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We’ve reached a point in the NFL season that, for some teams, is more dire than a high school senior’s age-old quest to seal the deal on prom night, and that’s the bubble teams fighting for a chance to enter the postseason. This week, we’ve got a game between the Lions and the Panthers, two teams that are on the bubble with slight chances to make it to the playoffs if they can win some games at the end of this season, and that winning has to start now. The Lions are 7-7 right now, sitting second in their division behind the Minnesota Vikings (a team they beat two weeks ago), who have already clinched their spot in the postseason. Detroit’s football this season has been more confusing than a girl with pronouns in her Instagram bio reposting Trump tweets. They’ve beaten teams no one expected them to, and kept it close against great squads like the Bills and Dolphins, but they’ve also gotten embarrassed by middle of the road teams like the Patriots. It hasn’t made sense, but they’ve looked strong recently, as their offense seems to have found a groove. The Panthers have a much better chance at a playoff spot as they’re second in their division to Tom Brady and the Buccaneers, living proof that women can absolutely force a man to fall from greatness. Just a game behind Tampa Bay, the Panthers bounce back and forth between a team that looks like they might be able to squeak by and utter embarrassment to the NFL as a whole. With it being absolutely essential to string together some wins as the season ends, though, they shouldn’t be counted out of any game from here on out.
Vegas has the Lions as 2.5 point away-team favorites, which is a line that basically tells us that, while the Lions should win this game, they’ve demonstrated they have every capability of blowing it against a lesser team. When Jared Goff and Amon-Ra St. Brown are connecting in the air, and the committee of running backs hit their holes, it’s a dangerous offense that can make up for a defense that ranks among the bottom of NFL teams. The Panthers will be starting Sam Darnold this week, a guy that’s been a bigger let down than the final season of Game of Thrones. Darnold won’t do anything spectacular through the air, and since losing Christian McCaffrey, the Panthers ground game hasn’t been anything to talk about. That means that the only way the Panthers can truly win this week is if the Lions play like postseason Clayton Kershaw: absolutely choke. They’ve got a ton of talent to surround Jared Goff’s mediocrity, and despite a pretty garbage defense, the Panthers won’t have enough to take advantage of it offensively. With home field advantage, Carolina could make it a closer game than Detroit fans would like, but the Lions have too much potential to sell this game. Take the Lions money-line to get your risk free bet from FanDuel!