Lions vs Panthers Week 16 Picks and Predictions: Detroit Keeps Clawing

Dan Campbell's team is making a hard late push for the playoffs and they have a favorable matchup on Christmas Eve in Charlotte. Find out why the value is all over Detroit in our Lions vs. Panthers betting picks.

Last Updated: Dec 24, 2022 8:15 AM ET Read Time: 4 min
Jamaal Williams Detroit Lions NFL
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The Detroit Lions try to continue their red-hot play as they take on the Carolina Panthers in Week 16 on Saturday afternoon.

The Lions have clawed back to .500 but need to take care of business down the stretch if they want to make the playoffs for the first time since 2016. NFL odds expect them to get the win on Saturday, as betting lines opened with Detroit as a 3-point road favorite with the Over/Under set at 43.5.

Here are our free NFL picks and predictions for Lions vs. Panthers on December 24.

Lions vs Panthers best odds

Lions vs Panthers picks and predictions

The Lions are red-hot and have gone 6-1 straight up and 7-0 against the spread in their last seven games. This is a team playing with confidence right now, and even when they were losing games earlier in the season, they had some very tight battles against quality teams like the Eagles, Vikings, and Dolphins. 

Meanwhile, the Panthers are a franchise that traded away their best player, installed an interim head coach, and gave Sam Darnold another shot as their starting quarterback.

To be fair, Carolina is 4-4 SU since Steve Wilks took over and has gone 3-1 ATS at home. However, they've been competitive due to a smash-mouth philosophy that might not be good enough to get it done against the Lions.

The Panthers have been running the ball effectively in their recent wins but were held to just 21 yards on 16 carries in last week's 24-16 loss to the Steelers. The Lions were one of the worst teams in the league against the run for most of the year, but they've turned that around and held the Vikings to 22 rushing yards and the Jets to 50 over the last two weeks.

The Lions' defense as a whole has shown major improvement, and while they were last in the NFL in EPA/Play through Week 8, they have ranked 13th since then. 

Detroit's offense has been efficient all season, ranking ninth in the league in EPA/Play. Its balance on that side of the ball should help them move the ball against a Carolina stop unit that struggles on third downs and in the red zone.

I'm leaning toward a hungry Lions squad with the spread still available below that key number of a field goal.

My best bet: Lions -2.5 (-110 at bet365)

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Lions vs Panthers spread analysis

After starting the season 1-6, the Lions have won six out of their last seven, with the playoffs now a very real possibility. They are coming off a 20-17 win against the Jets, where they limited them to 50 yards on 22 carries and picked off Zach Wilson twice. 

Detroit's young defense has made major strides since November, and its offense can move the ball both through the air and on the ground. Jared Goff ranks sixth in the league in QBR, and the Lions' running back duo of Jamaal Williams and D'Andre Swift have churned out yards behind a strong offensive line. 

The Lions are 11th in the NFL in third-down conversion rate. Despite going 0-for-3 in the red zone last week, they're still third in the league red zone touchdown percentage. 

The Panthers are fresh off a 24-16 home loss to the Steelers, where they were gashed for 156 yards on the ground and rushed for just 21 of their own. That snapped a short two-game winning streak where they defeated the Broncos and Seahawks on the road. 

D'onta Foreman has been up-and-down since taking over as the lead back. While Foreman has rumbled for more than 100 yards in four games, he has also been bottled up in others. A mediocre Carolina offensive line doesn't help, and neither does a pathetic passing game that has been unable to keep defenses honest.

Darnold passed for a total of just 284 yards in those two wins against Denver and Seattle, and he threw for only 225 in Week 15 versus Pittsburgh. With such an anemic aerial attack, the Panthers won't be able to take advantage of a vulnerable Lions secondary that ranks 31st in dropback EPA. 

Carolina's defense has been solid and is 12th in the league in EPA/play. That said, the Panthers are also 21st in the league in red zone defense and 30th in opponent third-down percentage.

Lions vs Panthers Over/Under analysis

With their high-octane offense and struggling defense, the Lions were one of the best Over bets in the league earlier on in the year. However, improved defensive play led to the Under 43.5 cashing against the Jets last week. 

Interestingly the total is sitting at the exact same number this week despite Carolina being slightly worse defensively and a bit better offensively than the Wilson-led Jets.

The Panthers' offense ranks just 27th in the league in EPA/play, which is bad news against a Lions defense that has allowed fewer than 20 points in four games over the last seven weeks. 

Defensive end Aidan Hutchinson has been stringing together some solid performances. Not only is he leading all rookies with seven sacks, but he has an impressive 70.5 grade against the run, according to Pro Football Focus

Wilks prefers a run-heavy style that attempts to control the clock, and Carolina has run the ball on 60% of offensive plays over the last three games. Detroit's offense also tends to rely heavily on its ground game, as Goff often prefers to throw for shorter chunk plays than attack deep. 

That could lead to another low-scoring contest for the Lions.

Lions vs Panthers betting trend to know

Detroit is 9-4 ATS in its last 13 road games, while Carolina is 4-10 ATS in its previous 14 contests at home. Find more NFL betting trends for Lions vs. Panthers.

Lions vs Panthers game info

Location: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
Date: Saturday, December 24, 2022
Kickoff: 1:00 p.m. ET
Opening odds: Panthers +3, 44 O/U

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