Detroit Lions vs Green Bay Packers (1/8 @ 8:20 PM EST)
Spread: Packers -5
Money Line: Lions +190 / Packers -240
Overview and Betting Info
The Detroit Lions (8-8) will head to the Frozen Tundra on Sunday night to take on the Green Bay Packers (8-8). The Lions won their first matchup 15-9 at home, their second in a row in the series. The winner will capture a wild card spot, while the loser is likely out.
The Lions have gone 11-5 against the spread this season and have covered eight of their last nine games. They have gone over the total ten times, including three of their previous five.
The Packers are 8-8 versus the spread and have covered their last four games. They have gone over the total in half of their games, including five of their previous seven.
The Lions’ offense averages 393.4 yards and 27.1 points per game this season. That makes them third in yards and fourth in points in the NFL. They are led by Jared Goff, who is having a great season with 4,214 yards (6th in NFL) and 29 touchdowns (4th in NFL). He has six touchdowns and 610 yards over his last two games and hasn’t thrown an interception since November 6th. The quarterback has been protected well, too, with just three sacks over his previous four games.
A big reason for Goff’s success has been due to a breakout season from Amon-Ra St. Brown. The second-year receiver has 1,112 yards and six touchdowns. He’s been quieter over their last four games, averaging 70.5 yards per game without a touchdown. St. Brown is joined by Kalif Raymond (550 yards, 0 TD), DJ Chark (488 yards, 3 TD), and Josh Reynolds (463 yards, 3 TD). Chark missed over a month of the season but has been fantastic since his return.
The Lions’ backfield has been led by a career year from Jamaal Williams. The veteran back has 994 yards and leads the NFL with 15 touchdowns. The former Packer was initially slated to be the teams’ change of pace back, but he’s been productive enough to earn the 8th most carries in the NFL. Williams is coming off a game where he went for 144 yards and a touchdown and should have more success Sunday against a Packers’ defensive line he is very familiar with. Williams is joined by a talented back in D’Andre Swift (517 yards, 5 TD). He’s had a down year but has been a more effective rusher in the second half of the season and also has 328 yards and five touchdowns through the air.
The Detroit defense allows 414.3 yards (32nd in NFL) and 25.7 (29th) points per game. They’ve been better over their last five games, allowing just 20 points per game during that span. They have been led by the play of Alex Anzalone, who leads the team with 117 tackles, six TFLs, one interception, and 1.5 sacks. The linebacker has been making play all over the field, allowing James Houston (8 sacks, 7 TFL) and Aidan Hutchinson (7.5 sacks, 7 TFL, 3 INT) to find success. Houston will be the player to watch, as his eight sacks came over the last six games (including 3 last week). Their secondary is led by Kerby Joseph (6 PD, 3 INT), Jeff Okudah (7 PD, 1 INT), and Jerry Jacobs (8 PD, 1 INT).
Green Bay Packers
The Packers have won four straight, thanks partly to an offense that averages 355.9 yards and 22.1 points per game. After a disappointing start, the offense has been hot over their last three games and averaged 30 points over their previous five games. Aaron Rodgers again leads this team and has thrown 3,490 yards and 25 touchdowns on the year. He’s been dealing with a thumb injury that has hampered him all season, making him more of a game manager than an MVP. Still, he’s putting the offense in a position to score points and is always dangerous in Lambeau.
The Packers’ receiving corps is led by the play of Allen Lazard (747 yards, 5 TD) and Christian Watson (507 yards, 7 TD). Lazard has been an excellent possession receiver and one of the league’s best blockers. Watson is their big play threat, as the rookie has settled in and become a primary weapon for this offense. He’s been quieter the last four games, but that can partly be due to the play of Rodgers. We’ll also be watching Romeo Doubs (425 yards, 3 TD), as the rookie has become a valuable third option for Green Bay.
The Packers backfield is loaded, led by Aaron Jones (1,073 yards, 3 TD) and AJ Dillon (737 yards, 7 TD). Jones has been the playmaker, with another 375 yards and five touchdowns through the air. He has surprisingly great hands and has a habit of getting open. While we expect him to play, Jones is dealing with a knee/ankle injury that has limited him in practice and last week’s game. Luckily, the Packers have another tremendous young back in the bruising AJ Dillon. Regardless if Jones plays, expect to see Dillon get plenty of touches as he has six touchdowns in his last five games.
The Packers’ defense is allowing 349.8 yards and 21.9 points per game. While they were awful for the first half of the season, they have played like an elite unit over their last four games (17 PPG in that span). Their success is partly due to the resurgence of Preston Smith (8.5 sacks, 9 TFL) and Kenny Clark (4 sacks, 5 TFL). Smith has three sacks in their last three games and is finding his way into the backfield much more. Clark has been a force in the middle and picked up a huge strip sack last week against the Vikings. While the run defense has been an issue, they have vastly improved over their previous four games. The secondary has been fantastic of late, led by Pro Bowler Jaire Alexander (14 PD, 5 INT) and Rasul Douglas (13 PD, 4 INT).
Free Pick: Packers -5
This is the most important game between these two teams in a long time, so we’re taking the one with the experience. While this is Week 18, it is essentially a playoff game in one of the league’s most challenging places to play. Goff has playoff experience, but he will be facing a secondary playing better than anyone in the league. We expect Williams and Swift to find some success, but a renewed Packers defensive line should be able to contain it enough to force Goff to make plays. With Alexander and Douglas locking down Justin Jefferson last week, we think they have no issue containing St. Brown and Goff this week. We believe Rodgers will be good enough to allow the run game to drive them to victory.
We’re giving up the points to take the Packers here.