Detroit Lions (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. Chicago Bears (0-3 SU, 0-3 ATS)
NFL Week 4
Date/Time: Sunday, October 2, 2016 at 1PM EST
Where: Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois
by Scott, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: DET -3/CHI +3
Over/Under Total: 46.5
The Detroit Lions will come to Soldier Field on Sunday for an NFC North matchup with the Chicago Bears. It didn’t go that well for the Bears in a Sunday night loss to the Dallas Cowboys, 31-17. They are now 0-3 and need to have something good happen quickly. Detroit has followed a week one road win over the Colts with two straight losses. On Sunday, they lost 34-27 to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. After falling behind 31-3, they made a comeback, only to come up short at the end. They look to even things up at 2-2 this week on the road.
The Lions scored an interesting week one win, when they outslugged the Colts on the road with a 39-35 win. They followed that with a strange result at home in a 16-15 loss to the Titans on a late Tennessee touchdown. Against Green Bay, they stunk out the joint in the first half, before making a spirited late run at the win that came up short. So far this season, we’ve seen both the offense and defense play with wide-ranging form, even within the same game.
Detroit’s aerial attack looks good and Matthew Stafford passed for 385 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday. One of the league’s big surprises is the performance of Marvin Jones, who had 6 catches for 205 yards and two touchdowns against the Packers. Tight end Eric Ebron is showing flashes, Anquan Boldin has caught two TDs, Theo Reddick is a versatile weapon, and when Golden Tate gets rolling, it will really help. The loss of Ameer Abdullah for the foreseeable future is bad for the run-game, but Stafford has a lot of good options forming. Again, they need to be more consistent. Sometimes, they’re stagnant and other times they look like a high-flying bunch. And trying to guess what you’re getting from week-to-week without rhyme or reason can be a real task.
Those same consistency issues are plaguing the Detroit defense. In the second half against Indy and the first half against Green Bay, they were awful. Other than that, they’ve been pretty good. But those parts of games where the opposing offense is hitting the scoreboard with regularity is a lot for the offense to overcome. They were resolute against the Colts to a certain degree and kept the Titans under control, but those lapses are going to be costly if they continue. After getting one turnover in three games, maybe they can put a bigger imprint on this game. And like Chicago, they’re dealing with issues on this side of the ball, with Ziggy Ansah and DeWayne Levy out indefinitely. That puts a major hurt on this defense’s ability to make key plays and it showed against the Packers on Sunday.
Injuries have really put a hurt on the Bears, a team that looked problematic even at full-power personnel-wise. Losing Matt Forte to free agency didn’t help, either, as the Bears ground-game has ground to a halt. And the Chicago aerial attack is not able to pick up the slack. QB Jay Cutler missed last week with a thumb injury and coach Fox is saying there’s no guarantee he will pull Brian Hoyer when Cutler is cleared. Hoyer threw for an impressive-looking 317 yards on Sunday, with a lot of that coming late after the Cowboys had more or less put the game away.
After seeing injuries decimate the Chicago “D,” they’re seeing similar misfortune on the other side of the ball. In addition to Cutler, starting RB Jeremy Langford is out for a while, with Ka’Deem Carey also banged-up. They will now depend on rookie Jordan Howard, but this wasn’t a team that has a plentiful backfield after Forte left and now they’re down to scraps. Howard peeled off a 36-yard run and combined with an impressive training camp, maybe there’s some hope there.
Unfortunately for the Chicago Bears defense, the injury list looks more like the starting defense than the actual starting defensive lineup. The list is almost too numerous to name. It looked like a group that could hit its stride, but they weren’t able to field anything resembling what they had in mind. And as a result, we’re seeing a lot of guys getting run past in this group. Running backs are eating up this bunch and though that’s not the Lions’ bread-and-butter, one would still figure they can get business done on Sunday.
One element of hope for Chicago is if they could somehow fire up their aerial attack. Cutler or Hoyer can both put up a lot of yards under the right conditions. Some tools are there with Alshon Jeffery, Eddie Royal, and Kevin White. Zach Miller had a big game on Sunday night. But after scoring 14, 14, and 17 points to open the season, they’re going to need a gust of positivity. Some teams over the years have had just that happen at home against Detroit, so maybe the Bears can catch a break.
Chicago seems ill-equipped to battle through these issues. There seems to be a disconnect on this team. The coaches aren’t getting through. Players are under-performing critically. And despite some good effort here and there, it looks like a deflated unit. At 0-3, the season is already getting into a weird zone and they need to make something happen quickly. We’ve seen other bad Bears teams in recent seasons spring to life before. With Detroit coming into town with issues of their own, maybe the Bears can come up with something. At home, they’ve lost 12 of their last 13, so it’s unclear if home-field is even an advantage at this point. It’s easy to envision a more emotional and invested Detroit team getting the win and cover over a sideways Bears team that looks to be spiraling. But maybe the high-profile nature of their defeats could lead to some funny stuff with the lines, as getting people to bet on the Bears right now might be hard. It’s almost too easy of a pick, but I’m taking Detroit.
Scott's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m betting on the Detroit Lions minus 3 points.
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