Last updated December 22nd, 2013
With the lead in the NFC North, the (3-1) Detroit Lions travel to Lambeau Field to face the (1-2) Green Bay Packers, third in the division (1pm ET, Sunday).
Fortunately for the Packers, who have suffered two disheartening losses this season, Lambeau is a place that has not been kind to the Lions. In fact, Detroit is currently in the midst of a 22-game losing streak in Wisconsin. Because of that and despite the records, the Packers are a whopping 7.5-point favorites.
Green Bay Packers Formula for Success: Post Bye Week at Lambeau Field
In addition to having to face one of the most prolific scoring teams in the NFL, the Lions have a mountain to climb when it comes to the history that is clearly not on their side.
The Packers have actually won 21 of their last 22 games at home including each of their last eight. And during that eight-game home winning streak, the Packers have outscored their opponents by over 100 total points and also have a plus-five turnover ratio. Both offensively and defensively, the Packers have been a much better home team and as a result, have made Lambeau one of the toughest places for an opponent to play.
In addition, in the Mike McCarthy-era, which started in 2006, the Packers are 6-1 in contests occurring after their bye week. During that time, the Packers have also outscored their opponents by 79 points which included a 26-0 win over the Lions.
The Air Attack: Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford
Aaron Rodgers of the Packers and Matthew Stafford of the Lions, are two of the best QBs when it comes to airing out the ball. In fact, on the 2013 season, the Lions and Packers are two of just three total teams that average over 400 total yards of offense and 30 points.
On the year, Rodgers is actually having a down year based on his own career numbers, despite it being one of the best statistical outputs in the league. The 29-year-old former first round pick has a QB rating of 105.1 (3rd in NFL), has completed 66.4% of his passes (6th in NFL) has thrown for 1,057 yards in just three games and has eight touchdowns (4th in NFL) and just three interceptions as well.
Part of the reason why Rodgers has once again been able to put up such an impressive completion percentage is because of his sure-handed receivers.
Third year receiver and speedster Randall Cobb, is leading the way for the Packers. He leads the team with 21 receptions and 290 yards. He has also contributed two touchdowns. Jordy Nelson, in his sixth year, is just one yard behind Cobb for team-high. He also adds 18 receptions and leads the team with three touchdowns. Completing the trifecta of Green Bay’s 200-yard receivers is James Jones, who has caught 15 passes for 212 yards and one TD.
The 25-year-old Stafford has been nearly as prolific based on a per game average and even better based on season totals. Stafford has a rating of 96.2 (8th in NFL), has thrown for 1,262 yards (4th in NFL) and has seven touchdowns (9th in NFL) and also just three interceptions.
Leading the charge for the Lions of course, is the 6’5, 236lb receiver out of Georgia Tech, Calvin Johnson. The record-breaking WR has caught 21 passes this year for a total of 312 yards and four touchdowns, which is already three more TDs than he had in the first four weeks of last season.
Johnson has been the guy for Stafford this year as he needs to be. The combination of the two of them has been a big part of the reason as to why the Lions are 3-1. The Detroit defense is ranked just 22nd in opponents passing yards and 20th in opponents rushing yards. The Lions also are outscoring opponents by just 21 total points in four games this season. Having Johnson has really helped in those late game situations that have just gone in Detroit’s way this season.
Detroit is the fifth ranked passing offense and Green Bay is the third. It is going to be a shootout and the over/under shows that. At 53.5 total points, the spread is the second highest total of the week. Only Denver/Dallas at 56.5pts is higher.
Return of the Running Game
After a season of lackluster running backs, both Green Bay and Detroit have turned it around for 2013. The Packers, behind the rotating backfield of Eddie Lacy, Jonathan Franklin and James Starks, have put together the league’s ninth best running game. The Lions, behind a resurgent Reggie Bush, are only 21st in the league in rushing, but even that displays a return to a once-lost running game.
For both Rodgers and Stafford, the threat of the rushing attack has only enabled them to strengthen the passing game that much more. Even though the Lions are only ranked bottom 10 in the league, Bush’s 254 total yards is an average of 84.7 per game. This mark is 6th in the NFL in RUSH YPG.
It is good news for the Packers too because their main back, Lacy, is returning from a concussion he suffered in week one. In Lacy’s absence, Green Bay was able to run their back-ups, both of which put in 100-yard games. This backfield could develop into a timeshare which can only benefit the Packers going forward.
Lions at Packers Betting Picks Verdict
The Packers come into this contest favored by 7.5 points which might seem like a lofty total considered Green Bay has just one win. But the home success does not lie. The Packers have won 21 of their last 22 at Lambeau and have won each of their last 22 at home against the Lions. Obviously that streak will have to end at some point, but not this week.
The Lions have played close games all season though, losing just one by more than nine points and that is only just above where the spread currently sits.
- Take the Packers straight up to get the win but my betting advice is to take the Lions +7.5pts to best the spread @ odds of -110 with BetOnline (it is +7pts @ -105 with Bovada).
- And of course, on the total points for the game, the safest play is the over 53.5pts at -110 odds with BetOnline (it is over 54 for the same odds with Bovada).
RESULT UPDATE: Packers won 22-9.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.