Motivation Be Damned, Lions Will Cover At Packers Sunday

The seventh and final seed in the NFC postseason is up for grabs when the Green Bay Packers (8-8) host the Detroit Lions (8-8) on Sunday Night Football in Week 18. Kickoff at Lambeau Field is set for 8:20 p.m. ET.

Detroit needs to win and help to clinch a playoff berth. If the Los Angeles Rams upset the Seattle Seahawks and the Lions upset the Packers, Detroit is in. All the Packers need to do is beat the Lions.

While some bettors might be hesitant to take a side in Lions-Packers on SNF before seeing the result of Rams-Seahawks, I'm BETTING DETROIT PLUS THE POINTS at DraftKings Sportsbook regardless.

Betting Details (DraftKings)

Lemme first go over my concerns with Detroit in this spot before laying out my pro-Lions case. These include Green Bay winning the box score in the first Lions-Packers meeting this season and Aaron Rodgers at home in December.

The latter is fairly self-explanatory. Rodgers is the reigning back-to-back NFL MVP and the Packers are 8-0 straight up (SU) with +11.3 SU margin and 5-3 ATS at home in December since 2019.

Earlier this season in Detroit, Green Bay were better on third down, out-gained the Lions 135 total yards — 5.6-4.5 in yards per play (YPP) — and won the time of possession 34:42-25:18. Detroit won 15-9.

But, the Packers puked all over themselves and Rodgers threw the game away. Green Bay lost the turnover battle 3-1 and had more penalties and more penalty yards. The Packers went 1-for-4 on fourth down and 0-for-4 in the red zone.

That said, let's ...

Fade the 'recency bias' of Green Bay's win streak

Green Bay's spread opened at minus-3.5-4 depending where you looked. The public is all over the Packers because of Rodgers and their current four-game win streak. However, I view this as an overreaction.

The Packers beat an awful/tanking, and now 3-13, Bears team in Week 13. Then Green Bay had a bye before unimpressively beating the Rams 24-12 in Baker Mayfield's second start in LA in Week 15.

Green Bay's other two wins were over the Dolphins whose starting QB, Tua Tagovailoa, got concussed mid-game on Christmas and an overrated Vikings last weekend. The Packers are +9 in turnover differential in their last four games.

Rodgers isn't even playing well, Green Bay's opponents are just beating themselves. He has a 64.2% completion rate with a 4/2 TD/INT ratio and an 87.0 QB Rating during the Packers' winning streak.

Also ...

The Packers aren't 4-5 points better than the Lions

Detroit has a better opponent-adjusted net efficiency (DVOA) than Green Bay for the full season and a better weighted DVOA, per Football Outsiders.

The Lions have a plus-net points per play and the Packers are negative in net points per play. Lions-Packers are neck-and-neck in net YPP with Green Bay ranking 19th and Detroit 20th.

Also, Lions QB Jared Goff is having a better season than Rodgers and has more weapons to work with. Goff ranks higher than Rodgers in both DVOA (fourth vs. 20th) and QBR (seventh vs. 27th).

Furthermore, Detroit's offensive line wins the trenches vs. Green Bay in both run-blocking and pass protection, according to Pro Football Focus.

Finally ...

Detroit will come to play regardless of the stakes

If there's a one thing we can guarantee out of Lions coach Dan Campbell, it's that he'll have Detroit ready to play Sunday. Will the Lions be crushed if the Seahawks win, rendering their playoff chances?

Of course.

But, there is an argument Detroit has a better chance of making SNF a game because nothing is at stake. Think about it, the Lions will be angry about missing the playoffs but won't have the pressure of "win and get in".

To be honest, I'll wait before betting Detroit here because if the Seahawks beat the Rams, public money is going to pour in on the Packers. Maybe we get the Lions +5.5 or +6?

Either way, Campbell and Co. will want to spoil Green Bay's season. At the end of the day, Campbell can still say the Lions controlled what they could control down the stretch. And beat the Packers twice.

For me, that's good enough to ...

BET: Lions +5 (-110) & sprinkle on Detroit's ML (+190) at DraftKings Sportsbook

PS Best Bet: The total (49) in Lions-Packers

This total is too high and here are my notes why:

Let's wait closer to kickoff before betting the UNDER 49 (-110) in Lions-Packers. Typically, the public bets Overs and favorites so maybe this game gets to 50 or higher.

I'd only put a half-unit on this wager but, for content purposes, I'll lock in a bet now at a good number.