Detroit Lions (6-9 SU, 6-9 ATS) vs. Chicago Bears (6-9-0 SU, 8-7 ATS)
NFL Week 17
Date/Time: Sunday, January 3, 2016, 1:00 pm EST
Where: Soldier Field, Chicago, Ill.
TV: Fox, DirecTV 706
by Badger, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: DET +1/CHI -1
Over/Under Total: 46
Two NFC North teams stuck at 6-9 and on the outside looking in will play out the finale of their disappointing regular seasons when the Detroit Lions travel to Soldier Field to take on the Chicago Bears in week 17 NFL action on Fox.
The Lions season turned for the worse on the Hail Mary loss to the Packers four weeks ago, but they have been playing well on offense under new coordinator Jim Bob Cooter and come into the finale with a two game win streak. Detroit, who has scored 35 and 32 points in back-to-back wins over New Orleans and the 49ers, has now won five of their last seven in the oh-so close effort to try and turn around an 0-5 start to this year.
Chicago will be looking to put forth back-to-back solid efforts for consecutive weeks going into the finale as well, since they sprung a minor upset on Tampa Bay last week on the road, 26-21. But back-to-back wins have been rare this season for the Bears, which is why Sundays last home game could very well be the last one for multiple players on both sides of the ball as the Bears go into full rebuilding mode in the offseason.
When this divisional clash first went up on the board out in Las Vegas and offshore, most sportsbooks opened with Chicago as modest 1.5-point favorites at home. Interestingly, with the early steam on the Lions some of the offshore sportbooks has dropped the point spread all the way down to a pick. However, a large majority of books currently sit right in the middle with the Bears as 1-point favorites at midweek.
The over/under total opened at 46.5 and has also seen its fair share of a drop, going down to 46 quickly and currently all the way down to 45.5 or 45 at some sportsbooks.
As mentioned, Detroit has been playing strong behind the play-calling of Cooter on offense, but the finale in the cold and elements outside on Soldier Field will be an interesting twist because the Lions havent played outside of a dome since their November 15 upset of the Packers at Lambeau, 18-13. The Bears strength on defense is against the pass, allowing just 221 yards a game (4th in NFL), so Cooter and the Lions may struggle if they have to face a lot of long third downs in this game.
The most frustrating part of the Bears season this year has to be the inconsistency of the offense under another new coordinator Adam Case. Not only have the Bears struggled with injuries to their two biggest playmakers in Matt Forte and Alshon Jeffery, but just about every player across the board has had a hard time adjusting to the new scheme and the end result has been only six wins. Case pulled a page out of the old Bears playbook from the Walter Payton era in last weeks victory, running the ball 39 times in an old-school run-heavy game plan to control the clock. It produced, so the Lions defense can expect to see a lot of downhill runs by Forte, Jeremy Langford and KaDeem Carey.
Detroit won the first meeting between these two division rivals way back in October, 37-34 in overtime at Ford Field. It was the fifth straight victory for the Lions in the series with the Bears, as they have enjoyed a nice little run of dominance that includes, 20-14 and 21-19, wins in their last two visits to Soldier Field. The Bears have covered the point spread in two straight head-to-heads, but overall the Lions enjoy an advantage there too going 8-3 ATS over the years.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The weather looks like it will be in the low 30s and sunny, so I dont expect it to have a large impact on the game. So Im going to play against the steam and betting trends to take the over for this one. I think the Bears will have success running the ball, and the Lions should be able to move the chains enough to keep matching them score for score. Im taking the over of 45.5.
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