Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions: 2017 Week 17 NFL Pick

Green Bay Packers (7-8) at Detroit Lions (8-7)

The Packers’ season was derailed by an injury to Aaron Rodgers earlier in the season, but that’s not the only injury they are dealing with now. The Packers will also be without wide receivers Davante Adams and Jordy Nelson, outside linebacker Nick Perry, right guard Jahri Evans, and possibly outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who was missed last week’s game against the Vikings and was limited all week in practice. Given everyone that they are missing, they are currently one of the worst teams in the entire league.

The Lions, meanwhile, get right tackle Ricky Wagner and right guard TJ Lang back this week, after both missed last week’s loss in Cincinnati. That being said, I can’t be too confident in the Lions as 7-point favorites, as they really haven’t had that many blowout wins over the past couple years. Just 6 of their 17 wins over the past 2 seasons have come by more than a touchdown, which is particularly relevant given where this line is. They’ve also been worse than their record has suggested in general, finishing last year with a -1.90% first down rate differential despite a 9-7 record and having a -4.25% first down rate differential this season despite a 8-7 record. They still have a good chance to cover this line against a terrible opponent, but I wouldn’t recommend betting on it.

Detroit Lions 27 Green Bay Packers 17

Pick against the spread: Detroit -7

Confidence: Low

Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers: 2017 Week 16 NFL Pick

Minnesota Vikings (11-3) at Green Bay Packers (7-7)

The Packers squeaked out overtime victories over a pair of bad teams, the Buccaneers and Browns, to stay alive in the playoff race with Aaron Rodgers returning to action week 15. Unfortunately for the Packers, the schedule got tougher and Rodgers was not 100% in his return, as the Packers fell to the Panthers 31-24, ending their playoff hopes. Now with the season essentially over, the Packers have shut down Rodgers for the season and will turn back to backup Brett Hundley for the final 2 games of the season.

Rodgers isn’t the only one that is going to be missing from action in this one, as wide receiver Davante Adams is out with a concussion, while outside linebackers Nick Perry and Clay Matthews and right guard Jahri Evans are likely out after missing practice all week. The Vikings, meanwhile, have no notable injuries and have their offensive line back together healthy for the first time since week 8, with left tackle Riley Reiff, right tackle Mike Remmers, and center Pat Elflein all healthy after missing time in recent weeks.

Unfortunately, this line has swung 12 points since Minnesota was 3-point underdogs on the early line last week, so we’ve lost all line value with the Vikings. Even with all of the injuries, I have this line calculated at Minnesota -6.5. It’s a shame because I love the spot the Vikings are in. The Packers’ season is over and they have another tough divisional game next week in Detroit. The Vikings, meanwhile, need every win they can get as they compete for the #1 seed in the NFC and have another easy divisional game on deck, with the Bears coming to town.

Favorites of 6+ are 72-43 ATS since 2014 before being favorites of 6+ again, while underdogs of 6+ are 39-60 ATS over that same time period before being underdogs of 6+ again. Combining the two, favorites of 6+ are 23-7 ATS since 2014 before being favorites of 6+ again, when their opponent will next be underdogs of 6+ again. Superior teams tend to take care of business with another easy game on deck, especially if their inferior opponent has another tough game on deck to potentially be a distraction. I wish we were getting a better line, but the Vikings should be the right choice for pick ‘em pool purposes.

Minnesota Vikings 24 Green Bay Packers 13

Pick against the spread: Minnesota -9

Confidence: Low

Green Bay Packers at Carolina Panthers: 2017 Week 15 NFL Pick

Green Bay Packers (7-6) at Carolina Panthers (9-4)

When the Packers lost Aaron Rodgers to a broken collarbone in week 6, many assumed it was the end for the Packers. They were still 4-2 after losing to the Vikings in the game Rodgers went down, but it was unknown if Aaron Rodgers would return at all this season and backup quarterback Brett Hundley was not going to lead this team to the Super Bowl like Rodgers could have. Even making the playoffs seemed like an uphill battle at that point.

Fast forward to the present in week 15 and Rodgers is able to return to action after missing the minimum 8 weeks and, despite playing in a tough NFC, the Packers are still alive in the playoff race at 7-6. Hundley certainly did not play great in Rodgers’ absence, but he played well enough to sneak out 3 wins against a weak bunch, the Bears, the Buccaneers, and the Browns. The latter two victories both came in overtime in the past 2 weeks, as the Packers have held onto their playoff hopes by a thread. If the Packers can win out and finish 10-6, they’ll be right in the mix for one of the two wild card spots in the NFC.

Even with Rodgers back though, that’s going to be easier said than done. While the Packers’ schedule was relatively easy during Rodgers’ absence, their schedule is arguably the hardest in the NFL to close out the season, as they face a trio of teams with better than .500 records, the Panthers, the Vikings, and the Lions. The good news is their first opponent, the Carolina Panthers, are in a bad spot this week. They are coming off of an emotional home victory over the Minnesota Vikings last week, winning 31-24 in upset fashion, and they could struggle to maintain that kind of intensity two weeks in a row. Teams understandably only cover at a 45% rate after a win as home underdogs.

The Panthers will also be missing talented right guard Trai Turner in this one with a concussion, which will be a big blow to this offense. The Panthers are a little bit overrated right now too, as they aren’t quite as good as their 9-4 record. They are 6-1 in games decided by 8 points or fewer and could easily be 7-6 or so right now had a few things not gone their way. I have the Packers as the significantly better team in this one and I love getting a full field goal with the better team in the better spot. This is a high confidence pick at +3 and I like the money line at +125 as well, as this game is no worse than a 50/50 toss up for the Packers.

Green Bay Packers 26 Carolina Panthers 24 Upset Pick +125

Pick against the spread: Green Bay +3

Confidence: High

Green Bay Packers at Cleveland Browns: 2017 Week 14 NFL Pick

Green Bay Packers (6-6) at Cleveland Browns (0-12)

Typically, it is not a good idea to bet on teams who will be big home underdogs in their next game, as teams tend to struggle before a big home game, going 39-67 ATS since 2014 before being 4.5+ point home underdogs. The early line has the Browns as 6.5 point home underdogs against the Ravens next week. However, the Browns are in desperation mode at 0-12, so I’m not sure if that trend really applies. On the other side, the Packers may see this as an easy win before they get Aaron Rodgers back for the playoff push next week and may not give their best effort as a result.

Even if they do give good effort, I’m not convinced this will be an easy win for the Packers. Brett Hundley is legitimately one of the worst quarterbacks to start for an extended period of time this season. The Packers covered in a near victory as 14-point underdogs in Pittsburgh two weeks ago and beat the Buccaneers last week, but they lost the first down battle 28-15 against the Steelers and 25-16 against the Buccaneers, a mediocre team that they needed overtime to beat at home. In 7 games with Hundley under center, the Packers have won the first down rate battle just once, on the road, in Chicago, which isn’t that impressive.

On the season, the Packers rank just 18th in first down rate differential at -0.61%, despite having Rodgers for the first 5 games of the season. Part of that is because of injuries on defense, but they remain banged up on that side of the field in this one, with starting cornerbacks Kevin King and Davon House out and outside linebacker Nick Perry questionable after missing practice all week. That’s actually only 5 spots ahead of the Browns, who rank 23rd at -2.35%.

The Browns obviously haven’t won any games, but their defense hasn’t been bad and their offense has been putting together some drives. The issue for them has been turnovers as they rank dead last in turnover margin at -19. Turnover margin tends to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis, but it hasn’t been for the Browns because they’ve been at a significant disadvantage quarterback wise in every game they’ve played. This week they won’t be, so they could easily play turnover neutral football and pull the upset, especially given how good recently reinstated wide receiver Josh Gordon looked in his debut last week. Even if they don’t win their first game of the season this week, I like their chances of covering this 3.5 point spread, given that 25% of games are decided by a field goal or less.

Cleveland Browns 20 Green Bay Packers 19 Upset Pick +150

Pick against the spread: Cleveland +3.5

Confidence: High

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Green Bay Packers: 2017 Week 13 NFL Pick

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7) at Green Bay Packers (5-6)

The Buccaneers get Jameis Winston back from a 3-game absence with a shoulder injury this week, but that’s about the only good news for them in terms of injuries. Center Ali Marpet and right tackle DeMar Dotson were both placed on injured reserve this week and they are by far their two best offensive linemen. Left guard Evan Smith returns from a one-game absence, but he hardly replaces Marpet and Dotson. Starting running back Doug Martin will be out as well, so, while Winston has a good receiving corps to work with in his return, he doesn’t have a good offensive line or running game, so they may struggle to set up big plays downfield. Winston also might not be at 100% because his injury is to his throwing shoulder. He wasn’t playing that well prior to being shut down.

On defense, they are without starting cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (3rd missed game), rotational safety TJ Ward (3rd missed game), rotational defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (1st missed game), and their top-3 defensive ends Robert Ayers (2nd missed game), William Gholston (3rd missed game), and Noah Spence (6th missed game). The Ayers injury is the biggest one, as he is by far their best defensive end. They couldn’t stop anything against the Falcons last week in his first missed game. The Buccaneers allowed the Falcons to pick up first downs at a 42.19% rate last week and now they’re missing McDonald and Ward too. With all of their injury issues, the Buccaneers rank 26th in my roster rankings, even with Winston returning.

The Packers are still missing quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but they rank 21st in my roster rankings and are getting healthier on defense. Outside linebacker Clay Matthews, outside linebacker Nick Perry, defensive tackle Kenny Clark, safety Morgan Burnett, and defensive end Mike Daniels are arguably their 5 best defensive players. They’ve played together in the same game just 4 times this season and just once since week 5. All 5 are healthy this week, so they could easily have their best defensive performance in weeks. I have this line calculated at -4, so we’re getting some line value with the Packers. It’s not enough for me to bet on Brett Hundley confidently, but the Packers should be victorious here at home against a banged up Tampa Bay team.

Green Bay Packers 20 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16

Pick against the spread: Green Bay -2.5

Confidence: Low

Green Bay Packers at Pittsburgh Steelers: 2017 Week 12 NFL Pick

Green Bay Packers (5-5) at Pittsburgh Steelers (8-2)

The Packers are obviously not the same team with backup quarterback Brett Hundley under center instead of Aaron Rodgers, as that’s about as big of a dropoff from starting quarterback to backup quarterback in the NFL. That’s not the only injury the Packers are dealing with though. They remain without their top-2 running backs Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga is out for the year. On defense, Morgan Burnett will miss his 5th game of the season this week and stud nose tackle Kenny Clark and talented edge rusher Clay Matthews will join him on the sideline this week for the first time this season. Given their injury situation, they are one of the least talented teams in the league.

The Steelers are not at full strength either, so they won’t be able to fully take advantage of the Packers’ injury situation. Top cornerback Joe Haden remains out. Right tackle Marcus Gilbert was just suspended for the next 4 games. And talented rookie wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster will miss this game with a hamstring injury. They should still win this game pretty easily, but this line is pretty high at -14. The Steelers are still my pick because they have an easy trip to Cincinnati on deck. Big favorites tend to take care of business before being big favorites again, as favorites of 7+ are 66-42 ATS before being favorites of 7+ again the following week. This is my lowest confidence pick of the week though.

Pittsburgh Steelers 27 Green Bay Packers 13

Pick against the spread: Pittsburgh -14

Confidence: None

Houston Texans at Baltimore Ravens: 2017 Week 12 NFL Pick

Houston Texans (4-6) at Baltimore Ravens (5-5)

After last week’s 23-0 win over the Brett Hundley led Packers in Green Bay, the Ravens have remarkably posted 3 shutouts this season in just 10 games. In fact, outside of that weird London game against the Jaguars where they didn’t have stud defensive tackle Brandon Williams, the Ravens have been statistically as good as any team in the league this season on defense. They’ve benefitted from an easy schedule of offenses, with their shutouts coming against the Bengals, Dolphins, and Packers, but that schedule doesn’t get any harder this week with the Houston Texans coming to town.

Without quarterback Deshaun Watson and wide receiver Will Fuller, the Texans offense is as bad as any offense in the league, while their defense isn’t much better without JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus. The Ravens have offensive issues as well, but they are as healthy as they’ve been in weeks on offense, with passing down back Danny Woodhead and left tackle Ronnie Stanley back to 100% and wide receivers Jeremy Maclin and Mike Wallace rounding into form on the outside after early season injuries. They don’t nearly have the problems that the Texans do with immobile Tom Savage behind the league’s worst offensive line.

I have this line calculated at -10, so we’re getting significant line value with the Ravens at -7. The Texans are also in a tough spot with another tough game in Tennessee on deck after this one. Underdogs of 6+ are 56-93 ATS since 2012 before being underdogs of 6+ again, which the Texans likely will be next week (they are -7 on the early line). The Ravens are worth a bet at 7 and would become a high confidence pick if this line were to move to 6.5 before game time, as about 10% of games are decided by exactly a touchdown. They should win this game by double digits.

Baltimore Ravens 17 Houston Texans 6

Pick against the spread: Baltimore -7

Confidence: Medium