Pick Green Bay Packers Over Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers (2-1-1 SU, 2-2 ATS) vs. Detroit Lions (1-3 SU, 3-1 ATS)
NFL Football Week 5
Date and Time: October 7 at 1pm ET
Where: Ford Field
By: Ted Walker, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Spread: GB -1.5/DET +1.5
We have breezed right through the first quarter of the season and while there is still plenty of football to be played, there are some teams that are already trending to the edge of irrelevance. The Detroit Lions enter the week at 1-3 and are in last place in the NFC North as they welcome the Green Bay Packers to town. A Lions loss puts them in a real bad spot as Chicago has broken out to a hot start with Green Bay and Minnesota looking very dangerous even while scuffling in the early season. First year head coach Matt Patricia was able to trounce his former employer as the Lions took out the Patriots two weeks ago but is has been three L’s otherwise. Detroit has played well in close losses to San Fran and Dallas but close only counts in horseshoes, hand-grenades and slow dancing. Green Bay will be looking to hit a stride and win a few ahead of what is a very tough portion of their schedule. Detroit needs this to stay alive in many respects but there is a lot on the line for Green Bay as well.
A Full-Go Rodgers?
We have seen Aaron Rodgers limp around quite a bit after suffering a sprained knee in Week 1. He was able to scramble much more effectively last week against the Buffalo Bills and looked very close to 100% when he escaped the pocket. He is likely a bit limited yet but it is a big boost to Green Bay’s offense if No.12 is able to threaten defenses with his legs. Even while hampered, Rodgers has completed nearly 64% of his passes for 1,1,30 yards and seven scores. He has been picked off just once and the Packers have been averaging 32+ minutes of possession with a little more emphasis on the running game to help protect the QB. That Green Bay offensive line has given up the 5th most sacks to this point but that number should go down as Rodgers is better able to evade the rush. Green Bay may not have to worry about DE Ziggy Ansah as he is listed as questionable on the Lions injury report with a bad shoulder. Look for Rodgers to attack a Detroit secondary that could be without starters Darius Slay and Quandre Diggs. Slay left last week’s game with a lower body injury and Diggs is dealing with a broken hand.
Stafford Needs to Shine
Detroit’s chances in this one - or almost any one for that matter - rest on the right arm of Matt Stafford. The veteran QB has the Lions passing game ranked in the top-10 as he has hit on 68% of his throws for 1,202 yards and eight scores. His interceptions are at five already but there has always been a risk/reward element with Stafford. The running game has continued to struggle in Detroit but there are signs of life with rookie Kerryon Johnson averaging 5.7 yards per carry in limited action. Matt Patricia has said he will continue to mix Johnson with veteran LeGarrette Blount and Theo Riddick (21/118 receiving) as the third down back. A true commitment to one back and more runs in general would probably benefit Detroit’s chances in many weeks but the NFL is a passing league and the Lions are going as far as Stafford takes them. He should have a good shot at success this week as Green Bay is beat up in the secondary with Kevin King still nursing a groin injury and his backup Davon House just went to the IR. Jaire Alexander recorded his first interception last week but is also questionable for Sunday, leaving the Packers rather thin in the coverage department. Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay have all seen success so far and it is hard for any team to cover-up three quality options.
Division foes tend to play close given the amount of familiarity they share and this series has essentially been 50-50 in recent years. These teams have split the last ten games straight up and against the spread with four of the last six games decided by seven points or less. The new coaching staff in Detroit could add a few wrinkles to the mix but these teams still know exactly what each other is going to do in most cases. Both teams have also been in close battles on multiple occasions through the first four weeks. Green Bay escaped with a one-point win against Chicago and hung on for a tie against Minnesota in Week 2. Detroit has been on the wrong side of both of its nip-and-tuck battles, losing by a total of five points against the Niner and Cowboys. Green Bay has the best player on the field and has the winning pedigree so it should be to their advantage if another close game breaks out on Sunday.
Pettine Paying Off
The Green Bay defense is still a long way from an elite unit but Mike Pettine’s system has begun to show dividends. The Packers enter Sunday as the 6th ranked defense in total yards allowed and are 11th in points surrendered at 20.8 per game after shutting out the Bills last week. That game included seven sacks and two interceptions and this defensive unit could be a few spots better in the rankings if not for a couple very iffy roughing the passer calls on Clay Matthews. The defense is statistically better than the offense at this point and that is not something that has been the case too often in Green Bay over the last several years. That will likely change as Rodgers gets back to full health but a Packers defense that ranks anywhere near the top-third in the league is probably good enough to win most of the remaining games on the schedule.
I think Detroit is in a bad situation now that Green Bay running back Aaron Jones is getting more carries. Jones is the most electric runner for the Packers and he has averaged 6.3 yards per carry on his 17 totes so far with one score. Green Bay is still using Jamaal Williams to help protect Rodgers but Jones should see the ball more and more as Rodgers gains mobility. Detroit is allowing 5.35 yards per carry on the ground and enters the week dead last in rushing defense. The Packers are a throwing team by nature but they will not hesitate to take what they are given and Rodgers is not shy about checking into runs when the defense has moved extra DBs on the field. The Detroit safeties are going to have to give help on Davante Adams and a suddenly productive Geromino Allison so that Green Bay running game could set the tone early and continue to see success through the day.
The favorite has been able to cash in when these teams meet over the years with underdog winning just 7-of-26 with the points. Green Bay has four ATS wins in their last five against a losing opponent and watch for this one to pay the over as it has in each of the last five meetings between these teams. All the defensive injuries on both squads makes that over bet attractive as well. Rodgers and the Pack have enough in the tank to push ahead and stay there for a 29-26 win.
Your Name’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Green Bay