Free NFL Pick: Green Bay at Detroit 12-12-2010

December 11, 2010

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Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions

Sunday December 12th, 2010 1:00 PM EST

Line: Green Bay -7

Overview:

Even at 8-4, the Green Bay Packers are fighting for their playoff lives. They are one game behind the Chicago Bears. One minor slip up could not only drop them out of the NFC North battle, it could bounce them out of a Wild Card spot. The Packers have undergone a series of injuries on both sides of the ball, making an 8-4 record an incredible feat. Every game moving forward should be treated as a playoff game, even if it is against a team like the one they face this week.

The Lions have lost in their last five outings, putting them at 2-10. Despite their horrendous record, the Lions continue to show signs of life. Last week, they were involved in a close game against the Bears. Detroit is nowhere near where they want to be, but they are assembling the foundation of the franchise and it appears they have pieces that could launch them back into relevancy.

Keys to the Game:

  • Clay Matthews’ stock is plummeting. Last week, the Packers tried to attack rookie tackle Anthony Davis on a number of plays with Matthews, but he logged no sacks. After posting three sacks in each of his first two games of the season, Matthews has only brought down the quarterback three times in his last six games. While this is nothing to hang his head about, averaging .5 sacks a game simply isn’t good enough to earn Defensive Player of the Year Honors. He could have a multiple sack day against the Lions, who are shaky up front.
  • Ndamukong Suh was fined last week for striking quarterback Jay Cutler in the back of the head with a forearm shiver. That sort of attitude might be exactly what the Lions need. Suh could revolutionize the defensive tackle position. His size and athleticism have helped him dominate the trenches and rack up eight sacks this season, but it is his ferocity that the Lions so desperately need to be infectious on their defense. The Lions are viewed as being somewhat soft, but Suh is doing everything he can to change that perception on a weekly basis.
  • Aaron Rodgers isn’t involved in much MVP talk, but if he can manage to pull off the NFC North with the injuries the Packers have encountered, he should be in the discussion. Rodgers has thrown 11 touchdowns and no interceptions in his last five games. While he has nine picks on the season, all of them came in the first half of the season, while he was adjusting to having no legitimate option at running back, a new tight end, and new faces in his receiving corp.
  • Calvin Johnson has scored 12 touchdowns this season, including one in each of his last four games. He gets his fair share of catches, but is nowhere near the top of the NFL when it comes to receptions; however, he does rank second in receiving touchdowns. Johnson has had to battle the quarterback revolving door in Detroit, but has managed to remain a dynamic playmaker. Everyone under center realizes they have one of the most dangerous receiver in the league in Johnson, which accounts for the shots they take in the end zone with Johnson when they are in the red zone. He will have to work this, regardless of which corner he faces on any given play, but appears to have the advantage over both of them.

Key Matchup:

Greg Jennings Vs. the Lions’ secondary

  • It seems every single week, I say if nothing else, the opposing defense needs to contain Greg Jennings. Nearly every week, the defense fails to do so. Jennings has one of the most lethal double moves in the league. He is averaging 131 yards a game over his last three games and has five touchdowns in that span. Aaron Rodgers needed a guy to step up and take on a bigger role in the offense in light of the recent injuries, and Greg Jennings has become an unstoppable machine.
  • The Lions have got to get a jam on Jennings. He is going to get the ball thrown at him. While there is no way they can stop him from hauling in his six or so catches, they need to make sure they don’t end up getting embarrassed on any given play. Jennings can take any play to the house. His 57 yard touchdown last week should suffice as evidence of the embarrassment he can bestow upon a secondary. If the Lions let him break loose, there is no way the Lions are going to be able to keep up on offense.

Wrap Up:

The Lions play better at home, so I was hoping this spread would be more around five, to be safe. If you can tease this game, it is probably in your best interest. The Lions usually cover at home, failing to do so only once this season. That being said, I’m going with the Packers. The way the offense is clicking, I just can’t see the Lions keeping up. Seven might seem like a narrow margin, but it’s foolish to sleep on the Lions at home.

Free NFL Pick: Green Bay -7


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