Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions
Line: Green Bay -5
Where: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin
When: Sunday, 1/8 at 8:20 p.m. ET
Green Bay was once relying on other teams to get back into the NFC playoff race, but that is no longer the case.
The scenario is simple for the Packers heading into their game against Detroit on Sunday night—win and they’re in. It’s a little more complicated for the Lions, who need the Rams to beat Seattle earlier in the day to stay alive heading into this primetime affair. If the Seahawks beat the Rams, this contest would become theoretically meaningless to the Lions.
“There’s other things on the line as far as having a winning season and beating a division opponent that I feel like really doesn’t respect us much at all,” Detroit cornerback Amani Oruwariye said. “There’s a lot of other motivating factors. It’s been one-sided for a long time, but this year we flipped the script. Everyone can kind of see that.”
Detroit took down Green Bay in a 15-9 final in Week 9, which was when the Packers were amid a stretch of seven losses in eight games. They have since won four straight games to give themselves a shot at clinching the final playoff berth on Sunday night.
Some oddsmakers opened Green Bay as a 3.5-point favorite, but that spread has moved to -5 as of Friday afternoon. Sunday night’s total opened at 49, which is where it remains at the time of writing.
The Packers are coming off arguably their strongest outing of the season, blowing out Minnesota in a 41-17 final in Week 17. They picked off Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins three times and forced a fumble in what was their fourth win in a row.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers had a rough showing against Detroit in the first meeting this season, throwing three interceptions to match a career high. The 39-year-old could potentially be getting set for his final career start against the Lions, who he is 18-7 against all-time. This could also be his final game at Lambeau Field.
“I’ve got a lot of great memories here at Lambeau and hopefully can add another one on Sunday,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers has been getting plenty of help from his defense during the four-game winning streak, as the Packers have forced 12 turnovers during that stretch, matching their total from the first 12 games this season. They are facing Detroit quarterback Jared Goff, who has not thrown an interception in his last eight games.
In fact, the last player to intercept a Goff pass was Green Bay’s Jaire Alexander. Goff threw three touchdowns in a blowout win over Chicago last week, helping keep his team’s playoff hopes alive.
“He’s been in some, as we know, huge games,” Lions head coach Dan Campbell said. “He’s been in the big one (Super Bowl), so this won’t be anything new to him. I think it does help, especially in that position.”
Detroit running back Jamaal Williams spent his first four NFL seasons with the Packers, but he has an NFL-leading 15 touchdown runs in his second season with the Lions. He had 22 carries for 144 yards and a touchdown against Chicago last week, while D’Andre Swift had 11 attempts for 78 yards and a touchdown.
The Lions come into this week with the fifth-ranked scoring offense in the league, but their defense is No. 32. This has led to them going ‘over’ the total in 12 of their last 18 games, while Green Bay has gone ‘over’ in five of its last seven games. Detroit has covered the spread in eight of its last nine games, and it has gone 9-2 ATS in its last 11 games against the Packers.
The pick: Detroit +5
I understand being concerned about backing the Lions without knowing if they are still going to be alive for a playoff spot when this game kicks off, but it’s not a huge concern of mine. The worst-case scenario is that they are playing for their first winning season since 2017 and a chance to knock their division rival out of the playoff chase. Green Bay is going to be dealing with an immense amount of pressure on Sunday night, especially with the uncertainty surrounding Rodgers’ future. Detroit has already knocked off the Packers once this season and should be the looser team, regardless of the scenario. The Packers are still not an explosive offensive team either, so I don’t want to lay anything more than a field goal with them, especially against one of the league’s top scoring squads.