Green Bay (9-6) at Detroit (9-6)
When: Sunday, January 1st 2017
Where: Ford Field, Detroit, MI
Time: 8:30 ET | TV: NBC
The NFL has saved the best for last. The Week 17 contest with the biggest playoff implications is the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions on Sunday Night Football. The winner will take home the NFC North title and a spot in the postseason. Both teams will get into the postseason if the Washington Redskins lose at home to the New York Giants, otherwise there are myriad playoff possibilities. The Lions, who have been dominated in back-to-back losses to the Giants and Dallas, have an outside chance to earn a first-round bye while Green Bay cannot finish higher than the No. 3 seed in the NFC. The Packers scorched Detroit in the first meeting 34-27 behind four touchdown passes by Aaron Rodgers, who was also named NFC Offensive Player of the Week after tossing four scoring passes in a 38-25 victory over Minnesota last Saturday. Rodgers has 11 TDs and zero interceptions in Green Bay’s current five-game winning streak. Rodgers has an NFL-high 36 touchdown passes and 14 of them have gone to Jordy Nelson, who is coming off a huge performance with nine catches for 154 yards and a pair of scores against Minnesota and also went over 100 yards and two TDs versus Detroit in Week 3.
Matt Stafford has posted three of his four lowest passer ratings over the past three games, throwing four interceptions against one touchdown since injuring the middle finger on his throwing hand, but he blamed the miscues more on poor decision-making than the injury. Stafford is 20 yards shy of becoming the fourth quarterback with 4,000 in six consecutive seasons. Running back Theo Riddick (wrist) has missed the past three games and did not practice Thursday, but Zach Zenner provided a spark to the running game with 67 yards and two touchdowns on just 12 carries last week. Top cornerback Darius Slay (hamstring) missed last week’s game but practiced on a limited basis Thursday. His return would be a huge boost for a defense that is near the bottom of the league with 25 sacks and 16th against the pass. Detroit is 6-1 at home with the only loss coming in Week 2 to Tennessee (16-15).
Detroit was rolling until they ran into the NFC East the last two weeks, but they will be ready for this game. I know Green Bay is on fire offensively right now, but the Lions play well at home especially as an underdog. When I take a look at an underdog, the first question I have is – can they win the game outright. I think Detroit has a very good chance of winning, so taking the 3.5 points is a gimmie.
Pick: Lions +3.5