The Detroit Lions (2-3) went into Philadelphia and upset the Eagles last week following a bye, and a win over the Chicago Bears (4-1) here would get the Lions right back into the NFC North race. The Bears are now coming off of a bye, but it came at a bad time for a team that won three games in a row including its last game 41-3, albeit over the lowly Jaguars.
The Bears are -6 favorites with the total set at 47½.
1. Why Detroit will cover the spread: The Lions will cover this spread and even win this game outright if they can pass the ball effectively vs. the great Chicago defense without the benefit of a running game. The Lions have not run the ball well since Jahvid Best went out in the middle of the year last season and it seems pointless to even try to run on the Bears’ top ranked rushing defense. The good news for Detroit though is that Chicago is a more human 15th against the pass and the Lions are one of two NFL teams averaging over 300 passing yards per game at a whopping 319.8 YPG (only the Saints average more). Matthew Stafford’s completion percentage (62.4) and yards per attempt (6.8) are a bit down from last year, but neither figure is terrible.
The one major negative is that Stafford has five interceptions against four touchdown passes. To be fair though, he has just two interceptions since throwing three vs. the Rams on opening week, where St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher knew just about every move his former assistant Jim Schwartz was going to make.
2. Why Chicago will cover the spread: The Bears will cover this spread if they can put pressure on Stafford, which seems easy for a team with 18 sacks so far vs. a team with no threat of a running game. However, Detroit is tied for fifth in the NFL for fewest sacks allowed with nine, a fact made more remarkable because the Lions have not been able to run the ball well all year (21st at 3.9 YPC) and are second behind the Saints in average pass attempts per game (46.2). Another key for the Bears is not turning the ball over on offense, and Jay Cutler has indeed done a much better job of protecting the ball lately with two interceptions in his last three games as opposed to five interceptions in the first two games of the season.
3. Total Talk: We like the Lions to pull the upset here in a lower scoring game than this total would indicate. It is not a stretch that the outcome of this game will determine Detroit’s season, and the Lions got key players back from injury on defense following the bye last week, including safety Louis Delmas getting an interception in his first game of the season. Thus, we could conceivably see vintage (i.e. bad) Cutler here. Also, we think that the Detroit offensive line will hold up well enough for Stafford to throw quick passes, although we don’t really expect the Lions to run up the score either.
4. Betting Trends for BEARS-LIONS: Lovie Smith is just 2-5 ATS coming off of a bye week. The total has gone OVER in 11 of Detroit’s last 13 games on the road. Chicago is 7-1 SU in its last 8 games when playing Detroit.
Detroit 23 – Chicago 20