Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions (+10.5, 47.5)
The Lions host their annual Thanksgiving game, this year against the Green Bay Packers.
The Lions (2-8, 2-7-1 ATS) are coming off a thrilling 38-37 win over the Cleveland Browns. Quarterback Matthew Stafford hit Brandon Pettigrew for a one-yard touchdown on the last play of the game for the victory. But Stafford isn’t expected to play this week because of a shoulder injury and star receiver Calvin Johnson is questionable with a variety of ailments.
Green Bay (6-4 SU, 5-4-1 ATS) is battling for an NFC Wild Card spot. With the Minnesota Vikings entrenched atop the NFC North, the Packers’ best chance to make it to the postseason is via the wild card. This is one of the easiest games left on Green Bay’s schedule.
Protection makes perfect
Give Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers time and he can be one of the top players in the NFL. He’s the fourth-ranked quarterback in the league, but has been sacked five times in the past two weeks while leading Green Bay to victories over Dallas and San Francisco.
The previous two weeks, Rodgers was sacked 15 times in total and the Packers lost both games, first to Minnesota and then to Tampa Bay. At that point in the season, the Packers were on pace for 74 sacks, which would be 12 more than the franchise's worst single-season mark.
Following the loss to Tampa, Packers coach Mike McCarthy said, “It has to stop. You can’t sit here and keep taking sacks.”
It appears his team got the message. Detroit is 24th in the league with 18 total sacks this season.
Rodgers has thrown for 2,788 yards this season, fifth-best in the league. Detroit has allowed 2,753 yards through the air this season, the worst in the NFL.
The Lions will take wins any way they can get them after picking up just two victories in their last 34 games. However, Sunday’s last-second victory over the Browns came with the serious price.
Stafford suffered a shoulder injury on the second-to-last play of the game. The rookie out of Georgia, who had thrown for a career-best 422 yards, was able to play the final snap and throw a touchdown pass but he hasn’t practiced this week and all signs point to him not playing.
Daunte Culpepper will play in Stafford’s absence. Calvin Johnson, the Lions’ top receiver with 597 yards, is also questionable with hand and knee injuries.
The Packers lost defensive starters Aaron Kampman and Al Harris to knee injuries in their win over San Francisco. Both players are past their prime but were still important starters.
Tramon Williams will replace Harris and Jarrett Bush will move into the No. 3 role.
A week after he was benched for running the wrong way on a screen pass, Lions rookie running back Aaron Brown returned to the lineup and had a 46-yard kickoff return and a 26-yard TD reception.
“We haven’t been getting production out of Aaron’s role and we needed to do something about it,” said coach Jim Schwartz following Brown’s benching.
After his successful return to the lineup, Brown said, “I think I’m a much better athlete and a much better team player than I was a couple weeks ago.”
The Lions have lost five straight on Thanksgiving, all by double digits, including last season’s 47-7 loss to Tennessee.
Green Bay is the best team in the NFL in turnover margin at +14 number. Detroit is third from the bottom with a -9.
With Stafford out, as well as Johnson's questionable status, the line has moved up at most shops from 10 or 10.5 to 11.
- Green Bay has won the last eight games SU between the teams.
- Green Bay is 6-1 ATS in the last seven games between the teams,
- Green Bay is 0-4 in its last four games as a road favorite of 10.5 or greater.
- Detroit is 4-1 in its last five games as a home underdog of 10.5 or greater.
- The over is 4-0-1 in the Packers’ last five games on fireldturf.
- The over is 6-0 in the Lions’ last six games following a SU win.