Chicago Bears (2-2 SU, 1-3 ATS) vs. Detroit Lions (4-0 SU, 3-0-1 ATS), 8:30 p.m. EST, Week 5 NFL, Monday Night Football, October 10, 2011, Ford Field, Detroit, Mich., TV: ESPN
by Badger, Pro Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Chi +6/DET -6
Over/Under Total: 48
The surprising Detroit Lions will attempt to keep their season of streaks alive on the biggest stage of them all, Monday Night Football, when they host the NFC North rival Chicago Bears at Ford Field in primetime on ESPN.
Another week and another two streaks are on the line for the Lions, a win streak theyd like to keep going and a losing streak they hope to snap.
Detroit has yet to lose in 2011 and kept their current win streak alive at 12 (counting the last four games of last season and the preseason) with another 20-point come from behind victory over the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday, 34-30. The Lions defense returned two interceptions for touchdowns and QB Matthew Stafford threw the go-ahead to Calvin Johnson with just over a minute to play as the Lions came back from being down 27-3 early in the third quarter.
But if the Lions are going to keep the win streak alive it will mean they will have to snap another streak in the process, their current six-game losing streak against the rival Bears. Two weeks after snapping a 13-game losing streak at Minnesota, this week the Lions will try and beat the Bears for the first time since 2007 when Jon Kitna was still taking snaps for Detroit and Brian Griese was calling signals for the Bears.
Da Bears are coming off of a strong victory at home last week against the Carolina Panthers, 34-29. Determined to get the running game going and to limit the wear and tear on QB Jay Cutler, the Bears rode the back of Matt Forte (25 carries, 205 yards, TD) to the victory in a game where the Panthers dominated every stat except the one that matters the one on the scoreboard.
The oddsmakers out in Las Vegas seem to be drinking the Lions kool aid too, setting the opening point spread for this game with Detroit as surprisingly large 6-point favorites at home. Since it opened the number has been all over the board, depending on where you place your wagers. There are a few that have gone up (5Dimes.com) to Lions minus -7, while there are also a few that have dropped the number to minus -5.5, but a large majority of sportsbooks continue to list the Lions as 6-point favorites, so you can move the number in either direction if you shop around.
The over/under total opened at 46.5 and it quickly went up to 48 after just a few hours of it being live, so most of the early money is cascading down on the over thus far.
Most of that early money on the over comes courtesy of the Lions offense, an offense that ranks second in the NFL after four weeks with a 33.8 points per game average. The problem with the Lions offense is that they are very reliant on Stafford and the passing game (301.2 ypg 7th) and sooner or later their lack of a running game (74.5 ypg 29th) is going to catch up to them. In fact, if it werent for all of the jump ball touchdowns from Stafford to Johnson, the Lions might have numbers on offense like the Bears.
Im not saying that because I dont like the Bears offense (okay, maybe a little), but when you look at the numbers the Bears have put up on offense so far this season they are all very average. Most of their yardage numbers are in the middle of the NFL (total yards 307.8 26th; passing 211.5 ypg 25th; rushing 96.2 ypg 20th), but their best stat is the most important one, scoring points, where they rank 13th in the NFL at 23.5 points per game.
But that statistic is deceiving because it wouldnt be as high as it if you took away a few defensive touchdowns and a punt return for a touchdown by Devin Hester.
Defensively the Lions are younger, deeper and probably more talented, but they have been starting to show signs of wear now that the Lions competition is getting better each week. The Lions are giving up an average of 113 yards rushing each week (20th), which is surprising considering the strength of their defense is in the front seven, but that is something you know the Bears will try and exploit. Especially coming off a week where they ran the ball for 224 yards and 7.2 yards per carry average.
The same scenario can be said for the Lions this week, as their passing game will likely try and exploit mismatches in a Bears secondary that is giving up 301.5 yards per game (29th). Overall the Bears do give up a ton of yards (425.8 ypg 31st), but they do seem to tighten once they get in the red zone because they are allowing just 24.5 points per game (20th).
Chicago did win both games in the series last season, but both of them were fourth-quarter comebacks and narrow victories that werent very pretty. The early September game (a 19-14 Bears win as 6.5-point favorites) was the game that knocked out Stafford for the year, and the December game (a 24-20 Bears win as 5-point favorites at Ford Field) spoiled the upset attempt by the Lions led by Drew Stanton.
Going back 10 games the Lions hold a slight 6-4 ATS edge in the series, with a 3-2 ATS edge at home in Ford Field. Seven of the last 10 meetings have gone over the total, including four of the last five in Detroit.
Other betting trends worth noting are the Bears good fortune on Monday Night Football. Chicago is 5-1 ATS in their last six games in primetime. The underdog in this series is a solid 10-4 ATS too. But thats about the only good trends in their favor as they are just 4-10-1 ATS in their last 15 games as a road underdog and 1-6 ATS in their last seven games in October.
The Lions are the exact opposite, 1-4 ATS in their last five MNF games, but 4-0 ATS at home and 4-0-1 ATS in their last five against an NFC North opponent.
The over/under betting trends are mixed, with just as many trends for the under (4-0 in Detroits last four on MNF; 6-2 in Chicagos last eight vs. NFC North) as there are for the over (9-2 in Detroits last 11 home games; 4-1 in last five games head-to-head), so choose wisely.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I still cant understand why the Bears arent getting much respect. The Lions are playing great and are certainly in a groove right now, but Im not sure they are a touchdown better than the Bears yet. Im taking Chicago plus the 6-points.
Additional NFL Football Betting Previews