Last weekend, the Detroit Lions set fire to a lot of bet slips when they absolutely blew the doors off the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals were double-digit road favorites heading into that Week 15 matchup, and even I couldn’t bring myself to see how that wasn’t going to be a “get-right game” for Arizona against a then one-win Detroit team. With the benefit of seeing some Christmas Day football, the Cardinals are clearly in a tailspin—now losers of three games in a row—but enough visiting with the ghosts of football week’s past, we’re here to talk about the team that knocked off those Cardinals a week ago—or at least the team as it stands to be on the field later today.
Detroit’s going to look like a different football team, plain and simple, and it’s wild to think we’d get here after weeks of wondering out loud if this team could be the best version of itself by simply replacing Jared Goff with one of his backups. No one guy specifically, I don’t think fans cared much if it was David Blough or Tim Boyle to take over under center, but that’s where things were when this team was winless. Now? Goff is playing his best football without this offense’s best weapons, winning two of the last three games against playoff-caliber football teams.
Unfortunately, the Lions are going to be without Goff in Atlanta as he’s on the reserve/COVID list, so the cautionary tale of being careful what you wish for manifests itself in the way of Boyle taking over for last week’s FedEx Air Player of the Week. The same Tim Boyle who mustered up just 77 yards and tossed two interceptions in a Week 11 loss to the Cleveland Browns when Goff was sidelined with an injury. If Goff was playing this week, I think it’s a much different football game than we’re actually going to see—and I can’t believe I’m writing this but against a team like the Falcons, and with the way he’s playing right now, Goff would absolutely make a difference from Tim Boyle.
All that being said, I think the thumb injury suffered by Amani Oruwariye that’s now put him on the injured reserve and ended his 2021 season—because that’s what happens to any promising, developing player on this team this season—is going to be a very big issue for this defense. Oruwariye has been this team’s top corner all year long as Detroit has struggled fielding a healthy cornerback opposite him. Within the past two weeks, the Lions have lost their top two cornerbacks in Oruwariye and rookie standout Jerry Jacobs. Detroit’s so far down their depth chart at cornerback, they pulled safety Will Harris over to play outside corner for 72 snaps last week against Arizona.
So let’s get to the pieces of this week’s same-game parlay, odds courtesy of the fine folks at DraftKings Sportsbook, the official betting partner of SB Nation.
First, I like the Falcons to keep the ball in the air in this one. Detroit looks like a very physical football team this late into the season despite all the injuries and a 2-11-1 record. For the first leg, Matt Ryan OVER 199.5 passing yards. I don’t think the Falcons find much success running the football, so I think they play to their relative strength and that’s a veteran quarterback with a group of talented pass catchers. Somewhat quietly, Kyle Pitts is having a very good rookie season—one of the best seasons for a rookie tight end of all-time—and he’s capable of lining up all over the place in this offense schemed up by Atlanta’s head coach Arthur Smith. He’s a mismatch wherever he is against what’s left of this Lions backend, so I’m adding Kyle Pitts OVER 34.5 receiving yards to the mix—he’s gone over that total for the past three games. And for the finishing touch, some more receiving props, Russell Gage OVER 49.5 receiving yards—a total he’s eclipsed in each of his last four games while getting targeted a healthy 37 times over that same stretch.
Detroit Lions vs. Atlanta Falcons Same-Game Parlay - Week 16
Matt Ryan OVER 199.5 passing yards
Kyle Pitts OVER 34.5 receiving yards
Russell Gage OVER 49.5 receiving yards
3-pick parlay: +130 odds