NFC North Betting Preview: Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions

Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions
Sunday, December 30, 2012, 1:00 pm Eastern, TV: Fox, NFL Sunday Ticket
Ford Field – Detroit, Michigan
Opening Line: Chicago -3
Current Line: Chicago -3 (-105)
Opening Total: 44 1/2
Current Total: 45
Opening Money Line: Bears -150 / Lions +130
Current Money Line: Bears -150 / Lions +130

The Chicago Bears are 3 point favorites at the Detroit Lions Sunday. The Bears need a win and have to hope Green Bay beats Minnesota to clinch a playoff berth.

After a 7-1 start the Chicago Bears have gone 2-5 since then to fall to 9-6. The Bears still have a shot to make the playoffs. They are tied with the Minnesota Vikings for the last wild card spot in the NFC. The Vikings hold the tie breaker, so Chicago has to beat the Detroit Lions Sunday and hope the Green Bay Packers beat the Vikings. Both the Bears and Packers are on the road.

Chicago, coached by Lovie Smith, is coming off a 28-13 win at the Arizona Cardinals last week to snap a 3 game losing streak for the Bears. Chicago is 7-8 ATS and the total is 8-7 this season.

Detroit is 4-11 this season under coach Jim Schwartz. The Lions have lost 7 straight games, including 31-18 at home against the Atlanta Falcons last Saturday. The Lions are 5-10 ATS and the total is 9-5-1 this season.

Chicago leads the series against Detroit 16-7 since 2001. The Bears have won 7 of the last 8 against the Lions including 13-7 earlier in the season in Chicago. In that game, the Lions scored a late touchdown to avoid being shutout.

Chicago is averaging 304.9 yards per game on offense including 183.1 passing yards and 121.7 rushing yards. The Bears are #28 in total offense and #29 in passing. Chicago is outscoring teams 23-17 this season. The Bears are +16 in turnovers. Chicago has forced 40 sacks and allowed 42 this season. The Bears are 81/217 on third and fourth down conversions. On defense, Chicago is allowing 314.9 yards per game including 211.2 passing yards and 103.7 rushing yards. The Bears are  in the top 10 in all defensive categories including #2 in points allowed. Chicago has 10 special teams or defensive touchdowns this season including 8 pick sixes.

Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler has completed 58.8% of his passes for 2,776 yards with 18 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, along with 36 carries for 204 yards. He has been sacked 36 times this season.

Running back Matt Forte has 224 carries, 9991 yards and 4 touchdowns, along with 42 catches, 319 yards and a touchdown. Forte is probable with an ankle injury. Back-up Michael Bush is out for the season with a rib injury. He had 411 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 9 catches. Armando Allen and Kahlil Bell will also get a few carries. Allen is questionable with an ankle injury.

Receiver Brandon Marshall has 113 carries, 1,466 yards with 11 touchdowns. Alshon Jeffery has 20 catches, 291 yards and 3 touchdowns. Earl Bennett has 24 catches, 266 yards and a touchdown. Devin Hester has 23 catches, 242 yards and a touchdown. He also returns kicks and punts for the Bears. Kellen Davis has 19 catches, 229 yards and 2 touchdowns. Kicker Robbie Gould is out for the season with a calf injury. The Bears signed veteran Olindo Mare to replace Gould. Ten defensive players are listed on the injury report along with 7 other players.

Detroit is averaging 414.2 yards per game on offense, including 311.5 passing yards and 102.7 rushing yards. The Lions are #2 in total offense, and lead the league in passing. Detroit is being outscored 27-23 this season. The Lions are -9 in turnovers. Detroit has forced 31 sacks and allowed 28 this season. The Lions are 88/211 on third and fourth down conversions. On defense, Detroit is allowing 337.9 yards per game, including 221.6 passing yards and 116.3 rushing yards. Those numbers aren’t terrible and rank in the middle of the league. However, Detroit is 29th in points allowed, mainly due to the turnovers. Detroit has no defensive/special teams touchdowns, but has allowed 10 this season.

Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford has completed 60% of his passes for 4,695 yards with 17 touchdowns and 16 interceptions, along with 32 carries 117 yards and 4 touchdowns. He has been sacked 28 times this season. He needs 15 pass attempts to become the first player in NFL history to throw the ball 700 times in a season. Drew Bledsoe holds the current record with 691 in 1994.

Running back Mikel Leshoure has 200 carries, 741 yards and 9 touchdowns, along with 31 catches, for 194 yards. Joique Bell has 80 carries, 408 yards, and 3 touchdowns, along with 50 catches for 466 yards. Kevin Smith has 37 carries, 134 yards and a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown. He is probable with a thumb injury.

Receiver Calvin Johnson has 117 catches, 1,892 yards, and 5 touchdowns. He broke Jerry Rice’s record for receiving yards in a season last week against the Falcons. He needs 108 yards to become the first player in NFL history with 2,000 receiving yards. Johnson was held to 3 catches for 34 yards in the last game against in Chicago. Johnson is probable with a knee and ankle injuries. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew is doubtful with an ankle injury. Pettigrew has 57 catches, 556 yards and 3 touchdowns. Receivers Titus Young, Ryan Broyles, and Nate Burleson  are all out for the season. Other than the running backs, the only healthy receiver with more than 9 catches is tight end Tony Scheffler who has 37 receptions,  451 yards, and a touchdown. Twenty Lions are listed on the injury report including 11 defensive players.

Chicago is 4-1 ATS in week 17, 10-4-1 in road games against teams with losing home losses, 5-2 after passing for less than 150 yards, 5-11 after allowing less than 250 yards, 2-5 overall, 8-22-1 after rushing for more than 150 yards, 2-6 against NFC teams, 1-4 after a straight up win, and against NFC North teams, 1-5 in December, and 0-4 after allowing less than 15 points.

Detroit is 6-1 ATS after a double digit home loss, 12-5-1 after gaining more than 350 yards, 2-5 at home, 8-20-1 after allowing 90 rushing yards or less, 5-16 against NFC teams, 2-7 after rushing for less than 90 yards, 1-4 on fieldturf, 2-10-1 after failing to cover, 1-5 against teams with winning records, and after passing for 250 yards, 1-6 after allowing 250 passing yards, 1-8 against NFC North teams, 0-9 after allowing 30 points or more, 0-4 after a straight up win, in December, and overall. The Lions are 4-1 ATS in the last 5 against the Bears.

The game plan for Detroit will be simple. Stafford will throw the ball to Calvin Johnson until Megatron gets 2,000 yards. This will be the only time in history that the Bears and their fans will be rooting for the hated Green Bay Packers. Even though Forte is banged up I like the Bears to win on the road.

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