Was the New York Jets upsetting the Buffalo Bills as 10.5-point underdogs the most shocking result of Week 9? The fact that it's a legitimate question tells you how mind-blowing this NFL season has become. And as crazy as it sounds, I was much more surprised by what transpired in Detroit. It would be an understatement to say the Packers are playing below expectations. Since defeating the Bears 27-10 in the second week of the season, Green Bay is a disastrous 0-5 ATS as a favorite. Sunday's game against the Lions was the perfect opportunity for Aaron Rodgers to "get right," but from the very first snap, it went all wrong.
Upsets happen in the NFL. It wasn't that Green Bay squandered another opportunity to inject life into its season, but it was more the realization that it still hasn't hit rock bottom yet. There is a reason Rodgers didn't recreate his "relax" speech from 2014 after throwing three red-zone interceptions Sunday, and that's because he has been around long enough to understand it's only going to get worse from here. The trade deadline has passed, and there doesn't appear to be any immediate fixes for an offense that mustered only nine points against one of the worst defenses in the NFL.
Green Bay is a fade this week as they head home to host the Dallas Cowboys. The fact that they are 5.5-point home dogs might give bettors sticker shock, but it's clear after Sunday the Pack belongs on the clearance rack. The market still needs to figure out the floor for a team heading for a season-long spiral. That's exactly why I didn't hesitate to lay the road chalk on the Cowboys.
Dallas Cowboys -5.5 at Green Bay Packers
The Dallas Cowboys are coming off a bye, which allowed coach Mike McCarthy two weeks to prepare for his return to Lambeau Field. I don't put much weight on psychological narratives, but Dallas has a significant motivational edge in this game. The on-field matchup heavily favors the 6-2 Cowboys, starting with the league's most disruptive pass rush. Dallas leads the NFL with 33 sacks, and only three teams this year have held the Cowboys to less than four in a game. The Packers are 0-2 when Aaron Rodgers is sacked at least four times, and scored only seven and 10 points in each of those games. Without wideouts who can separate quickly, Rodgers will be a sitting duck for Dan Quinn's aggressive defense.
The best way to beat a pass rush is to run at them. Yet, that doesn't seem like a viable option after A.J. Dillon and Aaron Jones combined for only 49 yards on 20 carries against Detroit's 31st-ranked run defense. That's part of why Sunday's 15-9 loss to the Lions' was so jaw-dropping. In its previous four home games, Detroit allowed an average of 38 points per game. The Carson Wentz-led Commanders were the only team that failed to score at least 30 on the Lions, and even their 27 points were triple Green Bay's output. The Packers' offense might be beyond repair, and I certainly don't see it getting fixed against Dallas this Sunday.
The Cowboys' offense has ranked fifth in the NFL in EPA per play since Dak Prescott's return, and the emergence of Tony Pollard has me confident they can score in the 27-31 range against a depleted Packers defense. Green Bay suffered two massive injuries to top pass rusher Rashan Gary and cornerback Eric Stokes. Both will be difficult to overcome. I confidently bet on Dallas because it has the firepower to pull away and win by a wide margin. The Cowboys are coming off consecutive games in which they have covered as 7- and 9.5-point favorites. They are 3-0 ATS in the favorite role and have beaten the number by an average of 11.2 points in those games. Getting them under six points gives us a strong enough edge to warrant a wager.
Stats provided by teamrankings.com and rbsdm (based on 9-10 WP).