The NFC North is home to some of the oldest and most storied rivalries in the NFL. The Packers and Bears are the rivalry that everyone knows about, but the Lions and Packers have battled just as heavily over the years. However, it’s hard to really count this as a rivalry in recent years. Since 2006, the Packers are surprisingly dominant against the Lions, going 13-1 in their last fourteen matchups. The lone Detroit win was in 2010 when the Lions won a defensive struggle 7-3, due in large part to Aaron Rodgers suffering an early concussion, knocking him out of the game.
Now the two teams will install another chapter in their historic rivalry, and for once, the Lions are the team with the better record. Despite the Lions being 3-1, and the Packers a subpar 1-2, Green Bay is a heavy home favorite by (opened at 6.5 points). Here’s why we think the Packers will cover this spread.
The Lions have impressed, due in large part to a soft schedule.
The Lions have been one of the biggest surprises so far this season, bouncing back from a dismal 4-12 season last year with a solid 3-1 start. There is no doubting how impressive the Lions were on Sunday, dominating Chicago at home in a game where the 40-32 final score was not an accurate indication of how the game went down. However, the other two wins for the Lions were victories over Minnesota and Washington, teams with a combined record of 2-6 so far this year.
The Packers have been an enigma in the first month of the season, stumbling out of the gates to a 1-2 start. If you are sitting there thinking: that sounds familiar, it is because the Packers had the same start last year. However, Green Bay riled off six of their next seven games on their way to an 11-5 playoff record. The Packers may not have the same streak this year, but they are certainly better than their sub-.500 record would indicate.
The Green Bay Packers have dominated after their bye in recent years.
The key here for me is the bye week that Green Bay is coming off of. Like most quality football teams, the Packers are fantastic after the bye week, winning that game the last four seasons, and six of the last seven. More importantly, they were 6-0-1 ATS in those games. It should also be pointed out that last year, the Packers beat the Lions on the road 24-20 coming off of their bye week. Perhaps the most impressive part of these stats is that Green Bay was only at home for one of those seven games. With two weeks to look forward to this divisional home game, the Packers certainly won’t be lacking any motivation.
The Packers are a team that has been haunted by injuries in recent years, and they haven’t been able to shake that bug this year. Original starting Running Back Eddy Lacy and Tight End Jermichael Finley both suffered nasty concussions, while starting safety Morgan Burnett and corners Jarrett Bush and Casey Hayward are all nursing hamstring issues. This is another reason why the bye week came at a great time for Green Bay. A healthy Packers team is a dangerous team.
I don’t want to make this game sound like David vs. Goliath. The Lions are more than capable of pulling off this win. The Packers don’t really have anyone that can slow down Megatron (not that anyone really does but you get my point). The Packers are 28th against the pass, and Matt Stafford is currently heading the #5 passing offense in the league, averaging 309 yards a game. And let’s not forget that the easiest way to rattle Aaron Rodgers is to get pressure on him with the defensive line, something that Ndamukong Suh and the Lions are very good at.
Despite these facts, I still like the Packers to win this game by at least a touchdown. I think the home field, coming off the bye week, and the motivation of not wanting to go 1-3 will be the perfect recipe for a key 34-24 win for the Lions.