Detroit Lions (10-4 SU, 7-7 ATS) vs. Chicago Bears (5-9 SU, 5-9 ATS)
NFL Football Week 16
Date and Time: December 21 1pm ET
Where: Soldier Field
by Evergreen, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: DET -8/CHI +8
Over/Under Total: 45
Bet your Lions/Bears pick at BetOnline Sportsbook and deposit at least $50 and get a 50% BONUS of up to $1000 FREE. Great In-Game betting and more check them out!
With just a couple of regular season games left on the schedule, matchups this time of year often mean more to one team than the other. One such matchup takes place this weekend when the Detroit Lions head to Chicago to take on the Bears. The Lions are locked with the Packers atop the NFC North and it is possible that an 11-5 team sits out the NFC playoffs so every win is paramount for Detroit. Chicago has fallen about as far as they have in recent memory and things have gotten so bad that Jay Cutler will ride the pine this weekend as the Bears are doing anything to change their run of poor play.
Given the news that Jimmy Clausen will make the start at quarterback, the online betting sites have seen a bit of line movement but the Lions are most commonly an eight point favorite. You can find 8.5 and 9 point lines out there as news of Cutlers benching makes its way through the betting world and the over/under total for the game is running anywhere from 44.5 to 46. The Lions have won eight of their last eleven games against the spread against division opponents but have just two ATS wins in the road in their last nine such games. Chicago is 0-4 ATS against teams with a winning record and might not be able to improve on that given the favorite is 5-2 against the spread in the last seven games between the teams.
I guess the breakdown really starts with what Clausen brings to the table. He will be making his first start since the 2010-11 season when he was with the Carolina Panthers. Clausen had three touchdowns and nine interceptions in 13 games that season and has spent his time as a back-up ever since. He has some pretty fantastic skill players around him but faces the leagues best defense in many categories. There is even the rumor floating around that Clausen is being thrown to the wolves this week in order to preserve Cutlers body and ego against a vicious opponent.
Detroit leads the NFL in points allowed at 17 per week and also leads in rush defense, allowing just 63 yards per game. They can be thrown on a bit but their pass rush is plenty capable and they probably dont mind when teams abandon the run. I cant imagine the Bears allowing Clausen to throw it all day so expect a lot of early work for Matt Forte in the run game. Forte is a legit Offensive MVP candidate with 1,677 total yards and 9 touchdowns entering the week but managed just six yards on five carries when these clubs squared off on Thanksgiving Day.
Detroit has had some injury and underperformance issues throughout the year on offense but look to get moving against the 32nd ranked defense, allowing 29.2 points per game. Matthew Stafford had 390 yards passing with two touchdowns on Thanksgiving, finding Calvin Johnson with both scoring passes. Joique Bell has two rushing scores and the Lions cruised to a 34-17 win. That game was in Detroit but it is hard to image that much will change in Soldier Field, especially since Chicago is just 2-5 at home this year.
There really isnt a single thing to point to that says the Bears will win this game. They are a struggling defense tasked with defending top playmakers and their own offense is a big question mark up against a premier defense. Detroit has had trouble scoring points at times this year but that has been against good defenses and the Lions are as healthy as they have been all year. They are also much more motivated than their opponent with their playoff life and seeding on the line each week. The best chance the Bears have is to utilize Forte in the run and pass game but DeAndre Levy will be waiting to stop Forte at every turn. Levy is a dark horse defensive MVP candidate with 104 tackles, 45 more than anyone else on Detroit.
Clausen surely has options with Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett performing well despite the team struggles and maybe he has some chemistry with Marquess Wilson from second team practices but Chicago is going to struggle to move the ball. They will likely struggle to score as well. Detroit managed just 16 points against Minnesota last weekend but the Vikings are a solid defense and Stafford did have a clean game. If Detroit runs the ball and hits Megatron and Golden Tate when necessary, there will be little the Bears can do to keep them from getting 24 points. I dont see the Bears cracking 13, so Im taking the Lions and laying the eight points.
Evergreens Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Detroit