What a difference a year makes. After making the playoffs for the first time in twelve years, the Detroit Lions have imploded on and off the field. The offseason was marred by arrests, and now there are players driving recklessly on the road (need I say who this is), players banned from team facilities, and blowing games on the field. The Lions at 4-8 are well out of the playoff picture. They had their shot for several weeks now to stay in the playoff picture, but critical mistakes have prevented them from staying competitive. The Green Bay Packers, by all accounts, are having a down year. After coming short from going undefeated, this was not the kind of the season they were looking for. You’ll most likely find the Packers in the postseason, but they are certainly not as dominant as we have seen them in the past. There is still time to heal up and iron out some kinks, though. The Packers still have a very respectable 8-4, and are 1st in the NFC North. It promises to be an exciting finish between the Packers and Bears in the NFC North to decide the division champion.
The Packers haven’t particularly excelled well at anything this season. They possess a good passing game, but one that doesn’t demand a lot of attention. Part of the problem with the passing game trickles down to injuries and the running game. While the Packers have made it work in the past without much of a running game, this season there is absolutely no ground game to speak of. The early season injury to Cedric Benson sent the Packers in a tailspin. The Packers acquired Benson to be an integral part of the offense, but has been watching on the sidelines instead. Consequently, the running game suffered, currently ranked the 21st in the NFL. As a result, defenses just sit back and prey on Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers is still one of the most talented quarterbacks in this league, and can explode for a pleather of points at the drop of a hat. Rodgers and the passing game are 11th in the NFL, a far cry from the top-5 unit they had out there last season. The Packers got Greg Jennings back last week, but also lost talented receiver Jordy Nelson. They rank 16th in terms of total team offense.
The defense has been a pleasant surprise considering all of the injuries they have had to endure. At one point, they were playing with 6 defensive rookies, but they still performed relatively well. In fact, they are playing a lot better than they have the last couple of season when they had a host of healthy players. The defense is 15th best in the NFL, allowing only 21.6 points a game. Stopping the pass or run doesn’t particularly stick out, as they are 17th and 15th in those regards. The Lions’ offense is a group that can move the ball effectively, and put together some productive drives, but usually stall when they get deep in opposing team’s territory. It is evident from just looking at the yardage they put up, and their record. They are 1st in passing, but only have 4 wins on the year. Much of it is to do with their anemic run game, which hasn’t had any success since the days of Barry Sanders.
Like the Packers, the Lions’ defense has had its fair of injuries. Unlike the Packers, though, the Lions haven’t had any success with their replacements in. It’s the same story with the Lions as their defense blows close games late in contests. It usually comes down to discipline with them, as they commit a bunch of penalties to give opposing teams free yards. They are 18th in pass defense, only one spot behind the Packers, but the Lions allow 26.2 points a game, about 5 points worse than the Packers.
Lions vs. Packers Spread and Betting Odds:
Detroit Lions +7 (-115)
@ Green Bay Packers -7 (-105)
Over 48.5 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Lions vs. Packers Pick:
It would make perfect sense to lay the points with the Packers in this spot if you were to look at their history. The Lions haven’t won at Lambeau since 1991, Aaron Rodgers was just 8 years old. They had a glorious opportunity last year to knock off the Packers at Lambeau in the last game of the season going up against backup Matt Flynn. The game turned into a shootout, and the Lions were on the losing end of a close game once again. This season, the Lions coughed up a late game lead at Ford Field, giving way to another Packers victory over the Lions. The weather conditions at Lambeau promise to be cold and blustery tonight with a good chance of snow.
The Lions are playing for pride at this point, with the Packers attempting to secure the NFC North. With the Bears coming up short against the Vikings today it opens the doors wide open for the Pack. Nevertheless, teams with nothing to play for usually sneak up and surprise in spots like this. In a divisional rivalry game and the conditions less than favorable I tend to lean towards the underdog, so I love the 7 points here.
PICK = Lions +7