Should NFL Bettors Believe In Detroit Lions Heading Into Week 2 At Green Bay Packers?

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Do you trust the process or do you trust the Detroit Lions’ propensity to blow fourth-quarter leads?

That’s the question running through the minds of Michigan sports gamblers as the Lions head into Week 2 of the NFL season as consensus 6-point underdogs at the Green Bay Packers’ home field.

The process wonks can tell themselves that one of the simplest and most time-tested NFL betting strategies is to short overreactions to Week 1 results, and Lions-Packers is almost tailor made for the occasion. Green Bay racked up 43 points in last Sunday’s win against the Minnesota Vikings, with quarterback Aaron Rodgers throwing for 364 total yards and four touchdowns. But how much of the Packers’ offensive explosion should be attributed to Minnesota’s defensive shortcomings? Meanwhile, the Lions controlled the majority of last week’s loss to the Chicago Bears, and perhaps the 23-6 lead they carried into the fourth quarter is more indicative of the team’s quality than the string of errors that led to their collapse.

If oddsmakers and the betting public are overestimating the Packers and biting too hard on the enduring trope of the hapless Lions, then Detroit +6 starts to look like a value bet in Week 2.

Then again, the Lions did blow the game against the Bears, and under head coach Matt Patricia — who has only coached Detroit for 33 contests — the team has now lost 11 games that they led after three quarters. Versus Chicago, Lions fans were pulling their hair out over several of Patricia’s fourth-quarter decisions.

He tried to milk the clock by emphasizing the Lions’ running game; he insisted on playing man-to-man defensive coverage after Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky struggled against zone coverage earlier in the game; and, perhaps most crucially, Patricia had Casey Prater attempt a 55-yard field goal with the Lions up 10 points and 4:08 left to play. Prater missed the long attempt and the Bears gained field position for a quick touchdown, but even if he had made it, Chicago still would have only needed two touchdowns to take the lead.

Lions players, of course, also contributed to the loss. Prater missed a difficult kick, but it wasn’t out of reach for the NFL record-holder for longest made field goal. Quarterback Matt Stafford took a yardage-losing sack on second-down that pushed Prater’s field goal attempt farther back two plays later. Rookie running back D’Andre Swift dropped a go-ahead touchdown pass in the end zone with six seconds left.

Add it all up, and it’s no wonder why Lions diehards familiar with this script might not be as excited to sweat out the value bet some gamblers may see in taking Detroit as six-point underdogs in Green Bay.

Consistent Odds At Different Michigan Sportsbooks

As the Wolverine State awaits the launch of mobile gambling, potentially later this year, bettor options for legal sports gambling remain limited to retail sportsbooks at the three commercial casinos in Detroit and the handful of tribal casinos in the state that have already opened sports wagering operations. Among the usual suspects, there’s no variation in the point spread for Lions-Packers:

  • BetMGM, MGM Grand Detroit: Packers -6
  • FanDuel, MotorCity Casino Hotel: Packers -6
  • BetRivers, Little River Casino: Packers -6
  • BetAmerica, Island Resort & Casino: Packers -6

Likewise, all four books share the same total points over/under of 49.5. There are some opportunities to shop around for moneyline bets, as BetRivers is offering the lowest payout on a Lions win (+210) and more favorable odds for a Packers victory (-245) than other sportsbooks, which have Detroit at +220 and Green Bay from -263 to -280. Of course, until online gaming is available, shopping around in Michigan means being willing to drive from Detroit to Western Michigan to the Upper Peninsula, and unless you’re planning on making a huge bet, the difference in winnings from these odds probably won’t be enough to offset the gas costs of criss-crossing the state by car.

There is, however, one new offering at FanDuel that combines the approaches of the process-oriented bettor and the seemingly endless misery of Lions fandom: The sportsbook’s in-game parlays allow you to bet the half-time result and the full-time result, with the Lions ahead at halftime and Packers ahead at the end of the game wager paying +650.

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Rafe Bartholomew

Rafe has worked as an editor and writer at Harper's Magazine, Grantland, Eater, and The Athletic. He is a co-author of the New York Times Bestselling book Basketball: A Love Story and the author of two other books, Pacific Rims and Two and Two.

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