The Huge Game Tonight… Is No Longer As Huge

Posted: 01/01/2017 by levcohen in Football

The NFL has to be cursing out Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins right now. With its 19-10 loss to the Giants, who had absolutely nothing to play for, Washington just cost the league its one chance of playoff intrigue in Week 17. The Redskins are eliminated, which means that both Green Bay and Detroit have clinched playoff spots. The game tonight just lost a lot of oomph, didn’t it? Sure, the teams would both like to win the NFC North and earn a home playoff game. But there’s no way it’ll be as intense as it would have been, especially since the loser might get the better first round matchup. I think I’d probably rather play the Giants at home in round one than the Seahawks on the road, but it’s close, especially since Seattle has really struggled of late. Regardless, the game lost a lot of luster when Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie intercepted his second pass of the game to seal New York’s win.

Green Bay Packers (9-6, 8-6-1) at Detroit Lions (9-6, 8-6-1):
Spread: Packers favored by 3.5
Over/under: 50.5
My prediction: This feels too easy. The Packers have been rolling, with five consecutive wins since Aaron Rodgers proclaimed that the 4-6 Packers would win out. The Lions have backed into the playoffs with double-digit losses in Dallas and New York. I bet you can guess who the public is betting on in this game (about 80% of the money is on the Packers).

I have to say a few things before I inevitably pick the Packers to win the game. The Lions are 6-1 at home. Not sure what that’s worth, but it’s something. Top cornerback Darius Slay, one of the best CBs in the NFL, is back this week, and just in the nick of time. He can shadow Jordy Nelson and should limit the receiver, who’s seemed pretty unstoppable of late against inferior cornerbacks. The Lions won’t have to worry about Randall Cobb, who’s out with a left ankle injury. Unfortunately, Aaron Rodgers will probably still be able to pick the #32 ranked DVOA defense apart. The Lions won’t get much pressure on Rodgers, and we all know what that means. And on the other side of the ball, the Lions will be without center Travis Swanson and right tackle Riley Reiff. Mike Daniels and Green Bay’s hot pass rush are going to make Matthew Stafford feel uncomfortable. Recently, that’s led to pretty bad results for the Lions’ offense.

This line is probably on the wrong side of three points, but I don’t want to pick against the Packers here, especially since Stafford is a little banged up. I think the Lions’ defense got exposed last week after they’d gotten away with a lot against bad offenses the previous few months. They could well get exposed again tonight. Packers win 31-23.
Packers cover
Over

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