Monday Night Football Predictions: Bears at Lions Odds and Betting Picks
by Alan Matthews - 10/7/2011
It’s arguably the biggest divisional game for the Detroit Lions since they moved into Ford Field in 2002 and it’s also the first time the Lions have hosted a Monday night game in that stadium (their last was in 2001 in the Silverdome), so it should be quite a boisterous crowd for “Monday Night Football” this week when Detroit hosts Chicago in an NFC North tilt. Unfortunately for Lions fans watching at home, they won’t get to hear Hank Williams Jr.’s legendary MNF opening!
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I don’t know about you, but I’m already tired of how the media is jumping all over the Lions’ bandwagon now that they are 4-0 (they are on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week, for one example). It’s certainly a good story for a team that that hasn’t had a winning record since Bobby Ross’ final season in 2000 and that hasn’t reached the postseason since 1999. Detroit is one of only two unbeaten teams remaining (Green Bay) and has won eight games in a row (12 if you count this year’s preseason). That winning streak started after a 24-20 home loss to Chicago in Week 13 last year at Ford Field, but Detroit was down to third-string QB Drew Stanton and still the Bears had to rally in the fourth quarter. At the time, that was the Lions’ NFL record 19th straight loss to a divisional opponent (it ended the following week).
Bears at Lions Betting Storylines
It will be interesting to see if the Bears double-team Lions superstar WR Calvin Johnson, who has caught an NFL-record two touchdown passes in each of his team’s first four games (you can bet at Bodog on whether he does it again this week). Johnson and QB Matthew Stafford could have a big day because Chicago’s defense has been uncharacteristically weak this year, ranking 31st in total yards allowed and 29th in pass defense as one of four teams to allow more than 300 yards per game through the air. Opponents are averaging 24.5 points and 21 first downs per game, both of which rank in the bottom third of the league. The Lions will probably throw all night because they are 29th in the NFL in rushing.
The Lions already have made it clear they intend to hit Bears QB Jay Cutler as much as possible. Cutler has had a 100+ rating in all four meetings with the Lions since joining the Bears in 2009. He has nine TDs and only one pick in those games. In his career (including playoffs), Cutler's teams are 23-0 when he posts a rating above 100. However, Cutler is 26th in passer rating this year at 77.8. Cutler has gone just 49-of-99 for 648 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions in the past three games.
Chicago is trying to transition to a run-first team behind Matt Forte, and he blew up last week with a career-high 205 yards in a close win over Carolina. He is by far the key to the Chicago offense. Forte is seventh in the league in rushing with 324 yards and 19th in receiving with 310. His 634 yards of offense represents 51.5 percent of the Bears' offense. With Chicago so weak in pass protection – right tackle Gabe Carimi remains out and right guard Chris Spencer is ‘iffy’ with broken hand, although he says he can play with a cast – the Bears have no choice but to be run-heavy. Detroit has had trouble stopping the run at times.
In other key injury news, the Lions are expecting defensive tackle Nick Fairley, last year’s Lombardi Award winner at Auburn and the team’s first-round pick, to make his season debut off foot surgery. Detroit is also expecting LB Justin Durant to return from a concussion. Chicago won’t have Carimi or WR Earl Bennett, but it is hopeful that safety Chris Harris, an anchor of a questionable secondary, can return from a hamstring injury.
Bears at Lions Betting Odds and Trends
Detroit is currently a five-point favorite with the total at 47.5, according to NFL odds. About 55 percent of the lean is on Detroit. The Lions are 3-0-1 ATS overall and 1-0 at home. Chicago is 1-3 ATS overall and 0-1 on the road.
Chicago is 5-1 ATS in its past six on MNF. But the Bears are 1-6 ATS in their past seven in October. Detroit has covered nine of its past 10 following a win. The ‘over’ is 9-2 in Detroit’s past 11 at home. The ‘under’ is 6-2 in Chicago’s past eight road games. The ‘over’ is 4-1 in the past five meetings. The road team is 5-2 in the past seven meetings.
Monday Night Football Predictions: Bears at Lions Betting Picks
The Lions have lost six straight to the Bears and haven't beaten Chicago since 2007. They're 2-10 against the Bears dating to 2005. Chicago can’t afford to lose here because it would be three games behind at least one divisional opponent (two if the Packers win in Atlanta).
It will be curious to see what Stafford does against a Bears team he barely knows – he hasn’t faced them since getting knocked out right before halftime by Chicago’s Julius Peppers in Week 1 last year. That Chicago offensive line appears to be in for a long night against Ndamukong Suh, Fairley and Co.
I just can’t see Detroit not winning by at least a touchdown here unless the Lions get off to a bad start because they are overly hyper for the MNF appearance or they kick to Devin Hester for some reason. So take the Lions and expect a shootout, so also the ‘over’.
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