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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, December 8, 2012 at 6:52 PM

Sports bettors have had trouble pinning down an exact read on the Green Bay Packers this season. They started out as one of the favorites to win the NFC along with Philadelphia and San Francisco. Getting spanked at home in their season opener by the 49ers started a yo-yo process that has shown no signs of slowing down heading into Sunday Night’s nationally televised game against the Detroit Lions on NBC.

Last week, Green Bay beat the market in a 23-14 win over Minnesota. They looked like a playoff team outside of troubles chasing down Adrian Peterson (who they won’t see in the playoffs unless the Vikings get hot). But, two weeks ago, the Packers were throttled 38-10 by the New York Giants (who then didn’t impress vs. Washington the next week).

GREEN BAY’S BEST

Green Bay (-5) beat Chicago 23-10 (co-leaders currently in the NFC North)

Green Bay (+3) beat Houston 42-24 (Houston’s only loss so far!)

Green Bay (-4) beat St. Louis 30-20 (improved Rams took SF to OT twice)

GREEN BAY’S WORST

Green Bay (+3) lost to the NY Giants 38-10

Green Bay (-5) lost to San Francisco 30-22

Green Bay (-7) lost to Indianapolis 30-27 (blowing a big lead in the process)

GREEN BAY MEDIOCRITIES

Green Bay (-3) lost to Seattle 14-12 (unlucky loss, but a very poor offensive game)

Green Bay (-7) beat New Orleans 28-27 (when Saints were struggling)

Green Bay (-15) beat Jacksonville 24-15 (horrible stats vs. horrible team)

Green Bay (-10) beat Arizona 31-17 (covered, but poor defense vs. horrible offense)

Green Bay (-3) beat Detroit 24-20 (very lucky to steal a win)

It’s an amazing combination. Green Bay is capable of playing at a Super Bowl level. The win in Houston was something to behold at the time, and looks even better in retrospect. But…there’s a whole lot of ugly in there…including their first meeting with the team they’re playing tonight. In the playoffs, you have to string together solid performances vs. top opposition. Beating a power 42-24 the week before losing to a power 38-10 will have you watching the Super Bowl on TV with the rest of us.

If the Packers are going to become serious contenders for the title, they need to hit a high level and maintain it starting tonight vs. the Lions. Next up is a road game at Chicago, which could determine who wins the NFC North and who has to play on the road in the first week of the playoffs. The Packers will be favored in their last two games against Tennessee (home) and Minnesota (road). But there are no certainties with this team right now.

Let’s see what our indicator stats have to say about Sunday Night’s matchup…

DETROIT LIONS at GREEN BAY PACKERS (8:25 p.m. on NBC)

Las Vegas Spread: Green Bay by 7, total of 49

The line has been hopping between 6.5 and 7 through the week. Bettors like Green Bay at the shorter line, but dog players come in when they see the full touchdown. That tells you that the composite has the Packers about 3-4 points better on a neutral field. What’s interesting is that they were -3 on the road in Detroit in a game they covered. Normally, that would vault the line up to Green Bay -9 or even -10 at home in a rematch. That didn’t happen…which means the market is less impressed with the Packers now than they were two weeks ago. (Note that the total has come way down from an opener of 52 because of a forecast of snow and temperatures in the high 20’s)

WON-LOST RECORDS (schedule strength according to USA Today)

Green Bay: 8-4 (6th ranked schedule)

Detroit: 4-8 (14th ranked schedule)

Green Bay has played a tough schedule this year…with many of the top NFC contenders on the slate, Houston in the mix, and then playing in a killer division. It’s worth remembering that they may be suffering wear and tear that other teams aren’t dealing with. Detroit’s schedule is about to get tougher with Green Bay, Atlanta, and Chicago in the final month.

 

TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL

Green Bay: +6

Detroit: -5

Green Bay has done a great job of avoiding turnover debacles this year. They play clean football before either scoring or punting. That gives them an edge over a volatile team like Detroit that seems to have a knack for screwing things up with a high risk offense. Detroit lost the ball FOUR times when they lost to GB three weeks ago.

OFFENSIVE STATS

Green Bay: 350.6 yards-per-game on 5.4 yards-per-play

Detroit: 416.1 yards-per-game on 5.8 yards-per-play

Detroit’s high risk/high reward offense is designed to gobble up yardage. When they do that without turning the ball over, they’re a playoff team (don’t forget they earned a Wildcard last year!). But, you can’t say they have a “better” offense than Green Bay because they erase their own yardage with turnovers. What jumps out to us is that 350.6 and 5.4 is too low for Green Bay. That’s not a championship offense unless it’s mixed with a fantastic defense. The Packers don’t have a fantastic defense.

DEFENSIVE STATS

Green Bay: 349.0 yards-per-game on 5.4 yards-per-play

Detroit: 353.4 yards-per-game on 5.5 yards-per-play

Basically identical defenses here. Serviceable, but not great. If your offense is lighting up the scoreboard, this is enough to go the distance. If not, you’re helping a team with a smart quarterback beat you (which happened to both of these last year at the hands of Eli Manning and Drew Brees respectively).

MOST RECENT BOXES

INDIANAPOLIS 35, DETROIT 33

Total Yardage: Indianapolis 459, Detroit 451

Rushing Yards: Indianapolis 87, Detroit 138

Passing Stats: Indianapolis 24-54-3-372, Detroit 27-46-1-313

Turnovers: Indianapolis 3, Detroit 1

Third Downs: Indianapolis 27%, Detroit 35%

Vegas Line: Detroit by 6, total of 51

The Lions may still be reeling from this one. They had victory in hand, but relaxed too soon on offense before the defense let Andrew Luck break their hearts in the final seconds. Detroit plays thrillers because of an attraction for dramatics at the expense of discipline. Teams like this tend toward imploding over time, because the head coach loses control of the various personalities. That just gets magnified in close losses, which Detroit’s had a few of this year (including three straight of late!)

GREEN BAY 23, MINNESOTA 14

Total Yardage: Minnesota 359, Green Bay 435

Rushing Yards: Minnesota 240, Green Bay 152

Passing Stats: Minnesota 12-25-2-119, Green Bay 27-35-1-283

Turnovers: Minnesota 2, Green Bay 1

Third Downs: Minnesota 50%, Green Bay 56%

Vegas Line: Green Bay by 7.5, total of 46

Mostly a stellar offensive game, though they probably should have scored more than 23 points with that production. Defense was a disappointment because they couldn’t handle Peterson. If not for two picks of Christian Ponder, this might have been a nailbiter loss. Good…but not good enough if you want to keep doing commercials for insurance and wall posters.

BEST EXPECTATION

A typical Detroit game is going to come down to turnovers and fourth quarter maturity. If the Lions have their heads on straight, then this is another thriller…maybe even an upset. But, if the team is still reeling from last week’s gut punch from the Colts…then this could be the night where 2012 blows up in their face. Aaron Rodgers knows how to exploit weakness when he sees it. Detroit’s mindset is the key. JIM HURLEY has been working with his sources to get the best possible read on that factor.

NETWORK’S full Sunday slate is available for purchase right here at this website. Make a few clicks and have your credit card handy to see if Lions-Packers made the cut. If you have any questions, call our office at 1-800-323-4453. We’re now less than a week away from the start of the college bowls. Lock in TODAY for the rest of football!

Back with you tomorrow to preview the long awaited Houston-New England game on Monday Night Football. Are the next Super Bowl teams playing in the Sunday and Monday Nighters? The man with all the answers in the world of Las Vegas football betting is JIM HURLEY!

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