These Sunday marquee games have been good to me thus far as I've been right on the spread in the Giants over the Cowboys in Week 1 and the Steelers over the Bengals in Week 2. So I'll stick with an intradivision matchup this week as Detroit visits NFL rival Green Bay in the Packers' home opener.
The Packers (1-1) are lucky to not be 0-2 as the NFL recently acknowledged a ton of missed calls that essentially went against Jacksonville in Green Bay's 27-23 win there in Week 1. I don't know how that officiating crew is still employed after the NFL admitted the crew missed at least four pass interference calls committed on wide receiver Allen Robinson. But the big one was a missed defensive holding on Green Bay's Micah Hyde on Jags receiver Rashad Greene that would have given the Jaguars are first-and-goal from the Green Bay 9 with under a minute left. No sure thing the Jaguars punch that in for the win, but instead they were stopped on fourth down further back.
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Detroit (1-1) probably ruined a few Survivor and Confidence Pools last week as the Lions blew a 15-3 fourth-quarter lead at home to Tennessee in a 16-15 defeat. The good news is that the winner of this game should be tied for first in the NFC North by Sunday evening as I don't expect Minnesota (2-0) to win in Carolina. Plus the Vikings now may be without their best offensive player, running back Adrian Peterson, for 3-4 months. The Packers are -160 favorites to win the division at BetOnline with the Lions at +1000.
Lions at Packers Betting Story Lines
Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers was the heavy preseason favorite to win a third NFL MVP Award as everyone expected him to revert to his 2014 MVP form with the return of top receiver Jordy Nelson from an ACL injury that knocked him out all of last year. And while I'm sure a good 28 other teams would take Rodgers over their current QB, he hasn't been at a superstar level for a while. Last week in a 17-14 loss in Minnesota, Rodgers fumbled three times, losing one, and threw a crushing late interception that was completely his fault. Rodgers' rating this year is 82.6, which is 22nd in the NFL and one behind Cowboys rookie Dak Prescott. Rodgers hasn't had a game rating of at least 100 since the Packers' sixth game of last year (including playoffs). Green Bay is 6-8 in that stretch. Rodgers had the NFL's all-time passer-rating leader of 104.1 entering this season.
The Packers' play-calling seems rather predictable these days under Mike McCarthy as he basically stays in the same three-receiver sets. Nelson does have a touchdown catch in each game, so that's a positive. But he's averaging only 9.5 yards per catch. Randall Cobb looks nothing like the 2014 guy as he's averaging 9.0 yards per catch with no scores. And why not use Eddie Lacy more? He hasn't had more than 14 carries in a game but is averaging a solid 4.3 yards per carry. Green Bay is 29th in the league in total offense. That's stunning.
Injury-wise, Green Bay for sure will be without nose tackle Letroy Guion as he suffered a knee injury in the Minnesota loss. Fellow lineman Mike Pennel has two more games to serve in his suspension. Safety Morgan Burnett is in question with a hamstring injury. Linebacker Clay Matthews is banged up but will go.
The Lions didn't just blow that lead last week against the Titans, allowing a 9-yard TD pass on fourth down with 1:13 left, but they were obliterated by injuries. The biggest was to starting running back Ameer Abdullah, who has been placed on injured reserve with a foot injury. Thus he will miss at least eight weeks and potentially the season. Theo Riddick and Dwayne Washington should largely split the load with Abdullah out.
Lions defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (ankle), linebacker Kyle Van Noy (calf) and linebacker Antwione Williams (thigh) also all left the Titans game injured. Ansah, the team's best defensive player, isn't going to play this week. Neither is the team's second-best guy, linebacker DeAndre Levy, who sat last week with a quad injury.
Detroit didn't look like a well-coached team last week, either, totaling more penalty yards (138) than rushing yards (137) and committing its most penalties, 17, since at least 1950. That's on you, Jim Caldwell.
Lions at Packers Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Green Bay is an 8.5-point favorite (-130) with a total of 48. On the moneylines, the Packers are -360 and Lions +300. On the alternate lines, the Pack are -8 (+105), -7.5 (+100) and -7 (-120). Detroit is 1-1 against the spread this season (1-0 on road) and 1-1 "over/under" (1-0 on road). Green Bay is 1-1 ATS and 1-1 O/U, both of course on the road.
The Lions are 5-2 ATS in their past seven vs. the NFC. They are 2-7 ATS in their past nine inside the division. Green Bay is 4-1 ATS in its past five after a loss. It is 1-4 ATS in its past five at home. The under is 14-5 in Detroit's past 19 on the road. The under is 6-0 in Green Bay's past six at home. The favorite is 7-1 ATS in the past eight meetings.
Free NFL Picks: Lions at Packers Betting Predictions
These teams split two unlikely results last year, with the Lions winning 18-16 in Green Bay to end a 24-game road losing streak in the series, and the Packers winning 27-23 in Detroit on a 61-yard Hail Mary from Rodgers to tight end Richard Rodgers. The same referee from that game, for what it's worth, will ref this game.
This is the first of four straight games at Lambeau Field for the Packers. If the Lions were healthy, I would have jumped all over those 8.5 points. But they are far from that. I'll probably hold out for an alternate line of 6.5, but for now give those 7. Like under the total.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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