Detroit Lions (1-1) at Green Bay Packers (1-1)
I’ve seen a couple articles this week asking what’s wrong with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. That doesn’t make sense to me. The Packers opened their season with two road games and played pretty well in both games all things considering, beating a capable Jacksonville team week 1 and then barely losing last week against a good Minnesota team. Despite splitting the two games, they actually moved the chains better than their opponents in both games and only lost in Minnesota because of a +2 turnover margin.
Turnover margin tends to be very inconsistent week-to-week and the Packers tend be better at winning the turnover battle than most, so I don’t see that as a long-term problem. They’re unlikely to be as good offensively as they were in 2014, when they finished 1st in rate of moving the chains (RMC), but they figure to finish significantly better than last season, when they finished 16th in that statistic, especially as Jordy Nelson gets back into game shape after missing all of last season with a torn ACL and especially as more home games come up on the schedule.
Now back at home, they have a very good chance to get back on track. They went just 4-4 ATS at home last season, but went 36-23 ATS in Lambeau from 2008 to 2014. Even if they don’t recapture that old home magic, it definitely helps that they’re going into a bye. Big favorites tend to take care of business going into a bye, as home favorites of 6 or more are 61-22 ATS before a bye since 2002. Their offense especially has a good chance to get back on track this week, as Detroit is missing two of their top three defensive players, linebacker DeAndre Levy and defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, with injury. That leaves their defense very vulnerable. This is the easiest matchup the Packers have had thus far. Jacksonville’s defense wasn’t good, but that was a road game and the Packers still moved the chains at a respectable 75.00% rate.
As long as this line is 7 or fewer, this is a money play, though I’d be more hesitant at 7.5, as Detroit has a strong offense and I’d be worried about Detroit driving down the field down two touchdowns late for the backdoor cover, especially with the Packers missing some guys on defense as well (though not anyone as important as Ansah or Levy). The backdoor cover possibility also scares me off of making this my Pick of the Week, as does the fact that the Packers are playing a week 3 home opener, which historically doesn’t go well. Teams are just 24-46 ATS in a week 3 home opener since 1989. The Packers have had to travel a lot already and that could give the Lions an advantage, but their upcoming bye should keep them focused on this week and I like their chances of putting up a big number on Detroit’s injury plagued defense.
Green Bay Packers 31 Detroit Lions 20
Pick against the spread: Green Bay -7