seven of their last eight games and have become the team that nobody wants to play down the stretch as the race for the NFC title heats up. Green Bay struggled a little last weekend on the road in Minnesota, slipping past the Vikings by a 24-21 score. But visions of the Packers back-to-back 50 point games the previous two weeks will be filling the video screens back in the Patriots headquarters in Foxborough, so taking the Packers and Rodgers lightly this week because they struggled against the Vikings just isnt an option for New England as long as the hoodie is still in charge there.
Oddsmakers seem to be allowing the market to set the point spread for this Sundays showdown game at Lambeau Field, as they installed the Packers in the role of the typical 3-point favorite that the home team usually gets just for playing on their home turf. Ironically, the number has yet to really move yet, although there are a few sportsbooks that have adjusted the juice on the 3-point number up to -120 or -125 if you want to take the Packers at home and lay the wood.
The over/under total opened at 58 and has moved up a point to 59 at a few books, but a large majority of them both out in Las Vegas and offshore on the web are still listing 58 as the total up on their boards.
Offensively theres not much that you wont like in this matchup. Brady-vs.-Rodgers will feature to of the best in the game and two of the NFLs leading candidates for league MVP this season. The Packers have RB Eddie Lacy and receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb all having career years with outrageous stats to boot, while the Pats have gone with relatively unknown and outcast players like Jonas Gray, LaGarrett Blount, Brandon LaFell and Julian Edelman to pile up enormous yards throughout the season. With New England ranked No. 1 (32.5 ppg) and Green Bay No. 2 (32.2 ppg), both defense will likely have a few sleepless nights this week as they try and prepare ways to slow these two squads down come Sunday.
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Which brings us to where this game will likely turn defense. Its no secret that the Packers defense has been run on a lot thus far (allowing 137 ypg 30th), but they also have two of the leagues best at putting pressure on the opposing quarterback in Julius Peppers and Clay Mathews. So while they will likely face a barrage of carries from Gray and Blount in the game, they also could be successful at putting Brady on his backside a bunch of times, and we all know that getting Brady off rhythm and scrambling for his survival is historically one of the best ways of beating the Patriots.
Likewise, the Pats secondary has developed into one of the best at holding opposing pass offenses to minimal gains, despite their 16th-ranked stats at 242 yards a game. But Lacy has emerged in recent weeks as a solid runner between the tackles and if the Packers can get him going early, it could open up the passing game for Rodgers when they go three- and four-wide to try and take on the Pats defensive backs not named Darrelle Revis or Brandon Browner. Kyle Arrington has played strong as the Pats slot-corner in passing situations, but hell be challenged this week by Cobb unless they choose to move Browner or Revis off the outside and inside to try and take away Cobbs crossing patterns over the middle.
New England has gotten the better of the two teams in recent matchups with the Packers, beating them, 31-27, at home in 2010 in the last meeting between these two. They also crushed them in their last visit to Lambeau back in 2006, by a 35-0 score back when some dude name Favre was firing passes for the Green-n-Gold.
Historical betting trends wont help much on this matchup either, not only due to a lack of sample size, but also because both teams tend to not follow trends to begin with. The road team has gone 4-0-1 ATS in the last five head-to-head meetings, but New England is just 5-11 ATS in their last 16 road games overall so take that for what its worth. Meanwhile, Green Bay is 5-0-1 ATS in their last six home games at Lambeau Field, but none of those games came against someone named Brady or any team as hot as the Patriots are these days, so bet wisely.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This should come down to the which team has the better running game on Sunday and I believe that will be the Packers. New England has been held to fewer than 91 yards in 7 of their 11 games while Green Bay has been held to under 90 yards 5 times this season. Keep in mind that 4 of those games came in the first four weeks for the Packers as their O-line was working out the kinks. Note that New England has faced 4 teams in the top half of the league in rushing yards per game this season splitting the games but losing both games on the road by a combined 74-34. Some Patriots’ money has brought this line down to a reasonable 3 points from the opener of 4 giving this play even more value. Take the Pack -3.