Matthew Stafford will have some, but not all of his key pieces back when his Detroit Lions try to stop the bleeding in a potential winner-takes-all matchup against the Green Bay Packers.
Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, who are the hottest team in the NFL, are three-point betting favorites against the host Lions with a 49.5-point total for Sunday Night Football, according to sportsbooks monitored by the OddsShark.com.
Detroit has lost three of its last four games to fall into jeopardy of missing the playoffs, but they are 6-0 straight-up and 5-1 against the spread over their last six home games at Ford Field. Green Bay is 18-4 SU in the teams’ last 22 meetings, but interestingly the streaking Packers are 1-6 ATS in their last seven road games after winning their two most recent road games.
Green Bay is 9-6 SU and 7-7-1 ATS, thanks to a five-game win streak where it has averaged 31 points per game. The Lions have a resilient, if far from stingy defense (15th in the NFL), so the Packers will have to be patient and not make mistakes. Rodgers’ best receiver, Jordy Nelson, will have a tougher matchup if CB Darius Slay (hamstring), who practiced this week, returns from one-game absence.
The Packers also have starting WR Randall Cobb (ankle) potentially hobbled. The Lions have only 25 sacks this season, and if the likes Ziggy Ansah and Kerry Hyder can’t get to Rodgers, Detroit’s pass coverage could get exposed.
The Packers, who have been on a roller coaster ride on the odds to win Super Bowl 51, are 3-1 ATS in their last four games against the Lions. Converted WR Ty Montgomery has given Green Bay a reasonable facsimile of a rushing attack.
Detroit is 9-6 SU and 8-7 ATS, on the margin of Stafford having engineered eight victories in games where his team trailed in the fourth quarter. The Packers, with OLB Clay Matthews and OLB Nick Perry, have a strong pass rush and Detroit will need C Travis Swanson – who is back from missing three games due to a brain injury – to shore up their pass protection.
Green Bay allows a NFL-worst 8.0 yards per pass, and provided time to make his reads Stafford should be able to consistently find WR Marvin Jones, WR Golden Tate and slot WR Anquan Boldin.
Running back Theo Riddick (wrist) has been ruled out, leaving Dwayne Washington to prop up Detroit’s 30th-ranked running game. If the Lions are to win, it will come down to their formula of keeping the game close and counting on Stafford to deliver at the decisive stage.
The total has gone OVER in three of the Packers’ last four games against the Lions heading into their Sunday Night Football matchup. The loser will back into a wild-card berth if the Washington Redskins lose against the New York Giants, but the Giants are locked into their playoff position and have the luxury of resting key players.