Week 9 Monday Night Football Preview: Detroit Lions vs Green Bay Packers Betting Advice

By Peter Brooks in Sports
| November 2, 2017 12:00 am PDT
Lions vs Packers

For the Week 9 edition of Monday Night Football, we lucky fans get to watch one of the great NFC North rivalries of the 2010s:

The Detroit Lions taking on the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, a rematch of the last regular season game of the 2016/17 season, last year’s Week 17 Sunday Night Football game in Ford Field, a winner-take-the-NFC North thriller.

  • Who: Detroit Lions (3–4) vs Green Bay Packers (4–3)
  • Where: Lambeau Field. Green Bay, Wisconsin
  • When: Monday, November 6, 2017. 8:30 PM (EST) on ESPN
The Packers are without Aaron Rodgers in this game,

but that shouldn’t make it any less of a dogfight.

Rodgers went down in Green Bay’s Week 6 game against another division rival, the Minnesota Vikings. After rolling out to his right and throwing a pass, Vikings’ linebacker Anthony Barr tackled Rodgers and landed on top of him, with most of his weight falling on the elite quarterback.

Rolled up on the shoulder, Rodgers immediately left the field and left the game, ultimately diagnosed with a broken collarbone.

At this point, it’s still unclear whether Aaron Rodgers will be able

to play again this season. Currently on injured reserve,

the absolute earliest he could return is December 17th, Week 15.

As the best player on the Packers’ team and generally the best player in the stadium every week when the Packers play, the loss of their star quarterback is undoubtedly a major blow to the team.

In his place, the Packers have placed full confidence in third-year backup Brett Hundley, out of UCLA, who they selected in the 5th round of the 2015 NFL Draft.

The fact that the Packers are starting Brett Hundley for at least the next six games completely changes the balance of power in the race for the NFC North.

After eight weeks of the season, the Chicago Bears have the worst record in the division at 3–5. Even though the Bears have been awfully scrappy thus far, with overtime wins against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens, the fact that they have a rookie quarterback and still have road games left in Philadelphia, Detroit, and Minnesota makes their chances for the division (even for 8 wins) look slim.

But even counting out the Bears, it remains a three-man race

for the division title in the NFC North.

Currently, the Vikings have the best record at 6–2, and the Packers and Lions round things out with records of 4–3 and 3–4, respectively. Minnesota has clearly played the best defense so far this season, with Mike Zimmer’s well-coached unit keeping them in control of games despite having a major quagmire at quarterback between the injured Sam Bradford and the inept Case Keenum.

But even though the Vikings have a two-game lead in the division,

they still have games left against the Redskins, Rams, Falcons,

Panthers, and Bengals, as well as all three division opponents.

In this way, it’s clear that even though the Packers and the Lions are sitting behind in the standings after 7 games, there’s still a whole half of the season left to be played, and in the NFC North, the division is there for anyone to take.

And let’s not forget that the NFC North is also a division that frequently nabs one of the two Wild Card spots: since 2009, there has been only one year in which an NFC North team has not taken a Wild Card spot.

In this span, the Lions have made the playoffs on a Wild Card three times, the Packers have grabbed four Wild Card spots, and the Vikings have made it to the dance one time as a Wild Card team.

And not only does this game have important implications for the NFC North playoff representative and the overall playoff picture, it’s also a heated rivalry game.

From last year’s Week 17 winner-takes-the-division game, to the Miracle in Motown in 2015/16, where a last second Hail Mary by Aaron Rodgers capped off an incredible comeback victory, the Packers and the Lions have a history of playing each other extremely close, and oftentimes spoiling each other’s playoff dreams.

For this reason, even though Aaron Rodgers won’t be on the field, we’re predicting a thriller.

With two division rivals as old as the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions, there is a history that runs deep. And when two teams play each other twice a year for as long as the Packers and Lions have, there’s a degree of familiarity that makes every single individual matchup incredibly tight, and bitterly hard-fought.

We can’t wait to see these two NFC North rivals face off on Monday Night Football, and to see just how tight this divisional race will turn out to be.

And below, we’ve got you covered with all the information you need to know in order to make informed gambling decisions on the following bets.

  • Moneyline bets
  • Bets against the spread
  • The total score over/under bet
  • Any prop bets or futures that could hold value

Aaron Rodgers is out with a broken collarbone, but that doesn’t mean you can count out the Green Bay Packers. And in this rivalry game at Lambeau Field, we’ll see what Packers’ backup Brett Hundley is made of, and what this means for the future of the NFC North this season.

Lions vs Packers Betting

MoneyLine

  • Lions -140
  • Packers +120

In picking games straight-up for moneyline odds, our philosophy involves taking a look at the way that the two teams match up holistically, in order to determine which team has the mental advantage.

In our experience, the team that wins the game is generally the team that is able to stay mentally tough for the entire 60-minute contest.

When a team is able to stay focused, stay disciplined, and keep communicating well and playing together as a unit, they limit the mental mistakes that cost games.

On the other hand, when a team loses this mental toughness, they are liable to commit costly mistakes, including errant throws, dropped balls, missed assignments, blown coverages, penalties, lost battles in the trenches, and a general lack of gap-soundness on defense and special teams.

When these mistakes start to pile up, the game progressively spirals out of control and ends in a loss.

In this game, especially with Aaron Rodgers out,

we believe home field advantage will be key.

Obviously, the dominant feature of this entire game – the lynchpin of our entire prediction – is the Green Bay quarterback, Brett Hundley.

Not only is Hundley in a very tough situation, as a three-year backup who has had very limited regular season game action due to the consistent excellence and durability of Aaron Rodgers, but he is also more or less completely unknown to us, for this same reason.

We just don’t have enough game film on Brett Hundley to know how he is going to perform in this game.

One thing we do know about Brett Hundley is that he is going to need a lot of help from his offensive line and from the Packers’ run game if he’s going to have success.

Over the years, the Packers have established a clear model for how they win football games when Aaron Rodgers is in the lineup.

They build an offensive line that can hold up in pass protection for upwards of 5-7 seconds, and at this point, when plays break down, they rely on the backyard football ability of Aaron Rodgers and his chemistry with the receivers to make big plays down the field, and with his legs.

Importantly, this model only works if Rodgers is in the lineup. With Brett Hundley in the game, the Packers are going to need to completely change what they do.

Luckily for them, the formula for how to win with a young or inexperienced quarterback is very well-known:

  • Protect the quarterback. Young or inexperienced quarterbacks tend to get rattled under pressure, and stop keeping their eyes downfield. They need extra help to feel comfortable.
  • Run the football. If you can’t establish the run, defenses will drop extra defenders in coverage, which makes reads that are already difficult for a young quarterback downright impossible.
  • Simplify the game plan. Young players have so little experience that they get out of their depth very quickly. It’s important to keep them in situations that they’re already familiar with.
  • Get the ball out of their hands quickly. By employing a quick passing game, young QBs establish a rhythm with high-percentage throws, and the opposing pass rush has no time to get home.

This is the game plan that the Packers will have to run if they are going to have success in this game on Monday Night Football with Brett Hundley.

When any one of these features of the game plan fall apart (or if they all fall apart in succession), the chances go way up for Hundley to commit those mental mistakes that either end drives, or potentially even lead to turnovers or points the other way.

And importantly, all of these factors of the game are helped

by the fact that the game is in Green Bay.

Statistically, the Packers have one of the best home win percentages in the entire National Football League over the last few decades. The Lions are a dome team, and it is officially November football, but we don’t foresee the weather impacting this game, even if it does get cold by 10PM central time in northern Wisconsin.

Playing annually in Green Bay and Chicago has accustomed the Lions to the cold.

More importantly, we think that the comfort and home crowd support that the Packers will gain on offense from playing at home helps Hundley a whole lot, especially in terms of communication.

Generally speaking, the mechanism by which home field advantage operates is for crowd noise to significantly hamper communication between a quarterback and his offensive line, which can in turn yield pre-snap penalties or protection errors that put a team behind in the down and distance and disrupt the flow of the offense.

We don’t foresee Matthew Stafford being at all affected by playing in front of the Lambeau crowd, but we do believe that Brett Hundley gets a significant boost.

And we believe that this boost will push the Packers over the edge to a victory at home against the Lions. Consider the way that these two teams are entering this game:

  • For the Lions, they are coming off a sluggish loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and looking forward to returning home for a gimme putt against the Cleveland Browns. There’s no real sense of urgency about this game; it’s simply another chance to try and tighten things up.
  • For the Packers, on the other hand, they are coming off their bye week, where they finally had a chance to both get healthy and install a new and complete offense around Brett Hundley. They know how hard wins will be to come by without Rodgers, so they’ll be going all out on Sunday.

Good coaches know how to pick their spots in a season, and know which games are the most important to squirrel away for the tough times. Mike McCarthy’s Packers are tied for the league lead in consecutive playoff appearances, and this season-level game management is a key reason why.

We foresee the Packers coming out with guns blazing, and to be playing at peak health and with laser focus after the bye week. Green Bay steals this game from their division rival on Monday Night Football.

Pick: Packers to win

Spread

  • Lions -3 (-105)
  • Packers +3 (-115)

Having made our prediction for the Green Bay Packers to get their first win without Aaron Rodgers at home against the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football, because of the advantage provided by playing at Lambeau Field coming off of a bye week, we’ve obviously already made our pick against the spread, as the Packers are three-point underdogs in this game.

Usually, when we pick games against the spread, our philosophy involves taking a look at the way that the winning team’s offense matches up against the losing team’s defense.

In our experience, when a team is both able to stay mentally tough enough to win the game straight-up and matches up well on offense against the opposing defense, they are generally able to score enough points to both win straight-up and to win against the spread.

On the other hand, when the losing team’s defense matches up well enough to generate stops, they are often able to keep the game close enough to pull off a backdoor cover.

To shore up our case for a Packer victory as home underdogs,

let’s take a look at this matchup.

As we described in the section above, the Packers’ offense with Brett Hundley at quarterback is fundamentally different from the Packers’ offense with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.

And it’s important to understand how this difference manifests, because unless we understand how the Packers’ offense will look different, there’s no way we’ll be able to see how they match up against Detroit.

Some people might think that Brett Hundley will run the same offense as Aaron Rodgers did, only less effectively. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As we described above, an offense run by a young and inexperienced quarterback isn’t just different from an offense run by Aaron Rodgers – it’s completely, fundamentally opposite, in every way.

Let’s take a look at what the new-look Green Bay Packers will need to start doing with Hundley in at QB:

  • The Packers need to become a run-first team.
  • Last season, the Packers had the 4th-fewest rushing attempts in the league and the 5th-most passing attempts. For most teams, this enormous disparity indicates a team that can’t score points, can’t control the clock, and is constantly playing from behind and throwing to catch up.

    Exactly the opposite: The Packers were ranked 4th in the league in scoring offense, and 4th in the league in time of possession.

    This year, however, they can’t rely on Aaron Rodgers to change plays at the line of scrimmage, to diagnose the defensive scheme, and to dissect coverages. Brett Hundley simply doesn’t have that skill set.

    The Packers will need to start running the ball on first and second down, to get Hundley into manageable third down situations, where play action, veer, or read option plays are available.

  • The Packers need to shorten their route trees.
  • Last season, Jordy Nelson led the league in touchdowns, with 14. Nelson had 6 TDs in the first five weeks of this season (despite the fact that he only played in four of those games) which led the league all the way through the Packers’ bye week, before finally being overtaken by DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller last weekend in the Texans’ thrilling loss to the Seahawks.

    Davante Adams ended up second in the league last year in touchdowns, with 12, and between the two of them Nelson and Adams accounted for over 50% of the total offensive TDs scored by the Packers.

    If Green Bay is going to win games, they need to get the ball into the hands of their receivers, but it’s not going to be on long, slow-developing route trees. Things need to get faster, so they need to get shorter.

  • The Packers need to have flawless execution.

Aaron Rodgers is one of the most special talents in the history of the game, and some of the plays that he’s able to make couldn’t be made by any other player in the league.

Frequently, over the years, the Packers have made enough mistakes to lose a game, but, by some magic, Rodgers somehow pulls victory from the jaws of defeat. Just ask the Lions, two years ago, with the Miracle in Motown.

Brett Hundley doesn’t have any of this magic. If the Packers are going to win games with Hundley, it’s going to be by flawlessly executing a more traditional game plan: running the ball well on first and second down, getting into manageable third and short situations, and keeping Hundley out of pressure and out of obvious passing situations where he is liable to make mistakes.

We saw this “new-look” Brett Hundley-led Packers offense at work in Hundley’s first start, last game against the Saints. And importantly, it seemed to be working.

Looking at the final stat sheet, we see that the Saints won by 9, the Packers scored only 17 points, and Brett Hundley threw for zero touchdowns, with a completion percentage below 50%, a passer rating below 40, a measly 87 passing yards, and a costly interception. We see that Jordy Nelson and Davante Adams combined for 3 catches and 25 yards.

But what the stat line doesn’t show is that even with all of these issues in the passing game, the Packers were winning 17–16 with 10:30 left in the game.

The Packers offense that we saw in this Saints game was not a passing offense – it was a rushing offense. And the Saints didn’t know how to defend it, because it had been installed over the course of a single week and there had been zero game film for the Saints to study.

Since then, head coach Mike McCarthy – acknowledged as one of the greatest offensive minds in the game today – has had the entire length of the bye week to pencil in this new offense, and now an entire week of practice to install the offense into a rested team with its full five starting O-line back healthy.

And importantly, the Lions also don’t have any tape on this new offense. Meanwhile, with five front seven defenders on IR (including their strongest pass rusher, Haloti Ngata) and the 5th-worst passing defense in the league (in terms of net yards allowed per pass attempt), the Lions don’t match up well.

Pick: Packers to win by more than 3

Total Score

  • Over 43 (-110)
  • Under 43 (-110)

Now that we’ve established our prediction for the Green Bay Packers to win this game as home underdogs, as they will have had time to get healthy and install a new offense around Brett Hundley during the bye week, let’s now turn our attention to the question of whether the game will be generally high- or low-scoring.

When picking games for the total score over/under bet, our philosophy involves taking a look at the way that the winning team’s defense matches up against the losing team’s offense.

In our experience, when the winning team is both able to score enough points to win against the spread and able to generate stops on defense, they are generally able to control the flow and the timing of the game to such a degree that the total score will go over.

On the other hand, if the losing team’s defense is able to score points, the game will often turn into a shootout that pushes the total score over.

In this game, the matchup to watch for the total score

over/under bet is Green Bay’s D vs Detroit’s O.

Over the course of the last few seasons, the primary thing keeping the Packers from reaching the Super Bowl despite their dynamic offense has been the play of the defense.

Last season, the Packers had a historically bad month of November, in which they gave up an average of over 38 points per game over the course of four consecutive games.

The issue was the play of their secondary, absolutely decimated by injuries, with their #1 corner gone for the season and their next 5 options on the depth chart all missing time.

Even though the Packers made some key personnel moves over the offseason to shore up their defense, the results have been slow in coming, as injuries have struck.

The Packers spent their first draft pick on a cornerback (Kevin King) and their second pick on a safety (Josh Jones).

They acquired a former draft pick – cornerback Davon House – from the Jacksonville Jaguars, and added veteran free agent pass rusher Ahmad Brooks from the San Francisco 49ers to help fill the void left by the departure of Julius Peppers.

But so far this season, the injury bug has struck: Brooks and King,

along with veterans like signal caller Morgan Burnett,

team sack leader Nick Perry,

and stud D-lineman Mike Daniels, have all missed games.

Even still, the unit has been steadily improving, due primarily to the development of young rookie and sophomore players. Sophomore safety Kentrell Brice and sophomore defensive lineman Kenny Clark have taken big steps forward, and sophomore linebacker Blake Martinez has turned into a tackling machine, leading the team by a wide margin.

Last week against the New Orleans Saints,

the Packers’ defense played one great half of football.

In the first 10 minutes of the game, even though Drew Brees had held the ball for almost 9 minutes and gained 99 yards total offense, Brees had zero points to show for it, as the Packers intercepted him on two consecutive drives.

The Packers then gave up a touchdown (a suspicious-looking running play in which it was ultimately revealed that the team had only 10 defenders on the field) but followed this up by forcing two punts, and went into halftime having allowed the dynamic Saints offense only this one fluke touchdown, and leading on the scoreboard, 14–7.

Subsequently, in the second half, the Packers gave up four consecutive scoring drives, as the veteran Brees and his savvy head coach made some excellent halftime adjustments.

But importantly, it’s not just that the Packers were exposed for their lack of depth, as several key players went out at positions that were already featuring backup players due to prior injuries. It’s also that the New Orleans Saints persisted in their offensive scheme, and continued to execute at peak level over the entire course of the game.

Meanwhile, this same sustained execution was not seen from Detroit’s offense in last week’s game, at home, coming off the bye against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Last season, Matthew Stafford and the Lions set an NFL record for the most fourth-quarter comebacks in a single season. The team centered its entire identity around one simple idea: if the game was at all close in the fourth quarter, they would be able to come back and win.

They made their living on clutch plays late in games, and especially on converting drives into points in the red zone in these situations.

And last week against the Steelers, the Lions found themselves down 8 points at the start of the 4th, and held the Steelers scoreless in the final quarter. But nonetheless, they still lost by 5.

Incredibly, despite all their reputation for dynamic, dramatic touchdown drives late in games, the Lions were held to only a field goal in the second half by Pittsburgh’s defense. And it’s very important to understand that Pittsburgh’s defense really had little to do with it – the Lions had a first down within the Pittsburgh 11-yard line twice in the second half, and both times they turned the ball over on downs.

Failing to convert drives into points on first-and-goal is

one of the most obvious signs of trouble on O.

Ultimately, we believe that the bend-don’t break defense for the Green Bay Packers will come out playing its best football after having reached the halfway point of the season and having taken the opportunity provided by the bye week to get as healthy as possible.

Even still, we think it would take an absolute perfect game for Green Bay to keep the Lions from scoring points, especially as Detroit looks to right the ship offensively against a well-known opponent.

With so many young players on their defense and the great potential for turnovers in this game from Brett Hundley, we don’t think the Packers end up with a perfect game. We like the over.

Pick: Packers 27, Lions 21

Prop Bets

Now that we’ve established our overall prediction for the game – that the Packers win at home coming off of the bye week with a new-look, un-scouted offense lighting up the suspect Lions’ front seven, and with a defense that does just enough to keep the struggling Lions’ offense in check – let’s now see if we can’t profit off of this view of the game by investing in some prop bets.

Specifically, we believe that the following wagers will hold value in this game:

  • Brett Hundley to go over his posted total for yards. Last game against the Saints, reports came out that the Packers had worked the run game in practice almost exclusively. Coming out of the bye week, we believe that Hundley will surprise overly conservative oddsmakers, and gain yards.
  • The total number of sacks in the game to go under. With the Packers’ offensive line finally back healthy and their offensive scheme greatly simplified, we don’t see Detroit getting home. Meanwhile, Green Bay’s pass rush has been anemic. We don’t see many sacks in this game.
  • The total number of interceptions in the game to go over. One of the reasons why we’re predicting serious scoring in this game is because we’re predicting turnovers. Green Bay has a ball-hawking secondary, and Brett Hundley is always liable to give the ball up in the pass game.

In addition to the bets above that we’ll be able to watch unfold live on Monday Night Football, we would also direct your attention to the following future bets:

  • Aaron Jones to win offensive rookie of the year. Put this firmly in the category of a “sleeper,” as naturally Jones is far down the list of candidates right now. But if Deshaun Watson comes back down to earth and the Packers surge behind Jones, the value will never be better than it is now.
  • The Detroit Lions to go under their win total. In the offseason, the Lions had their total set at 8 wins, which is 8 losses. They already have 4 losses, and we think there’s at least 4 more to be found between the Packers, Browns, Bears, Vikings, Ravens, Bucs, Bears, Bengals, and Packers.
  • The Green Bay Packers to make the playoffs. Is this an optimistic bet? Undoubtedly. But it’s also a value bet: the Packers’ odds to make the playoffs will never offer better value, and no other team in the league has made the playoffs more consecutive years than Green Bay.

Veteran gamblers know that it’s not enough to watch games just to see if your individual in-game bets pay out. When you watch live game film, it’s important to keep an eye out for anything that might tip you off for future bets that you might want to make down the line.

As you watch this thrilling NFC North matchup on Monday Night Football, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for clues into the future bets listed above, and thank us later.

Summary: Best Bets

Since 2009, the NFC North has sent two teams to the playoffs every year but one, and the installment of Aaron Rodgers as the Packers’ starter in 2008 and Matt Stafford as the Lions’ starter in 2009 is a big reason why.

These two hated division rivals have played some thrilling games over the years, and even though Brett Hundley will start in this one instead of Rodgers, we’re still expecting a great game.

We believe that the Packers win this game because of the advantage provided from playing at home coming off the bye week.

Offensive guru Mike McCarthy will have had time to install a completely re-vamped, new-look, un-scouted offense around Brett Hundley and a newly healthy offensive line, and we think it overwhelms the Lions’ defense.

Meanwhile, we think that the Packers’ bend-don’t-break D will be able to do enough to keep the struggling Lions’ offense at bay.

In order to profit off of this view of the game, here are our best bets:

  • Packers +120 moneyline
  • Packers +3 against the spread (-115)
  • The total score to go over 43 (-110)
  • Brett Hundley to go over his posted total for yards
  • The total number of sacks in the game to go under
  • The total number of interceptions in the game to go over

In a topsy-turvy 2017/18 NFL season, key divisional matchups like this game between the Packers and Lions could very easily influence the playoff picture that ultimately emerges.

And with the Vikings headed into a tough stretch of games, we’re not counting out either of these teams in the race for the NFC North. It should be a thriller at Lambeau Field on Monday Night Football!

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