All of a sudden a game that early on had the look of a colossal mismatch figures to be a nail-biter when the Green Bay Packers invade Detroit to face the Lions on Thursday night to open Week 13.
The Packers, no longer comfortably in front in the NFC North, not only have frittered away a two-game lead over Minnesota but now are fighting for their playoff lives while the Lions have developed a pulse. Detroit stands only two games out of a NFC wild-card berth with five games to play.
Thus, this game has intense meaning for both teams.
Now for a closer look at this week’s game, with the odds courtesy of Westgate Las Vegas.
Green Bay Packers (7-4) at Detroit Lions (4-7)
Time: 5:30 p.m. PT
Line: Packers by 3 (46.5)
Facts: Detroit became the 143rd team in league history to open 0-5. Of the previous 142, none reached the postseason. Only the 1962 Bills (7-6-1) had a winning record… Green Bay, meanwhile, opened with six straight wins before losing four of its past five, including 18-16 to Detroit at Lambeau three weeks ago as a 10.5-point pick, one of only two times a double-digit favorite has lost this year… The Lions have won the past two vs. GB at Ford Field, including a 40-10 romp on Thanksgiving 2013 when Packers QB Aaron Rodgers was out. The Lions had a 435-yard edge in total offense that game, the greatest margin in any league game the past three seasons. The biggest gap this year was when Denver outgained the visiting Packers by 352 in a Week 8 victory, 29-10.
Analysis: Detroit goes for its first sweep of the Packers in 24 years and will be facing a Green Bay squad that’s coming off a startling Thanksgiving loss at home to Chicago, 17-13. Even in the one game GB won during its slide, Rodgers completed fewer than half his passes. Since Week 5, when he was seventh on the passer chart with a 70.6 percent completion percentage, he’s dropped to 23rd at 60.5. Detroit’s Matt Stafford, meanwhile, is coming off a 5 TD/no INT game against Philadelphia and has responded well to new OC Jim Bob Cooter. Detroit’s defense isn’t a laughingstock anymore, either, with six sacks of the Eagles’ Mark Sanchez last week. With Packer OLT Bryan Bulaga and center Corey Linsley listed as questionable Wednesday with ankle injuries that could be enough to give the Lions an advantage.
Forecast: Lions 24, Packers 20
“Popular” Bob Christ has been forecasting NFL games for more than 30 years. His work has appeared in newspapers from coast to coast in Canada and the U.S. Contact him at [email protected].