Green Bay Packers vs Detroit Lions
Sunday 31st December 6:00pm (UK Time)
- Winner: Packers 12/5, Lions 1/3
Both these teams have been eliminated from playoff contention but that doesn’t mean the game will be dull at all. The Lions, eliminated last week, can finish their season 9-7 with a win to give them a positive record this season and something to build off for next year. In previous years a 9-7 mark may have been enough to make the post-season, but in an ultra-competitive NFC it is looking like 11 wins will be needed to reach it this year. The Lions know what they need to improve their team over the offseason, making a chain moving running back their top priority.
The Packers have had a tough year after a major injury to quarterback Aaron Rodgers hampered their potential playoff chances. Rodgers rushed his return to the game and ended up throwing three picks to the Panthers to seal the team’s fate and see them at 7-8 after a shut-out loss to the Vikings last week. If the team can get back to 8-8 for the season then that would mark a good save from the team’s coaching staff and backup Brett Hundley.
The game will come down to Matthew Stafford, and if he has success picking apart the Packers’ flawed pass defence then the game could be over quickly. The Lions are a much better team playing at home indoors, something the Packers aren’t used to. Packers quarterback Brett Hundley hasn’t had to play in a shootout yet, so questions would arise as to whether he can keep up with someone of Stafford’s ability. That said, the Lions seem incapable of winning a game easily and like to keep their fans clued in until the final whistle.
Sports.net Top Tip
- Lions winning margin 13-18: 10/3
Carolina Panthers vs Atlanta Falcons
Sunday 31st December 9:25pm (UK Time)
- Winner: Panthers 33/20 Falcons 1/2
The Panthers have already made the postseason, but a win could see them secure a division championship for the first time since going to the Superbowl a few years ago. To do so they must beat the Falcons and hope that the Saints slip up against fellow division foes Tampa Bay. Winning this week could also provide a double division whammy, as the Falcons must win if they want to guarantee the final wildcard spot. A lot of the credit for the team turning their season around must come down to quarterback Cam Newton and what he has been able to do with little to no weapons on offense.
It’s simple for the Falcons this week; win and they’re in the playoffs. They can still make the postseason with a loss should the Seahawks also lose to the Cardinals. The Falcons haven’t been anywhere near as dominant as they were last year, largely due to last year’s offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan departing to become the head coach in San Francisco. From that the offense has become bogged down and lost its identity, having a poor running game and missing the big plays that were a staple of the team last year. The defence is still high flying and can stifle opposing offenses, but that becomes difficult if they are on the field for so much of the game.
This game rests heavily on the shoulders of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. If he can make the throws and keep the ball moving against the Panthers’ stout defence, then they can get far enough ahead to put the game out of reach. The Falcons have the advantage of playing at home in their dome, something the Panthers aren’t used to playing in.
Sports.net Top Tip
- Falcons first to 10 points - 8/13
*Please note, odds may fluctuate.