Monday Night Football Predictions: Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers Odds & Picks
The broken collarbone suffered by Packers star quarterback Aaron Rodgers continues to be felt in the NFC. Add in the six-game suspension that Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott now must serve (as of now), and I think you have an answer as to why it was such a crazy trade deadline around the NFL this week.
In my opinion, neither Green Bay nor Dallas will make the playoffs now - especially the Packers. Maybe the Cowboys can sneak in as a wild card. With the Falcons regressing, the NFC is wide open. So teams like Philadelphia and Seattle are pushing their chips all-in, with the Eagles trading for Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi and the Seahawks landing Texans left tackle Duane Brown. Those two clubs are the clear favorites in the conference. Are they as aggressive if Rodgers is healthy and playing like an MVP candidate as he was and Elliott wasn't suspended? Guess we will never know.
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Minnesota (6-2) is on the bye this week, leads the NFC North and is the -300 favorite at BetOnline to win the division for the second time in three years. I'm certainly not sold on Vikings QB Case Keenum, but Minnesota has the best defense in the division. The Vikes have lost to Detroit but beat Green Bay in the game Rodgers went down. Minnesota travels to Motown on Thanksgiving and Lambeau Field on Dec. 23.
Green Bay (4-3) is +600 to win the North coming out of its bye week. As far as we know, Rodgers is done for the season, although I'm not ruling out a late-season return if a playoff berth can be had. Detroit (3-4) has the longest division drought in the NFC, not winning a title since 1993. The Lions would absolutely have to win this game to have any shot. Neither the Packers nor Lions made trades ahead of the deadline.
Lions at Packers Betting Story Lines
Rodgers was back with his team this week, but that was to provide support and help teach new starting QB Brett Hundley the offense - Hundley spent the bye week in Green Bay soaking up as much as he could (teams can't practice during the bye, though, per the new CBA). "The biggest thing he can get to Brett is just to play a little faster," Coach Mike McCarthy said of Rodgers' tutelage.
Hundley was terrible in his first NFL start in Week 7, a 26-17 home loss to New Orleans. The former UCLA star was 12 of 25 for 87 yards with a pick, although he did run three times for 44 yards and a score. I fully expect McCarthy to take advantage of that mobility. You are also going to see heavy doses of rookie running back Aaron Jones, who rushed 17 times for 131 yards and a touchdown vs. the Saints. The fifth-round pick out of UTEP has been a revelation and has essentially pushed Ty Montgomery out of his starting job. Jones, who never got a carry until Week 4, is averaging a whopping 5.6 yards per carry. Fellow rookie Kareem Hunt leads the NFL with 763 rushing yards and his YPC is 5.2.
I've never quite seen what the Lions did Sunday night in a crushing 20-15 loss to Pittsburgh, the team's third straight defeat. If you tell me a team I'm backing puts up 482 yards of offense while winning the turnover and time of possession battles, then I'm feeling pretty confident that's a winning bet. Except the Lions bombed in the red zone and settled for five Matt Prater field goals. There was some really questionable play-calling when Detroit had a first-and-10 at the Steelers 11 with 2:55 left. Needless to say, the Lions didn't score the go-ahead TD.
They ran a total of 16 plays Sunday in the red zone without scoring a TD. That's an NFL high this year. Matthew Stafford simply doesn't have one of those big red-zone targets like a Calvin Johnson - there were reports other teams tried to trade for Megatron's rights ahead of the deadline in hopes of luring him out of retirement. He's just what the Lions need. Sunday was Stafford's eighth career 400-yard passing game, and amazingly he has thrown for one or no touchdowns four times.
I wonder if the Lions even spoke to the Dolphins about Ajayi? He might have solved a perennial ground game problem. Yet again, the Lions are among the NFL's worst rushing teams in averaging 82.1 yards per game. The Detroit offensive line has struggled without starting left tackle Taylor Decker, who has yet to play this season due to a shoulder injury this spring. He finally returned to practice Wednesday, which starts a three-week window to be activated or shut down for the season. You surely won't see him Monday, but perhaps in Week 10. Detroit does have a very easy schedule the rest of the way.
Lions at Packers Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Detroit is a 2.5-point favorite (-115) with a total of 43. On the moneyline, the Lions are -140 and Packers +120. On the alternate lines, Detroit is -3 (+110) and -2 (-120). Detroit is 3-4 against the spread (2-1 on road) and 4-3 "over/under" (1-2 on road). Green Bay is 3-4 ATS (2-2 at home) and 4-3 O/U (2-2 at home).
The Lions are 6-0 ATS in their past six in November. They are 2-5 ATS in their past seven after a loss. The Packers are 10-3-1 ATS in their past 14 after a bye week. They are 5-2 ATS in their previous seven against the NFC North. The under is 5-1 in Detroit's past six vs. the NFC North. It's 5-1 in Green Bay's past six after a bye. The Lions are 1-5 ATS in their past six at Lambeau.
Lions at Packers Betting Prediction
I'm sure you know by now that Detroit has dropped 25 of its past 26 in Wisconsin (Packers would occasionally play in Milwaukee back in the day). That win came in 2015. Last year, Green Bay swept with Rodgers throwing for four TD passes in each. They met in Week 17 at Ford Field in a winner-take-all game for the NFC North title. They play again there to close this season.
I'm quite torn here. If this game were in Detroit, I'd be all over the Lions. Also find it hard to believe that Hundley is that terrible considering the Packers kept him around all this time and they have a great track record with backup QBs. Only because of that extra week to prepare and being in Lambeau will I take Green Bay +3 (probably wait for 3.5). Go under the total.
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