The last weekend of the NFL regular season is here, and with it comes a lot of scoreboard-watching for teams to figure out what their playoff destiny looks like. Two teams with the entire day to scoreboard watch will be the Lions and Packers, whose game got flexed to Sunday Night Football. We’ll preview the exciting NFC North match-up before reviewing who I’ll be backing.
The Green Bay Packers control their own destiny this weekend and can punch their ticket to the playoffs with a win. Green Bay has had some rough patches this season that left most NFL followers questioning if this team had what it takes to make it to the postseason, but over the last four weeks, both sides of the ball stepped up and led the Packers to win four straight games.
Offensively the Packers have managed to score 24 or more points in five straight weeks and look like a completely different unit from the last time these two teams played each other. Green Bay now ranks 14th in the league in points per game and is now ranked 13th in the league in average rushing yards per game.
The Packers' backfield managed to rush for 163 yards last weekend against the Vikings and have a good chance to continue that success this weekend against a Lions defense that allows the third most rushing yards per game this season. Detroit’s defense has had quite the up-and-down season and would probably be in a better position if not for multiple defensive lapses this season.
Detroit’s impressive scoring offense has masked some of the defensive problems this team has faced, but their recent defensive breakdown against the Panthers made their path to the playoffs more complicated than it needed to be. On the offensive end, the Lions' offense has been an even better-rushing team than the Packers. Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift have led the Lions to be ranked 11th in the league in rushing yards per game.
However, the most exciting matchup in this game will be between Jared Goff and the passing game against the Packers’ passing defense that has forced six interceptions in the last two weeks combined.
Detroit is listed as +4.5 point underdogs, and I’ll take them as my best play. The Lions have been covering machines recently, especially against the NFC North. Entering this weekend, the Lions are 9-1 ATS in their last ten games and 12-2 in their last 14 divisional games. The Lions have also gone 9-2 ATS in the past 11 meetings between these two teams.
This is a good number for the Lions, as they have the offensive ability to put points on the board. The Lions average the least amount of turnovers per game in the NFL and have a solid offensive game plan to expose the Packers' defensive weaknesses. Green Bay ranks 26th in the league in rushing yards allowed per game, and opponents are averaging five yards per carry this season against them as well.
On the defensive end, the Lions were the last team to hold the Packers' offense to single digits. Although I’m not expecting them to have the exact same success, I still think Aidan Hutchinson and his 7.5 sacks this season, along with the rest of the defensive line, can force enough pressure to bother Aaron Rodgers and keep the game close.
Detroit Lions (+4.5)