You can bet that when the powers that be were putting together the Monday Night Football schedule they fully expected this matchup between Detroit (2-3, 1-2 road) and Chicago (4-1, 2-0 home) to be both a grudge match and a potential division-topper.
Of course, Detroit’s erratic play has the team languishing at the bottom of the division (below Minnesota!) while the Bears have been the talk of the north, charging to an impressive 4-1 record and top spot. This game might not decide who leads the division, but you can count on it being both a grudge match and an important fixture in terms of heading forward.
The last time these two sides met (November 13, 2011) Chicago took a 37-13 win in a hot-tempered affair that is best remembered for Matthew Stafford tearing D.J. Moore’s helmet off following an interception.
It was the kind of moment that has punctuated this rivalry since its inception in 1930, when the Bears took on the Lions (then known as the Portsmouth Spartans) for the first time. It was also the sort of moment this Chicago side isn’t likely to forget. You think we’re not going to see some Chicago defenders looking to get up close and personal with Mr. Stafford?
Chicago’s run of form has been built on a strong running game that has averaged 123.6 yards per game (good enough for ninth in the league). Matt Forte may only be rushing for 67.5 YPG but he’s getting help from Michael Bush (41.2 YPG). Detroit could be in for a long night, but the Lion’s own top ten rush defense may well be up for the challenge.
Detroit may well consider forgetting the run before the first quarter is over. Chicago has the number one rush defense in the league, giving up just 65.8 YPG. That leaves the team relying on Matthew Stafford’s arm.
Stafford has averaged 298.6 YPG through the air, leading the most prolific passing attack in the league. Whilst that is undoubtedly a good thing, the Detroit gunslinger has only connected on four touchdown passes all season. This miserly number is confounded by the five interceptions he’s thrown. Going through the air against Chicago could be tough, especially as the past two weeks have seen Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman return interceptions for touchdowns.
Meanwhile, Jay Cutler has put up consistent, if not awe-inspiring, numbers. He’s averaging 241.8 YPG and has tallied an even seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. The big worry at this time is that opposing defenses have gotten to him 14 times for sacks.
Historically speaking, the Bears lead the all-time series 95-65-5, and have won seven of the last eight and 11 of the last 13, a dominant record if ever there was one.
Odds: Lines opened with Chicago six-point favorites to take this one. As the week has progressed, this number has risen slightly (-6½). The over/under is 47½ points.
Take: Chicago – There’s a real temptation to pick Detroit for one simple reason: in the season of the upset, only one underdog (Tennessee) has come away with a win this weekend. A Detroit victory would be at the very least a talking point. However, this Chicago side looks defensively solid enough to put the Lions down. Stafford is unreliable through the air, and the Lions’ run game is less than stellar, and even less likely to trouble the number one rush defense in the league.
The two sides are combining for an average of 55 points per game this season. The total has gone over in six of the last eight Bears games at Soldier Field as well as five of seven Detroit games. The smart money then has to be on the OVER.
If you’re looking for more action than the spread has to offer, Bovada is offering an extensive list of player props to get involved with. Here’s a few to get you started.
Will Matthew Stafford (DET) pass for more than 285½ yards? Yes (-125), No (-105)
Will Matthew Stafford (DET) throw more than 1½ touchdowns? Yes (-165), No (+135)
Will Matthew Stafford (DET) throw more than ½ interceptions? Yes (-260), No (+200)
Will Jay Cutler (CHI) pass for more than 260½ yards? Yes (-120), No (-105)
Will Jay Cutler (CHI) throw more than 1½ touchdowns? Yes (-155), No (+125)
Will Jay Cutler (CHI) throw more than ½ interceptions? Yes (-200), No (+160)
Will Calvin Johnson (DET) score a TD? Yes (-125), No (-105)
Will Brandon Marshall (CHI) score a TD? Yes (-125), No (-105)
Will Mikel Leshoure (DET) rush for more than 62½ yards? Yes (-125), No (-105)
Will Matt Forte (CHI) rush for more than 80½ yards? Yes (-125), No (-105)