With the NFC North title clinched, the Green Bay Packers will try to secure a first-round playoff by and perhaps even home-field advantage when they visit the Detroit Lions in Week 17. Game time is set for 1:00 EST on Sunday, December 29 at Ford Field in Detroit. Fans in local markets can watch the game on Fox.
Early betting odds have the Packers favored by 13 points on the road with an over/under of 43 points. Click here to check out all of this week’s NFL betting odds.
The Packers head into Week 17 fresh off an impressive road win over the Vikings Monday night that secured the NFC North title. Despite three turnovers in the first half that held them back, Green Bay dominated the game statistically, nearly tripling the Vikings in total yards while giving up just seven first downs. Green Bay has now won four games in a row heading down the stretch and sits at 12-3 heading into the final week of the season.
More importantly, the Packers can clinch a first-round playoff bye with a win or a loss by the Saints in Week 17. They can also earn home-field advantage throughout the playoffs if they win and the 49ers lose Sunday night. That leaves them with a lot to play for during the final week of the season.
On the other side, the Lions will be glad to have the 2019 season come to an end. After going undefeated through the first three weeks of the season, things went downhill fast for the Lions who have just one win since Week 3. If they don’t get a win in Week 17, Detroit will finish the year on a 9-game losing streak.
In their defense, the Lions spent the second half of the season without Matthew Stafford at quarterback. Detroit wasn’t exactly playoff-bound before Stafford was sidelined with a back issue, but he was putting up solid numbers through the first eight games while backups Jeff Driskel and David Blough haven’t been good enough. Appropriately, the Lions are cutting head coach Matt Patricia some slack by inviting him back for next season. However, his job will be in jeopardy in 2020 if the Lions aren’t a playoff contender.
While it won’t mean anything in the standings, the Lions would love to snap their losing streak in Week 17, especially against the rival Packers. Detroit swept the season series in each of the past two seasons but failed to hold a lead when they visited Green Bay in October, losing 23-22 on a last-second field goal. On the bright side, the Lions have held serve at home against the Packers in four of the last six seasons, so Ford Field hasn’t been all that friendly to the Pack.
On paper, this feels like it should be an easy win for Green Bay. But I don’t feel all that comfortable laying down the points in this game. Only two of Detroit’s 11 losses have come by more than 10 points, so they usually find ways to hang around. Also, keep in mind that the Packers played a Monday night road game and are back on the road with one less day to prepare this week. Green Bay also hasn’t had too many lopsided wins this year. In the end, I’ll give the Lions the benefit of the doubt at home and take them to beat the 13-point spread.
Offensively, the Packers have been a little inconsistent this year, which makes them hard to trust as 13-point favorites. Monday’s game wasn’t the first time they’ve had trouble with turnovers. Green Bay has also managed to score more than 24 points just once in their last seven games. That doesn’t mean the Packers are at risk of losing this game. However, maxing out at 24 points does make covering 13 points a little more difficult to pull off.
The Detroit defense also deserves a little bit of credit. The injury to Stafford and the struggles of the Lions on offense are the biggest reason why they’ve lost eight in a row. Defensively, the Lions have held five of their last eight opponents to 27 points or less. That’s respectable considering the output from their offense during that span. For a Green Bay offense that’s been good but isn’t exactly clicking on all cylinders, I think the Lions can put up some resistance.
The key for the Lions in this game is finding a little bit of offense to help keep them within striking distance. While Blough has had his growing pains, he’s looked sharp at times and has a capable group of receivers around him. The Lions also got Kerryon Johnson back from injury last week. Despite a sluggish game last week against the Broncos, Johnson should provide a little more support for Blough and the passing game after shaking off some rush.
Ultimately, a 13-point spread seems a little high in this game. The Packers have a limited number of lopsided wins this year while the Lions have a limited number of lopsided losses. Green Bay is also facing a little bit of pressure with the top seed in the NFC still up for grabs. Even if it happens via a garbage-time score, I think Detroit can keep this game close enough to beat the spread at home.