Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers: 2019 Week 12 NFL Pick

Green Bay Packers (8-2) at San Francisco 49ers (9-1)

This is one of the biggest regular season games of the year, with the 8-2 Packers going to San Francisco to take on the 9-1 49ers in a game that could decide the #1 seed in the NFC. Despite their similarly impressive records, the 49ers have statistically been the much better team this season, ranking 1st in first down rate differential at +8.58%, while the Packers rank 15th at +1.51%.  The Packers have had five wins by 8 points or fewer and have just a +45 point differential with a +9 turnover margin, while the 49ers have a +140 point differential with a +5 turnover margin. 

Turnover margins are unpredictable on a week-to-week basis, so it’s very notable that the 49ers have been much more impressive on the scoreboard than the Packers despite having less help from turnover margins. However, the Packers have faced a much tougher schedule, as they have faced the third toughest schedule in terms of DVOA, while the 49ers have faced the third easiest. When you adjust for schedule, the statistical gap between these two teams decreases significantly. 

The 49ers also come into this game very banged up. They’re tentatively expected to get top receiving threat George Kittle back from a two-game absence, but he’s expected to be less than 100%, as are wide receivers Emmanuel Sanders and Deebo Samuel, their second and third best pass catchers. They also remain without franchise left tackle Joe Staley, their most explosive running back Matt Breida, impressive rotational defensive end Ronald Blair, top linebacker Kwon Alexander, and starting cornerback Akhello Witherspoon, who will be joined on the sideline this week by dominant edge rusher Dee Ford. Meanwhile, the Packers are relatively healthy right now. 

As a result of all the 49ers’ injuries, the Packers actually have a pretty significant edge in my roster rankings, despite the 49ers having a significant edge in first down rate differential. The Packers are also in a much better spot, with only a trip to New York to play the Giants on deck, while the 49ers have another tough game in Baltimore. Underdogs are 71-36 ATS since 2016 before being favorites when their opponents will next be underdogs. We’re not getting a ton of line value with the Packers at +3, as I have this line calculated at San Francisco -1.5, but they’re worth a bet in a good spot.

Green Bay Packers 27 San Francisco 49ers 26 Upset Pick +135

Pick against the spread: Green Bay +3

Confidence: Medium

Carolina Panthers at Green Bay Packers: 2019 Week 10 NFL Pick

Carolina Panthers (5-3) at Green Bay Packers (7-2)

The Packers surprisingly lost to the Chargers last week, but the Chargers were healthier in that game than they’ve been all season, so it’s not a huge surprise the Packers had trouble with a team that was one of the better teams in the league a year ago. The Packers are still well positioned in the NFC at 7-2 and are still one of my top ranked teams. They also tend to do well off of a loss in the Aaron Rodgers era, going 34-21 ATS off of a loss with Rodgers under center since his first season as a starter in 2008. 

The Packers also head home this week, where they are 41-21 ATS since 2011 in games Rodgers starts and finishes. They face a Panthers team that is 5-3 and that has lost just once in 6 games since inserting backup quarterback Kyle Allen into the lineup for an injured Cam Newton, but that loss came by 38, while some of their wins have been close games that could have gone either way. On the season, they have just a +5 point differential, despite benefitting from a +6 turnover margin that ranks 5th in the NFL. Turnover margins tend to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis and the Panthers rank just 21st in the league with a -2.52% first down rate differential. That lines up with my roster rankings, which have them 18th.

I have this line calculated at Green Bay -10, giving us a ton of line value with the Packers as 5-point favorites. The line has shifted a point and a half from the early line last week as a result of the Packers’ loss, but even at -6.5 the Packers would have been an enticing bet. I like their chances of bouncing back at home a lot, against an overrated opponent, especially with a bye on deck. Home favorites of 6+ are 49-17 ATS since 2002 before a bye and, while the Packers aren’t favored by that many points, they should be, so the logic still holds. They should be focused and take care of business without any upcoming distractions. This would be my Pick of the Week if the Packers didn’t have a pair of banged up key defensive backs (Jaire Alexander and Adrian Amos), but both seem likely to play through their injuries and the Packers are otherwise healthy.

Green Bay Packers 30 Carolina Panthers 20

Pick against the spread: Green Bay -5

Confidence: High

Green Bay Packers at Los Angeles Chargers: 2019 Week 9 NFL Pick

Green Bay Packers (7-1) at Los Angeles Chargers (3-5)

The Chargers have gotten off to a disappointing 3-5 start, a year after going 12-4, but all five of their losses were decided by a touchdown or less and they are getting healthier as the season has gone on. They’ve already gotten back tight end Hunter Henry (who ranks first in the NFL in yards per game by a tight end), talented defensive end Melvin Ingram, and top offensive lineman Russell Okung, who is likely to pull a full set of snaps this week after being limited in his return last week. They rank 12th in my roster rankings and could go on a surprise run down the stretch.

Unfortunately, they are only 3.5-point home underdogs here against the Packers. Not only are the Packers one of the top teams in the league, but the Chargers have next to no homefield advantage in Los Angeles (6-12-1 ATS since moving there, as opposed to 14-6-2 ATS on the road) due to their inability to draw home fans. The Packers are one of the most popular teams in the country, so I imagine the vast majority of fans at this game will be rooting for the road team. With the Chargers lack of homefield advantage taken into account, I have this line calculated at Green Bay -4.5, so, while we’re not getting much line value with the Packers at -3.5, they seem like the right side.

Green Bay Packers 31 Los Angeles Chargers 27

Pick against the spread: Green Bay -3.5

Confidence: None

Green Bay Packers at Kansas City Chiefs: 2019 Week 8 NFL Pick

Green Bay Packers (6-1) at Kansas City Chiefs (5-2)

Chiefs fans breathed a collective sigh of relief when they found out that what looked like a potential season ending knee injury for Patrick Mahomes turned out to be relatively minor, with Mahomes even returning to practice in limited fashion this week. It sounds like Mahomes has a good shot to return next week, about two and a half calendar weeks after the initial injury, and the time off will give Mahomes an opportunity to rest the sprained ankle that was limiting him before the knee injury, but in the meantime the Chiefs will really miss their franchise quarterback in a tough home matchup with the Green Bay Packers.

Mahomes is also far from the Chiefs’ only player that is out with injury. While the Chiefs do get wide receiver Sammy Watkins back from a two-game absence, they are still without starting left tackle Eric Fisher, starting left guard Andrew Wylie, top defensive player Chris Jones, top cornerback Kendall Fuller, and add starting defensive end Frank Clark to the injured list this week. In their current state, I have the Chiefs ranked 31st in my roster rankings, only ahead of the Dolphins, and yet they are just 4-point home underdogs against the Packers.

This line is probably only at 4 because the Chiefs beat the Broncos 30-6 last week even with Mahomes getting hurt in the second quarter, but it seems to forget that the Chiefs lost at home to the Colts and Texans and almost lost to the Lions even with Mahomes before that game in Denver. Even in that game in Denver, the Chiefs barely won the first down rate battle by 2.59%, with the Broncos essentially handing the Chiefs 20 points on four plays: a fumble recovery touchdown, a busted coverage long passing touchdown, an ill-advised fake punt, and a long punt return allowed. I’m not convinced at all from that performance that the Chiefs as they currently are stand any chance against a top level team like Green Bay. I have this line calculated at Green Bay -10, so I love the value we’re getting at -4. This is my Pick of the Week.

Green Bay Packers 27 Kansas City Chiefs 16

Pick against the spread: Green Bay -4

Confidence: Pick of the Week

Oakland Raiders at Green Bay Packers: 2019 Week 7 NFL Pick

Oakland Raiders (3-2) at Green Bay Packers (5-1)

The Raiders won back-to-back games before their week 6 bye and now seem to be overrated as a result. Those wins came against a banged up Colts team and a Bears team that hasn’t been nearly as good this season as last season. Those teams rank 20th and 23rd respectively in first down rate differential and the Raiders won those games by a combined 10 points. Including a 8-point week 1 home win over the mediocre Broncos, the Raiders’ 3 wins have come by a combined 18 points this season, while their two losses to the Vikings and Chiefs came by a combined 38 points, giving them a -20 point differential that is worst among teams with a winning record. In terms of first down rate differential, they rank just 21st at -1.68%.

Despite that, they are just 4.5-point road underdogs in Green Bay, against a 5-1 Packers team that is among the best in the NFL. Their win over the Lions’ last week was controversial because of some bad calls on Detroit, but they could have still won that game even without those calls, despite gifting the Lions a trio of turnovers. Turnover margin tends to be inconsistent on a week-to-week basis and they won the first down rate battle convincingly (+9.33%) over a solid Detroit team. They failed to cover, winning by 1 as 4-point home favorites, but are still 40-21 ATS at home since 2011 in games Aaron Rodgers starts and finishes. 

The Packers have a banged up receiving corps with Davante Adams, Geronimo Allison, and possibly Marquez Valdes-Scantling set to miss this game, but wide receiver is a big concern for the Raiders as well, who are without top wide receiver Tyrell Williams and lack depth behind him at the position. The Raiders are also likely to be without right tackle Trent Brown and, with right guard Gabe Jackson likely a week away from returning after being limited in practice all week, they are likely to be without the entire right side of their offensive line. I have this line calculated at Green Bay -10 and I expect this game to be similar to the Raiders’ big losses to the Vikings and Chiefs, so we’re getting great value with Green Bay at -4.5. This is my Pick of the Week.

Green Bay Packers 27 Oakland Raiders 17

Pick against the spread: Green Bay -4.5

Confidence: Pick of the Week

Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers: 2019 Week 6 NFL Pick

Detroit Lions (2-1-1) at Green Bay Packers (4-1)

I’ve thought the Lions are an underrated team all season, as much of the focus on this team coming into the season was how much their offense struggled down the stretch last year (with key players like Kerryon Johnson and Marvin Jones out and Matt Stafford playing through a broken back) and not how well their defense played down the stretch (after the addition of Damon Harrison in a mid-season trade). With Trey Flowers added to the defensive line in free agency, the Lions looked to have a solid defense coming in 2019 and an offensive improvement was expected as well with key players returning to health. 

However, I think the public has caught on to the Lions following their near victory over the Chiefs back in week 4 before their bye, as they are only 4-point underdogs here in Lambeau, where the Packers are 40-20 ATS in games Aaron Rodgers starts and finishes. I still have the Packers as one of the top teams in the league and several spots higher than the Lions in my roster rankings, so I have this line calculated at Green Bay -6, before even taking into account the Packers’ home prowess in recent years. 

The Packers have some injury concerns, with top wide receiver Davante Adams and promising rookie starting safety Darnell Savage both out, but the Lions aren’t in great injury shape either, despite coming off of a bye, with ex-Packer defensive tackle Mike Daniels out and several other key players (defensive tackle A’Shawn Robinson, defensive tackle Da’Shawn Hand, cornerback Darius Slay, safety Quandre Diggs, and wide receiver Danny Amendola) questionable after not getting in full practices on Friday. There isn’t quite enough here to bet the Packers confidently, but they should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes and I would consider a bet if several of the Lions’ questionable players do not play.

Green Bay Packers 27 Detroit Lions 20

Pick against the spread: Green Bay -4

Confidence: Low

Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys: 2019 Week 5 NFL Pick

Green Bay Packers (3-1) at Dallas Cowboys (3-1)

On paper this looks like an exciting matchup between a pair of NFC contenders, but neither team is coming in at 100%. While the Packers will be without #1 wide receiver Davante Adams with injury, the Cowboys will be without left tackle Tyron Smith and could be without right tackle La’El Collins as well. Collins not playing would be a big blow because he’s been one of the best right tackles in the league so far this season, but if the Cowboys are only without Smith I like their injury situation a lot more than the Packers. 

Smith is a great left tackle, but the Cowboys have an experienced and capable backup behind him in Cameron Fleming and a great offensive line beside him, while the Packers completely lack proven wide receivers behind Adams. Much was made this off-season about how Aaron Rodgers doesn’t trust any of his young receivers behind Adams, who has received 29.4% of Rodgers’ non-throwaway targets over the past 2 seasons. 

Rodgers, who has overall not quite been his dominant self so far this season, could struggle on the road against a good Dallas defense, while Dak Prescott should still be sufficiently protected if Collins can suit up. Even with Collins questionable with a back injury, after only getting in one limited practice this week, I have this line calculated at Dallas -6, so assuming Collins can go I will be betting on the Cowboys tomorrow morning.

Sunday Update: Collins is expected to play, so Prescott should be sufficiently protected. He’ll also get wide receiver Michael Gallup back from a 2 game absence and the Packers will be without starting cornerback Kevin King. The Cowboys should be favored by more than a field goal and are worth a bet.

Dallas Cowboys 24 Green Bay Packers 17

Pick against the spread: Dallas -3

Confidence: Medium

Philadelphia Eagles at Green Bay Packers: 2019 Week 4 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (1-2) at Green Bay Packers (3-0)

Typically, playing on a short week benefits the home team significantly, as they don’t have to travel, which gives them more preparation time on a short week. There are a couple exceptions. The first exception is when it’s a divisional matchup, as teams tend to be much more familiar with divisional opponents than non-divisional opponents and not need as much preparation. The second exception is when the road team is better than the home team, as better teams tend to handle the short week better. 

None of those exceptions are in play this week, as the Packers are favored here at home against an Eagles team who they haven’t played since 2016. Non-divisional home favorites are 35-15 ATS all-time on Thursday Night Football (excluding week 1), so the Packers should have a good chance to cover this spread. They’ve also been a dominant home team with Aaron Rodgers under center over the past decade or so, going 40-19 ATS at home in games Aaron Rodgers has started and finished since 2011. 

Unfortunately, we’re not getting any line value with the Packers, with this line shifting from Green Bay -3 on the early line last week to now Green Bay -5 this week. The line moved because the Eagles lost at home to the Lions, but the Lions are an underrated team who can be a legitimate playoff contender in the NFC and the Eagles actually won the first down rate battle in that game by 6.23%. 

Now the Eagles seem to be underrated. I’ve liked the Packers since the off-season and I think they’re one of the top few teams in the league, but I still have this line calculated at only Green Bay -4. The homefield advantage on a short week should help them significantly, but it wouldn’t surprise me if this ended up being a really close game, so I’m probably not going to bet on Green Bay at -5. I may reconsider tomorrow. I am also locking in a couple picks I love this week before the lines move. One of those games is likely to be my Pick of the Week.

CLE +7 @ BAL

DET +7 vs. KC

Final Update: Za’Darius Smith is questionable after suffering a hamstring injury in practice on Tuesday. He’s expected to play, but could be limited. The free agent acquisition been one of the best edge defenders in the league thus far this season and he’s been a big part of why the Packers have been so good defensively this year, so it would definitely hurt the Packers if he couldn’t play at full strength. I’m going to leave this as a low confidence pick, even though the Packers are in a great spot.

Green Bay Packers 24 Philadelphia Eagles 17

Pick against the spread: Green Bay -5

Confidence: Low

Denver Broncos at Green Bay Packers: 2019 Week 3 NFL Pick

Denver Broncos (0-2) at Green Bay Packers (2-0)

The Packers have started the season 2-0, beating a pair of fellow playoff contenders in their division in the Bears and Vikings, and, perhaps most impressively, they’ve done it without getting a great performance from their offense. While their defense ranks 2nd in the league in first down rate allowed through two weeks at 26.61%, their offense ranks just 29th at 29.37%. You have to figure this offense isn’t going to be this bad all season and it’s great to see their revamped defense get off to such a great start. 

With the Saints losing Drew Brees to injury and the Eagles suffering several key losses as well, the Packers now rank 2nd in my roster rankings behind the Patriots, so we’re getting good line value with them as only 7-point favorites at home against a mediocre Broncos team. I have this line calculated at Green Bay -11 and that’s even before taking into account that the Packers are 39-19 ATS at home in games Aaron Rodgers has started and finished since 2011. 

This would be a bigger play if the Packers didn’t have to play again in 4 days. Favorites are 55-76 ATS since 2012 before Thursday Night Football and the Packers have a particularly important game on deck against the Eagles, so they might not play their best game this week. Even still, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them win by multiple scores at home against by far the easiest opponent they’ve faced this season and there’s too much value with the Packers to not place a bet on them at home.

Green Bay Packers 23 Denver Broncos 13

Pick against the spread: Green Bay -7

Confidence: Medium

Minnesota Vikings at Green Bay Packers: 2019 Week 2 NFL Pick

Minnesota Vikings (1-0) at Green Bay Packers (1-0)

Both of these teams missed the playoffs last season despite high expectations and both of these teams looked improved in week 1 over last season. The odds makers seem to think these two teams are about even, favoring the Packers at home by a field goal. I think this spread is off though, as I have higher expectations for the Packers. Both teams won week 1, but the Packers’ win came on the road in Chicago, while the Vikings’ win came at home against the Falcons. The Vikings had a higher margin of victory, but that game swung on a few plays, with the Vikings winning the turnover margin by 4. Turnover margin tends to be highly inconsistent week-to-week, so they won’t necessarily be able to rely on that again this week. 

Week 1 aside, I also had higher expectations for the Packers coming into the season, with an improved defense and a healthier Aaron Rodgers. The Vikings should be better on offense this season with a better offensive line and a more balanced game plan, but their defense has several key players over 30 and likely won’t be as good as they’ve been in recent years. Aside from their takeaways, their defense struggled to stop the Falcons from moving up and down the field week 1, allowing a 43.28% first down rate and only winning the first down rate battle by 1.61%. The Packers’ offense didn’t look great week 1, but that was on the road in Chicago, who still has arguably the best defense in the NFL. They’re the more talented team in this matchup and should be favored by more than a field goal. I’m going to keep this at a medium confidence bet until we get clarification on David Bahktiari’s status, but even if he does end up sitting the Packers still have a good shot in this game. 

Update: Bahktiari is expected to play and yet this line has dropped to 2.5, so I’m moving this up to high confidence. I have this line calculated at Green Bay -7, so we’re getting significant line value with the Packers. If I was confident Bahktiari was 100%, this would be my Pick of the Week.

Green Bay Packers 24 Minnesota Vikings 17

Pick against the spread: Green Bay -2.5

Confidence: High