The Lions are tied with the Bears, oh my!
Well…they’re not really tied of course. The Week 10 game at Soldier Field hasn’t kicked-off yet. And the NFC North rivals aren’t even tied in the Las Vegas odds, not technically with the Lions handicapped at (+3) on the point spread.
But if a FG’s advantage is about what home field gives an NFL team, then it is safe to say that the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions are viewed as about the same sized-commodities in Sin City.
That’s a mild surprise, maybe even a shocker. The gambling community values quarterbacks most of all in the National Football League, and Matt Stafford of Detroit is a well-respected passer. Mitch Trubisky of Chicago is a national laughingstock – something that happens to all unorthodox QBs whenever they have a bad couple of games in a row.
But the weather in Chicago won’t be friendly to a pass-happy offense like Detroit’s. Cold and gusting wind will portend late-Sunday snow in the Windy City, and potentially hand a victory to the Monsters of the Midway if the visiting Lions don’t play their cards exactly right.
Who: Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears
When: Sunday, November 10th, 1 PM EST
Where: Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
Lines: Detroit (+3) at Chicago (-3) / O/U Total: (41)
Chicago’s vaunted defense may be having lots of problems, but Lake Michigan could cause problems for Matthew Stafford as the 3-4-1 Lions visit the Bears this Sunday. The hosts have lost 4 straight games to drop to 3-5 after a 22-14 loss last week in Philadelphia, and the loser of this one will likely have to start thinking about next year. Chi-Town won both meetings in this match-up last season after the Lions went 9-1 in the rivalry over 5 previous seasons.
Detroit’s passing game ranks 3rd in the NFL with 312.4 YPG. Stafford is putting up numbers that mirror his 2011 season, in which he threw for 5,038 yards and 41 TD’s. His 106 QBR is the highest of his career, and puts him on pace to set a franchise record. Stafford will play his 150th game in his career on Sunday, and already holds the NFL record for passing yards and completions through 150 games.
Kenny Golladay is emerging as one of the best receivers in the game this season, racking up 640 yards and 7 touchdowns. Marvin Jones is also still getting it done, leading the team with 42 receptions. Both are on pace for 1,000-yard seasons and double digit touchdowns.
But there’s more to the game of pigskin than throwing the ball around. Detroit has been prone to penalties and turnovers, plagued by bad calls, and ruined by inconsistent defense. It’s a classic scenario where a team’s flashy finesse style makes fans think they ought to be winning more often, leading to frustration and coach-bashing that may or may not be justified.
Speaking of coaches, Matt Nagy is starting to run the ball a little bit more in an attempt to extend some drives and help his Bears out of a slump. While David Montgomery of Chicago is starting to look like an every-down back, he had a rough time against the stout Eagles run defense last week. The rookie did punch in 2 touchdowns to bring his season total to 5, but averaged just 2.9 YPC on 14 carries. Detroit’s run defense has been rhymes-with-bliss poor at times, though, and the RB could see more daylight soon.
Obviously the forbidding weather will tend to hurt the pass-first visitors more than the Bears. But there could also be subtle factors in the kicking game that will affect the outcome.
2 of the best in the league will be returning kicks. Both teams will have their hands full trying to contain kick returns if the PKs cannot get it into the end zone and earn touchbacks. There have only been 4 kick return touchdowns in the NFL this season, and both Cordarrelle Patterson of the Bears and Jamal Agnew of the Lions are on that short list.
Finally, there’s Trubisky to worry about – a player who is trashed to a degree out-of-proportion to his actual issues on the field. The controversial QB was well below-par vs Philadelphia, but he’s just not the type of player who’s going to thrive when the tailbacks are spinning wheels. Ironically, though, Trubisky had a nice outing against New Orleans 2 games ago despite Chicago’s ground game looking even worse.
I’m fond of the Over (41) in this NFL scrum, and not just because the line has shrunk with the betting action as weather forecasts pinpoint what Sunday’s conditions will be.
Detroit is a high-powered and fast offense if nothing else, and the Lions will probably hurt the Bears with the short passing game on early drives. Chicago can fight back with the run and the occasional downfield pass, and Trubisky will finally get a chance to help convert some 3rd-and-short down & distances with his legs as well as his arm.
The Bears know how to score points on a frigid day, and the Lions know how to score points…period.
Take the Over (41) for a winner at Soldier Field.