Hello and happy weekend to all of you, except Lions fans because they’re 0-1 and lost to the Bears last week after Mitchell Trubisky threw three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter. The Packers? Can’t relate. It’s very difficult to find many criticisms from last week’s dismantling of the Vikings. The fourth quarter saw the Vikings score three touchdowns and convert three two-point conversions, but the game was never in doubt thanks to the one of the most efficient of an offensive performances we have seen in a long time from the Packers. What a breath of fresh air.
But I’m not here to talk down to the rest of the division and recap last week’s game. The other great writers at PackersTalk.com have you covered there. I’m here to turn this 1-0 record against the spread into a 2-0 streak. Last week was a bit different than this week because the Packers were underdogs and I still expected them to win the game, which makes the spread pretty irrelevant. This week, the Packers are favorites. We expect them to beat the Lions, but now the question is: By how much?
Right now, the Packers are favored by 6.5 on Bovada, which is just shy of what’s known as a key number. In football, the key numbers are 3, 7, and 10, and I suppose you can count 14, but spreads don’t usually get that high. These are key numbers because it is very common for scores to be separated by those amounts. For example, a score of 35-28 has a difference of 7, and a score of 24-21 has a difference of 3. If we’re taking the Packers against the spread again this week, which I am, then not having to give the Lions a full 7 points is a big advantage. If the game ends up a one-possession game, the Packers could likely be covering the spread.
This number helps protect us against a backdoor cover too. Matt Stafford is a talented quarterback who, if down by 14 points late in the game, will be firing away trying to score a touchdown and give his team a chance to recover an onside kick and make a miracle happen. The miracles don’t always come, but the late covers do. Since the Packers are only giving 6.5 here, a late touchdown by the Lions with something like :16 seconds left on the clock doesn’t beat them against the spread.
Let’s talk more specifically now about why I like the Packers here. First I’ll focus on the offense, which doesn’t need much to be said. Last week, Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFluer put on a clinic against Mike Zimmer and a pretty talented defense. The Vikings have their holes in the secondary, but the Lions are objectively worse at all three levels of the defense. The Packers could have scored over 50 last week if not for a measly six points in three redzone trips early in the game. I expect a great showing again from that side of the ball.
On defense, the Packers were really good. Some late-game prevent defense gave the Vikings a lot of extra yards and points, but the game was pretty well in hand given the fact that Rodgers was doing whatever he wanted with the ball. The Lions, again, are much worse than the Vikings. I know it’s lazy to use the transitive property here and say ‘The Packers beat the Vikings by more than 6.5, and the Vikings are better than the Lions, therefore the Packers will beat the Lions by more than 6.5.’ But honestly, that was my mindset when I was trying to guess what the spread would be. I have no idea why it isn’t closer to 10 points, especially since the game is in Lambeau.
This is an easy side to take and should be a winner unless what we saw last week from the Packers wasn’t legitimate. I don’t want to penalize the team for being good though. The 6.5 protects a backdoor cover by the Lions, it covers the key number, and the Packers are just so, so much better than the Lions.——————
Tanner Nestle is born and raised in Wisconsin, and he takes nothing more seriously than his fandom of the Green Bay Packers! You can follow him on twitter at @NestleIsTheName.