Chicago Bears (4-9 SU, 6-6-1 ATS) vs. Detroit Lions (7-6 SU, 6-6-1 ATS)
NFL Week 15
Date/Time: Saturday, December 16 at 4:30PM EST
Where: Ford Field
by Evergreen, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CHI +5.5/DET -5.5
Over/Under Total: 44
With just a few weeks left in the NFL season, your team is either busy pushing toward the playoffs or simply trying to see who is in the future plans. Chicago heads to Detroit this weekend with the Bears already in 2018 prep mode at 4-9. They will try to spoil the playoff hopes of the 7-6 Lions who are trying to keep the Ws going despite several injuries across the offensive line. This NFC North battle has produced some very close games over the years with just two of the last ten being decided by more than six points. Detroit is 8-2 over those ten games but have only won five against the spread. The division has been put on notice now that Aaron Rodgers is back to lead the Packers. Detroit can ill-afford to lose this one at home.
Detroit opened the betting as 6 to 6.5 point favorites but that line has moved to 5.5 at just about every online betting site with the over/under set at 44. Chicago will try to buck a trend that has seen them go 4-10 against the spread in their last fourteen games as the visitor. Detroit may be accommodating there given a 1-4 ATS mark in their last five at home. The Bears are 2-5 ATS in their last seven at Ford Field and the Lions havent dropped an ATS decision in their last four against a sub-.500 team. The Sagarin ratings have Chicago ranked 22nd with Detroit at #15 and those computers are predicting a 25-19 Lions win.
Chicago has been relatively happy with the progression of Mitch Trubisky. The first year signal-caller had some heavy reigns on him in his first couple of starts but things have opened up more recently with Trubisky completing 58% of his passes for six touchdowns against four interceptions while compiling a 80.4 QB rating. That isnt earth-shattering by any means but it has been enough for Chicago to see success in the run game and the Bears enter the week 7th on the ground at 124 yards per game. Trubisky is a key part of that rush scheme with 199 yards on 31 scrambles with one score. The offense is 30th in total yards and 29th in points at 17.2 per game but look for Chicago to reach that total and more with Detroit allowing the 5th most points at 25.3 per contest. The Bears will need to stay close, ahead if possible, as their low-power offense will not likely produce a comeback from much more than a ten point deficit.
Detroit occupies the flip side of things as their offense is very productive but the defense is spotty at best. Matt Stafford should be in the MVP conversation with 23 passing touchdowns against 9 interceptions. His MVP consideration should come directly due to the Lions ineptitude in running the ball. Detroit enters the week dead last at 76 rushing yards per week with the duo of Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick accounting for just six touchdowns and neither averaging more than 3.4 yards per carry. It has been Matt Stafford or bust but that has worked out well for the most part with Stafford hitting on 65% completions and both Marvin Jones and Golden Tate have reached the 850 yard mark with 12 touchdowns between them. The offensive line has been decimated by injury with starting tackles Taylor Decker and Corey Robinson both questionable with both depth tackles also a question mark for Saturday. That is going to spell trouble for the run game for sure but the bigger question is Detroits ability to protect the QB. If they cant, it could be a long day against a Chicago defense that is 11th in total yards allowed.
Looking back at Week 11, a 27-24 Detroit win, you can almost see into the future for this weekend. Chicago jumped out to 7-0 and 17-7 leads but the Lions were able to get 299 passing yards and two scores out of Stafford. Chicago shut down the run, allowing just 65 yards on the ground but gained 222 rushing yards themselves. That included 53 rushing yards from Trubisky with both Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen finding the endzone. Trubisky was able to stay turnover-free in the game and another clean performance will go a long way to keeping Chicago in this one. Detroit had just a few more plays from their skill guys and eventually set up Matt Prater for a 52 yards field goal with just over a minute left. Not much has changed since then. Chicagos defense is the best unit on the field this weekend but Stafford and the passing game is the X-factor that could swing the momentum. Chicago is averaging 4.48 yards per carry overall this season, good for 3rd in the league. Detroit is just 20th against the run but the Lions could cruise if they have a solid day of run-stopping.
Ultimately, I see Detroit pulling out a win as they have more playmakers than Chicago. Alongside Jones and Tate, the Lions have a matchup edge with tight end Eric Ebron when he is matched up against a linebacker and Theo Riddick provides many of the same problems when he is catching the ball out of the backfield. Ameer Abdullah is probable after missing a week with a neck injury so Detroit will at least have its full complement of skill position players to use against the 14th ranked Bears defense. Those offensive line injuries are going to limit Detroit however and that is why I think Chicago and the points is the right play. These games have been close for years now and Chicago has the ability to pick on the Detroit weaknesses, even if they lack playmakers beyond Howard and Cohen. Trubisky is playing well enough to get Chicago to 20 points and I think that will be good enough as Detroit stalls at 24. A key turnover or special teams play can always change a game that is expected to be close but I dont think that will be enough for the Bears to pull the outright upset. Look for Detroit to get enough production to stay alive in the playoffs but do not expect a cover.
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