At one point, this game would have been considered a complete mismatch. Over the past two decades, the Green Bay Packers have been one of the NFL’s elite while the Detroit Lions have ranged from mediocre to bumbling. This was especially true when the teams played at Lambeau Field. Until a couple of years ago, the Lions had gone 24 years without a victory on the Packers’ home turf. That leaves a Green Bay run at home since 1992 of 25-3 SU/18-8 ATS.
That is no longer the case, however, and the Lions have now won three straight from the Packers at home along with the last four games head to head in the series. In all four of those games, the Lions ripped the Packers’ defense for 30+ points but the current incarnation of Green Bay has been very strong defensively. Even so, the fact that Detroit has won the last four head to head by a combined margin of 127-51 is somewhat difficult to fathom. So too is the general performance of Detroit this season–the Lions are 2-1-1 SU/3-1 ATS in the second year under head coach Matt Patricia, who played college ball at a school better known for hockey success–Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). Of course, he also served on the New England Patriots’ coaching staff for 14 seasons including six as defensive coordinator.
Detroit is still a ‘work in progress’ but they’re most decidedly a team that opponents can’t take lightly. They’ve played three playoff caliber opponents this year and even in their loss gave Kansas City a ton of trouble before losing 34-30 but covering as +7 home underdog. The Packers are 4-1 SU/ASTS this year but not sure that their ‘defensive renaissance’ isn’t as much a function of scheduling than anything else. Their first three wins came against Chicago, Minnesota and Denver–all teams that have had troubles offensively at some point this season. They did earn an impressive road victory over Dallas but now that the Cowboys are 3-3 SU it’s not quite as impressive as it was when it happened.
The public loves the Packers and they particularly love the Packers at Lambeau Field. The reality is that the ‘Lambeau Mystique’ isn’t what it used to be. Packers on a run of 11-7 SU/9-10 ATS on their home field and a brutal 2-10 SU/4-8 ATS run against opponents with winning records. Lions are 10-6 ATS as an underdog and 6-2 ATS on grass fields. They’ve also covered 6 of their last 8 overall. It’ll take a bit more to sell me on the ‘Packers are a defensive powerhouse’ narrative and until they do I’d much rather have the improving Lions plus the points.