Traditionally, the Detroit Lions have struggled in the rivalry series with the Green Bay Packers, losing 22 of the last 30 matchups. But to be fair, most of the Packers’ division opponents have struggled against them.
This season, Green Bay is poised to win its seventh NFC North title in the last 10 years. For comparison, the Lions have four division titles in franchise history, with the last one coming in 1993.
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But one advantage Detroit has against the Packers recently is against the spread. The Lions have covered in six of the last seven meetings between the two teams and have recorded four straight-up wins.
Detroit enters Sunday’s 4:25 p.m. matchup as 7.5-point underdogs and has a +345 moneyline. Sports bettors are expecting a potential shootout between Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers, with the total rising from the opening 45 points up to 55 — the highest total of any NFL game this weekend.
If there was any question the Lions received an emotional boost with Darrell Bevell making his interim head coaching debut after the team fired Matt Patricia, it was answered with Sunday’s 34-30 comeback win over the Chicago Bears. The Lions entered the game as 3-point underdogs.
Detroit trailed 30-20 with just 4:33 remaining and had the ball on its own 4-yard line. Despite the outcome seemingly in doubt, Stafford — who passed for 402 yards, three touchdowns and an interception — engineered a 96-yard scoring drive in 2:15 to bring the team within a field goal.
The defense continued the momentum with a strip-sack by defensive end Romeo Okwara, allowing the Lions to take over at the Bears’ 7. Two plays later, Adrian Peterson scored a 5-yard rushing touchdown for the 34-30 advantage.
Detroit’s defense would force a turnover on downs when the Bears were stuffed on their fourth-and-1 attempt from the Detroit 20.
“My emotions right now, I can’t even think straight,” Bevell said in the postgame media session. “I’m just trying to wrap my head around this whole thing … It was a great job by these guys of believing from the moment we started until the end.
“My mentality was that if I’m going to lead these guys, I got to have the same belief. I believe in these guys. I believe in what we’re trying to do and it goes to them. Those guys believe in themselves as well and I think it showed with how they reacted in those situations and how they played.”
The Lions’ comeback win was the first for the team when trailing by double digits since Nov. 19, 2017. Previously, Detroit had lost its last 40 games when losing by double digits in the fourth quarter, dating back to Oct. 26, 2014.
Lions look to slow down the highest-scoring offense
The Packers enter with the league’s highest-scoring offense, averaging 31.6 points per game, while the unit is second in yards per game (396.6).
As it’s been for more than a decade, Green Bay’s offensive success can be attributed to Rodgers, who leads the league with a 118.5 quarterback rating and has thrown 36 touchdowns to four interceptions.
Rodgers was efficient in the first meeting between the two teams on Sept. 20, completing 18 of 30 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns in the Packers’ 42-21 win over the Lions. But it was Aaron Jones who gave the Detroit defense the most issues, finishing with 168 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries.
If Sunday’s matchup evolves into a high-scoring shootout, the Lions could be without key offensive contributors. Wide receiver Kenny Golladay and offensive tackle Tyrell Cosby did not practice on Thursday while running back D’Andre Swift was limited.
Cornerback and first-round pick Jeff Okudah also did not practice on Thursday.
Lions playoff odds
The win over the Bears kept Detroit’s slim playoff hopes alive. Detroit currently sits 10th in the NFC standings and is two games behind the Minnesota Vikings (7-5) for the seventh and final playoff spot.
FanDuel currently has the Lions’ odds to make the postseason at +1160. A $100 wager would net a $1160 cash out if Detroit was able to make a late push into the playoffs.