NFL Point Spread & Preview: Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions

Kurt Boyer

Thanksgiving Day and gambling don’t necessarily seem to mix. There’s still that old stigma of “gambling is immoral,” and on a day where you’re supposed to celebrate the bounty and friendship of the puritans meeting the Native Americans (or rather, 2 disparate groups of Americans deciding to get along for the first time), there could be a few nagging pangs of guilt that go along with visiting the sportsbook’s url.

Certainly we don’t recommend a $500 parlay on the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints. Some NFL odds-makers on the internet wouldn’t allow a bet that big from a new client even if he or she tried. But on the other hand, what if there’s nobody for you and your relatives to cheer for?

The Lions and the Cowboys always play on Thanksgiving. That’s great, but if you’re not a fan of either team (or a fan of the teams they’re playing on Turkey Day) then what to do? There’s nothing more dreary than watching a scrum on TV with nobody to root homeward. All rationalizations aside, quality family time with an NFL game on the TV is not usually spent going, “eh, either team could win. Who cares.”

A small wager can help remedy that. Our “cheering mojo” is easily awoken, so that a 10-dollar bet really produces much more than 10 bucks worth of praying, pulling and hoping. All it takes is a dirty hit or a seemingly biased referee’s call that benefits the opposing team somehow, and a small amount at stake won’t seem to matter compared to the principle of the thing. “I’m not losin’ my holiday bet thanks to those crooked zebras!”

Of course, the best way to ensure that you succeed in a cash wager is to pick the right franchise, on the right week, in the right market. To win your pick along with some well-earned drumsticks and stuffing takes an appreciation for Thanksgiving Day trends as well as an accurate analysis of the 2 squads.

Let’s get to it.

Who: Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions

When: Thursday (Thanksgiving Day), November 22nd, 12:30 PM EST

Where: Ford Field, Detroit, MI

Lines: Chicago (-4) at Detroit (+4) / O/U Total: (44.5)

Handicapping Chicago at Detroit: Injury Concern Affects Odds

The Lions are 4-6, having dropped 3 of their last 4 games. The Bears are on a 4-game winning streak, and clobbered Detroit 34-22 in the teams’ most recent meeting in October.

So why is Chicago such a thin favorite – as little as (-3) at some betting books?

Because Mitch Trubisky, the team’s rugged do-it-all quarterback, is injured, and could potentially miss Thursday’s contest:

The Bears didn’t practice Monday coming off their Sunday night victory over the Vikings. But since they are scheduled to play on Thanksgiving, they were required to issue an injury report as if there was practice, and quarterback Mitch Trubisky was listed as having not practiced due to a right shoulder injury. “I’m staying cautiously optimistic, but I can’t make any promises,” head coach Matt Nagy said.

Trubisky was not available for a media session Tuesday, as he did not practice for a second straight day (in what amounts to a walk through practice on a short week), and it is now time for concern. Nagy insists there is no long-term issue and no surgery on the horizon. Trubisky was hit late during a slide by Vikings safety Harrison Smith, drawing a flag. By video review, Trubisky was injured on the play – but not from the blow by Smith. That hit was on the left shoulder. The dive/slide Trubisky made put his throwing shoulder in an outstretched vulnerable position, possibly leading to a stretching of the capsule/labrum or pinching/bruising of the rotator cuff.

The Bears have the unusual turnaround of having played Sunday night game and then traveling Wednesday in advance of Thursday’s early game in Detroit. This timeline doesn’t help the situation.

It’s strange that Trubisky was once considered a liability for the squad, but now he looks like the glue holding an offense together alongside a strong defensive unit. Chase Daniel, the Bears’ backup QB, has not taken a snap all season.

Meanwhile, the Lions have struggled against the Bears on Thanksgiving over the decades, but the team has been doing better on Turkey Day in recent years. The main question is whether the OL can continue to protect Matt Stafford as it did last week against the Carolina Panther while snapping a 3-game skid.

It seems strange to rank Chicago as a more bruising edge-rush defense than Carolina, which boasts the talents of Julius Peppers and other big names in the front-7. But the ‘Cats only managed a single sack and a few hurries in the 20-19 loss at Ford Field.

The Monsters of the Midway are having no such problems on the LOS, sacking opposing QBs almost 2x as many times as the offensive line as allowed Trubisky to be taken down for a loss. Is Daniel going to prove as canny a scrambler as his 2nd-year counterpart? We’ll find out if the starter can’t go.

My Pick for Detroit vs Chicago

The under (44.5) seems promising thanks to the visiting defense, but without the ball-control advantage of Trubisky running the occasional option or just barreling up-field on his own, the unit may show a few cracks vs Stafford.

Instead, I’m liking Detroit to stay on the upswing and cover. If it’s Stafford vs Daniel, then the point spread should be flipped…bookies and the betting public may be distracted by the crush of holiday events and slow on the draw, given the troubling injury report coming out of Chicago’s first practice.

Take the Lions to cover (+4) and win or lose by a FG or a safety.

Read More Like This