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Rodgers-less Packers visit Lions on Thursday
By: Brian Graham - StatFox
Published: 11/28/2013  at  5:20:00 AM
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GREEN BAY PACKERS (5-5-1)
at DETROIT LIONS (6-5)

Kickoff: Thursday, 12:30 p.m. ET
Line: Detroit -6, Total: 49.5

The Packers try to win for the first time in November when they visit the slumping Lions on Thanksgiving.

Green Bay, which is 0-3-1 SU (0-4 ATS) this month, will still be without QB Aaron Rodgers (collarbone), and will turn the offense over to Matt Flynn, who threw for 480 yards and 6 TD in his lone NFL win in 2011 versus Detroit. The Lions have lost two straight SU and are 0-3 ATS in their past three home games. These teams played a turnover-free contest in Week 5, resulting in a 22-9 win for the Packers who outrushed the Lions 180-64. That added to Green Bay's dominant 15-1 record (12-4 ATS) in this series since December 2005. Although the Packers are 9-24 ATS versus defenses allowing 7+ passing YPA in the second half of the season since 1992, Detroit is 1-14 ATS versus excellent passing teams with a completion pct. of 64% or better over the past three seasons. Both teams are dealing with several injuries, the most notable being on defense with Packers LBs Nick Perry (foot) and Jamari Lattimore (quad), and Lions CB Chris Houston (foot) and DE Israel Idonije (knee) also considered questionable for Thursday's matchup.

Can the Packers win on the road without Aaron Rodgers? For the answer, connect to NFL Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 season and playoffs. The experts are surging in NFL Best Bets, combining for a 59% ATS record (37-26-6) over the past five weeks. StatFox Brian has a 63% ATS (15-9-2) mark over the past six weeks, and StatFox Gary had his fifth perfect week in NFL Best Bets with a 3-0 ATS mark in Week 12. StatFox Scott went 3-1 ATS in Week 12 and is 60% ATS (18-12-1) in NFL Best Bets since Week 4.

Packers QB Matt Flynn played pretty well in relief of Scott Tolzien last week, completing 21-of-36 throws for 218 yards, 1 TD and 0 INT. Eight Packers receivers saw multiple targets in that tie game, with WR James Jones posting a team-high seven catches for 80 yards. Jones was also the star receiver in the Week 5 win over the Lions, gaining 127 yards on just four catches (31.8 avg.), which included an 83-yard touchdown. Although the Packers are known for their passing offense that ranks fifth in the NFL with 284.5 YPG, they also rank fifth in rushing offense with 139.9 YPG. Rookie RB Eddie Lacy has compiled 806 yards on 4.1 YPC, posting his third 100-yard effort last week with 110 yards on 25 carries (4.4 YPC) and a touchdown. He also caught a season-high six passes for 48 more yards. Lacy ran for 99 yards on 23 carries (4.3 YPC) in the Oct. 6 victory over Detroit. Heading into last week's game, Green Bay's defense had been pretty effective in stopping the run, ranking tied for 12th in the league with 103.8 YPG allowed. But the Vikings RB duo of Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart combined for 237 yards on 40 carries (5.9 YPC) at Lambeau Field last week. The Packers' pass defense has been poor all season, surrendering 244.2 passing YPG (20th in NFL) with 19 TD and just 4 INT. Although the red zone defense has been average (54%, T-14th in league), the Packers' third-down defense has been strong (36%, 10th in NFL). Green Bay needs to make more big plays though, forcing just five turnovers in the past eight games combined.

The Lions offense has racked up 412.1 total YPG (5th in league), and its NFL-best 86% Goal To Go efficiency has helped them score 26.0 PPG (7th in league). QB Matthew Stafford leads the NFL in pass attempts with 42.3 per game, leading to 3,495 passing yards (7.5 YPA), 24 TD and 12 INT, eight of which have come in the past four games. His top target remains the incomparable WR Calvin Johnson (1,198 rec. yards, 11 TD), who has something to prove after his lost fumble late last week sealed the victory for the Buccaneers. Johnson missed the Week 5 meeting in Green Bay, but in his past three games against the Packers, he has exploded for 505 yards (168.3 YPG) on 26 catches (19.4 avg.) and a pair of touchdowns. But the Lions can also run the football with 124.8 rushing YPG on 4.8 YPC over their past four games. RB Reggie Bush leads the team with 737 yards (4.6 YPC) on the ground, and also has 383 yards on 40 catches. Detroit is a subpar defensive team, ranking 22nd in the NFL in both scoring defense (25.2 PPG) and total defense (364.8 YPG), which is strange considering they are on the field for just 28:32 (5th-fewest in league) and rank third in the NFL in third-down defense (31%) and fourth in red zone defense (40%). But the Lions have done a poor job of forcing turnovers with just one takeaway in the past five games combined.

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