The Green Bay Packers (8-4) are tied with the Chicago Bears atop the NFC North with the Pack winning and the Bears losing last week, while the disappointing Detroit Lions (4-8) will miss out on the playoffs this season as this team is just not equipped to hold a late lead without a running game.
The Packers are favored by -6½ on Sunday Night Football with the total set at 51.
1. Why Detroit will cover the spread: Ironically, the Lions will cover this spread if the continue to do what they have been doing in recent weeks, which is open up quick leads by throwing the ball to the super-hot Calvin Johnson, and then trying to hold on. Johnson had an incredible 13 catches for 171 yards vs. the Indianapolis Colts last week, as for the second straight week, the Lions led for virtually the entire game before losing on the game’s final play.
The Green Bay pass defense has been exposed by competent quarterbacks as of last, and Matthew Stafford is well beyond competent. That is why the Lions now lead the NFL in passing offense with 312.5 yards per game, recently passing the New Orleans Saints.
2. Why Green Bay will cover the spread: The Packers will cover this spread if they can apply pressure on Stafford, and even if they do not necessarily sack him, at least make him hurry his throws. Green Bay can certainly tee off and set its sights on Stafford without any fear of the Lions’ running game, but the problem is that sack leader Clay Matthews remains doubtful as of now, and in his absence, Green Bay has a grand total of one sack in the last two games including none vs. Christian Ponder and the Vikings last Sunday.
A second key to a Green Bay cover would be to get just respectable numbers from the running game. That again could be an issue as while the Packers had their best rushing game of the season last week with 152 yards, James Starks, who rushed for 66 of those yards and a touchdown, suffered a knee injury, leaving inconsistent second-year man Alex Green to carry the workload.
3. Total Talk: We like the ‘over’ in this contest as the Packers have found no one on defense to pick up the slack for Matthews, and do not forget that Chares Woodson is questionable and has not played since breaking his collarbone in Week 7. Thus, Stafford having time to throw the ball to Megatron vs. a banged up defense is a scary proposition. Of course you cannot sleep on Aaron Rodgers either and he has overcome not getting much run support many times before.
We see this as an aerial shootout between the two quarterbacks with both running games struggling. We are picking the Packers to win the game and the Lions to cover the spread, and do not be surprised of the Lions blow another late lead. The difference this time though is that Detroit is a decided underdog.
4. Betting Trends for LIONS/PACKERS: The ‘over’ is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings in Green Bay and the Lions are 9-4-2 ATS in their last 15 games on grass.
Green Bay 31 – Detroit 28
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