Mike McCarthy has been one of the most successful coaches in the NFL with a 101-53-1 regular-season record and one Super Bowl title to his credit since taking over at Green Bay. But even legendary coach Bill Parcells has admitted every coach wears out his welcome at some point. You aren't going to see guys staying decades in jobs these days like a Tom Landry, Chuck Noll or Don Shula.
I mention this because could McCarthy be in some trouble if the Packers miss the playoffs? I rather doubt it, but stranger things have happened. His team hasn't looked right since coming out of its bye week at 6-0. The Pack (7-4) have dropped four of five since, and two of them they definitely should not have lost. They are a game behind the Vikings in the NFC North, and those teams conclude the regular season against one another in Lambeau. At BetOnline, the Packers are -900 to make the playoffs and +550 not to. They are -110, same as Vikings, to win the division.
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The Lions (4-7) aren't going anywhere, but their three-game winning streak might give whomever the new general manager is thoughts about keep Jim Caldwell as head coach; Caldwell looked like he had zero percent chance of returning when his team was 1-7. All the Lions have really accomplished with this is ruined their shot at the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft. They aren't even a betting option on that prop at BetOnline (Browns are +175 favorites).
Packers at Lions Betting Story Lines
I was totally stunned that Green Bay lost at home to Chicago 17-13 on Thanksgiving Night because Aaron Rodgers simply doesn't lose to the Bears, especially at home, and it was such an emotional night with Brett Favre's ceremony. But Rodgers, who had four chances inside the Bears' 10 at the end of the game to win but couldn't convert, was outplayed by Jay Cutler -- never, ever thought I'd write that -- in completing only 22-for-43 for 202 yards, a TD and a pick. His rating of 62.4 was easily his worst of the season. Rodgers had three straight games with a rating of at least 116.9 to open the season. He has just one over 99.0 since then.
I've written this before and will keep doing so: injured receiver Jordy Nelson is badly missed. Davante Adams, who was supposed to be Nelson's primary replacement, caught just two of 11 passes thrown to him against Chicago, including dropping a likely touchdown. He's not having a good season after so much promise as a rookie. Randall Cobb also has regressed and is dropping balls left and right like Adams. McCarthy needs to take back play-calling duties from coordinator Tom Clements. The Packers are 23rd in third-down conversion rate and yards per pass attempt, 25th in completion percentage (three games in, Rodgers was completing 73.6 percent of his throws) and 24th in time of possession. On the bright side, the defense has been fine and Eddie Lacy is back in form and clearly the No. 1 running back again.
So why are the Lions suddenly winning? They were never as bad as that 1-7 start. Detroit should have won Week 1in San Diego and Week 4 in Seattle and then things would have been vastly different. The defense has definitely stepped it up the past three games, not allowing more than 16 points in any. End Ezekiel Ansah is playing like a Pro Bowler, is No. 2 in the NFL with 11.5 sacks and tied for the league lead with four forced fumbles. The offense hadn't been all that great until Thanksgiving's 45-14 blowout of the Eagles in which Matthew Stafford threw for 337 yards and personal-best five touchdowns, three to Calvin Johnson. Detroit still can't run the ball whatsoever.
The biggest upset of the season, in my opinion (and a game that ruined Survivor and Confidence Pools everywhere), was in Week 10 at Lambeau Field when the Lions won 18-16 as 11-point underdogs. I'd like to say I saw that coming as Green Bay was off tough road losses to unbeaten teams Denver and Carolina and the Detroit off its bye week and had only one win. But that would be a lie. Stafford was 24-for-38 for 242 yards with two scores and a pick as the Lions ended a 24-game road losing streak in the series despite Matt Prater missing two extra points. Mason Crosby missed a 52-yard field goal as time expired after the Packers recovered an onside kick that was mishandled by Detroit's Johnson with around 30 seconds left. The Packers had been stopped on a 2-point try on the previous play. Rodgers threw the ball a season-high 61 times, completing 35 for 333 yards and two scores. Neither team could run the ball.
Packers at Lions Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Green Bay is a 3-point favorite (-105) with a total of 46.5. On the moneyline, the Packers are -155 and Lions +135. On the alternate lines, the Pack are -3.5 (+120) and -2.5 (-130). Green Bay is 6-5 against the spread (3-2 on road) and 3-8 "over/under" (2-3 on road). Detroit is 4-7 ATS (2-4 at home) and 6-5 O/U (4-2 at home).
The Packers are 5-2-1 ATS in their past eight after a loss. They are 4-11 ATS in their past 15 vs. teams with a losing record. The Lions have covered four straight on Thursday. They are 1-6 ATS in their past seven inside the division. The under is 6-0 in Green Bay's past six vs. teams with a losing record. The under is 8-3 in Detroit's past 11 against teams with a winning record. The home team is 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings. The under has hit in five of the previous seven.
NFL Expert Picks Against the Spread: Packers at Lions Betting Predictions
Get Megatron in there if he's on your fantasy team. He has caught at least one touchdown pass in seven straight Thursday games. In his past seven against Green Bay overall, Johnson has 48 catches for 808 yards and five touchdowns. Stafford also has shined (1,498 yards, 12 TDs) in his past four Thursday games. On the flip side, Rodgers is 10-3 against Detroit as a starter with 24 touchdowns for a 106.8 passer rating.
No edge in terms of preparation since both played last Thursday. This is the first time the Packers have played on consecutive Thursdays since 2007 and it's only their third prime-time game in Detroit since the merger. Green Bay is 8-5 at Ford Field, a .615 winning percentage that is No. 1 among teams that have played five or more games there.
I don't know what to make of the Packers, honestly. But I'll back them and give the 2.5-point alternate line. Go under.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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