Favored Lions Look To Keep Their Playoff Hopes Intact At Carolina

The Lions look to continue their remarkable comeback from the verge of irrelevance against a team with similar designs.

Riding a three-game winning streak and having won six of their last seven, the Lions have shrunk their playoff odds from +7500 at DraftKings six weeks ago to +125 entering Saturday’s 1 p.m. game at Bank of America Stadium. The 7-7 Lions, who are 10-4 against the spread this season, are 2.5-point road favorites vs. the 5-9 Carolina Panthers.

Carolina, which also has playoff designs because it plays in the NFC South, offers an interesting challenge. The Panthers fired their coach, traded Christian McCaffrey, and released Baker Mayfield this season, but they still have a 20% chance to make the playoffs, according to FiveThirtyEight.com. The projection site puts the Lions’ playoff odds at 40%. DraftKings’ +125 odds on Detroit imply a probability of 44.4%, so the hold isn’t outlandish.

Lions a respected road favorite

This game has held steady at Lions -2.5 all week, while the total (43.5 points) has ticked down a point from where it opened. Bettors have jumped fully on the Lions’ bandwagon at this point, with 74% of the bets and 78% of the handle at DraftKings coming in on Detroit as of Thursday afternoon.

Carolina has not been particularly effective at home, going 4-9 ATS there in its last 13 games.

Carolina is 4-4 straight-up since interim head coach Steve Wilks took over for Matt Rhule back in October and has gone 3-1 ATS at home. Carolina likes to run the ball even without McCaffrey, though the Steelers may have provided the blueprint to slow them down, as they held them to 21 yards on 16 carries in an 8-point win last week.

The Lions’ run defense was among the worst in the NFL early in the season, but they have turned that trend around. The Lions held the Minnesota Vikings to just 22 rushing yards and, before that, the New York Jets to just 50.

Player prop to consider

Kalif Raymond was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week after a key punt return for a touchdown against the Jets last week, and the Lions should look to keep him active in their offense as well. He has hit the receiving yards over in seven of his last nine games.

DraftKings also is offering him at +600 to score a touchdown, which might be a decent price considering his more prominent role in the offense lately and his ability to make big plays on special teams.

Photo: Vincent Carchietta/USA TODAY

Author: Justin King