Bears vs. Lions Predictions, Picks, Odds: Bet Against Andy Dalton and Jared Goff Feasting On NFL Thanksgiving
Getty Images. Pictured: Bears QB Andy Dalton, Lions QB Jared Goff
|Time||12:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via Gun Lake. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.|
The winless Detroit Lions have perhaps their best shot at avoiding another 0-16 season (although this time, with a tie) as they host the Chicago Bears in their traditional Thanksgiving game.
The Bears are losers of five consecutive games and haven’t looked much better than Detroit since early October. They’ve been outscored 140-79 in that span.
On the other side, the Lions have kept things close recently, drawing with the Pittsburgh Steelers and losing by only three points to the Cleveland Browns. Getting over the hump and securing an actual — as opposed to moral — victory on Thanksgiving would be huge for the Lions.
That said, is this the week Detroit pulls it off?
Bears vs. Lions Matchup
|Bears Offense||DVOA Rank||Lions Defense|
|Bears Defense||DVOA Rank||Lions Offense|
|Football Outsiders’ DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team’s success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.|
Bears Must Win On the Ground
Offensively, the Bears certainly want to be a rushing team. They’ve run the ball at the second-highest rate on the season so far. They’ve had moderate success as well, ranking just inside the top half of the league in rushing DVOA.
However, much of that has been due to quarterback Justin Fields. He’s averaging more than eight carries per game in the ones he’s played the majority of, averaging 5.6 yards per attempt. That’s best on the team among players with at least five carries. None of the running backs are better than 4.5 YPC so far. That means with Fields out, Chicago will likely struggle to move the ball on the ground.
Regardless of who’s under center, the Bears have struggled mightily in the passing game (as their DVOA indicates). Dalton has played extremely conservatively, with his average air yards per attempt of 6.4 shorter than any other team’s combined quarterback output, except the Lions.
Therefore, Chicago has to rely on its defense to find success. However, that unit ranks 22nd overall in the league, with that number sliding in recent weeks (particularly after the loss of Khalil Mack for the season).
However, the pass rush has still been a bright spot. The Bears rank second in the league in adjusted sack rate. They’ve also managed to get to the opposing quarterback 10 times over the past two games without Mack. Those quarterbacks were backup Tyler Huntley and statuesque Ben Roesthlisberger, but it’s not like any of the Detroit quarterbacks do well under pressure either.
Rushing defense will be key to this one for the Bears. The Lions’ best offensive player is quite clearly running back D’Andre Swift. Chicago’s defense ranks 28th in adjusted line yards, which could be a problem in containing Swift. A big play or two early from Swift could force Chicago to the air, which is bad news for the team.
Lions Boyle-ing Under Pressure
Editor’s note: NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that Jared Goff is expected to start for the Lions on Thursday, but the potential quarterback change does not impact our analyst’s pick below.
It’s hard to quantify just how bad the Lions have been in the passing game. Starter Jared Goff was serviceable early in the season, but seems to have regressed of late. It’s looking increasingly unlikely he’ll play, though, which means more of backup Tim Boyle.
Boyle did his best Goff impression in his first game for the Lions. He completed 15 passes to Lions players (and two to the Browns), but somehow managed only 77 passing yards on the day. It’s extraordinarily difficult to have offensive success in the NFL with a sub-4.0 yards per pass attempt.
Detroit’s explosive plays (infrequent as they might be) have come through the ground game. The Lions have three offensive touchdowns over the past two games, all of coming on runs of at least 28 yards. While that’s impressive, it’s hard to sustain it against opponents who know your only hope of moving the ball is on the ground.
Detroit’s defense hasn’t been much better. While its recent games look nice — holding Cleveland and Pittsburgh to only 29 combined points — that was against a backup Steelers quarterback and a hobbled Baker Mayfield.
Still, being able to (more or less) contain Nick Chubb and Najee Harris is a good sign for the Lions. Since the Bears needing to establish the run themselves, limiting the ground game could be enough to keep this game close.
Bears vs. Lions Picks
Even at the bare-bones total of 42 points, these teams have combined to go under in 12 of their 20 games this season. That includes their first meeting of the year, in which they combined for 38 points.
It’s hard to find hard data on this directly, but divisional opponents tend to score less points in their second meeting of the year. Looking at DFS quarterback performance as a proxy (using the FantasyLabs Trends Tool) can give us some insight, though.
Quarterbacks in divisional games average 16.83 fantasy points from November on (when it’s likely to be the second meeting) and 18.42 in September and October. Again, this is an imperfect proxy for scoring. However, it should give us some insight into how teams adapt later in the season.
With both teams having quarterback issues, it’s hard to see a road past 40 points in this game. The best line currently available is 42 at PointsBet , which I’d bet down to 41.5 points. This number is a bit more appealing if Boyle starts for the Lions, but I see value on it either way. The Lions have failed to score more than 19 points since Week 1, even with Goff under center.
Pick: Under 42 | Bet to: 41.5
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