Bears & Lions Collide On Monday Night Football
By: Michael Robinson
Friday, October 19, 2012
The Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions have a huge meeting on Monday Night Football as part of a very competitive NFC North race.
The Don Best Pro Odds list the Bears as 6½-point home favorites with a total of 47-47½. ESPN sends its crew out to Soldier Field with the Windy City coverage starting at 8:30 p.m. (ET).
The NFC North is very competitive with Chicago (4-1) leading Minnesota (4-2), Green Bay (3-3) and Detroit (2-3). The Pack are the big disappointment of the group, with the Vikes the pleasant surprise. These division games should be very competitive the rest of the way.
The Bears (4-1 against the spread) are coming off a bye-week, winning and covering their prior three. They are 2-0 SU and ATS at home this year, although the competition wasn’t great with Indianapolis (41-21 win) and St. Louis (23-6 win).
Quarterback Jay Cutler has just a 78.7 rating (ranked 25th), but played well in the last two against Jacksonville and Dallas (combined four TDs versus one pick). There are some injury concerns at receiver with rookie Alshon Jeffery (hand) out and Devin Hester (quad) questionable. Expect Hester to play and be the second receiver to Brandon Marshall.
The Bears are also dangerous running the ball (123.6 YPG, ranked 10th). Matt Forte (107 yards last week) is close to 100 percent after his ankle injury and the bruising Michael Bush can also be summoned as well.
Detroit (1-4 ATS) got arguably a season-saving win in Philly last week, 26-23 in overtime. The ‘Men from Motown’ rallied from a 10-point deficit late in the fourth quarter. Three turnovers from the inept Michael Vick helped the cause overall.
Coach Jim Schwartz’ guys got the cover as 3½-point road dogs. They were 0-6-1 ATS in their previous seven road tilts.
The Lions have a pass-first offense (320 YPG, ranked second) with quarterback Matthew Stafford and receiver Calvin Johnson. However, opposing defenses are taking away the long ball and forcing underneath throws. That’s why the yards per attempt rank just 19th (7.2).
Mikel Leshoure has run pretty well the last three games after coming back from injury. Stafford needs to stay patient and take what the defense gives him, but the Bears give up less points (14.2 PPG) than anyone and are tied for the league-lead in takeaways (17).
Detroit’s defense is allowing 27.4 PPG (ranked 26th) and can’t count on Chicago turning the ball over like Philly. The secondary did get a boost last week with the return of safety Louis Delmas, but corner Brian Bentley is needed to play (probable with a shoulder injury).
Chicago has won the last four meetings between the teams in the Windy City, but only gone 2-2 ATS. The ‘over’ is 3-1 in those contests including last November’s 37-13 Bears win as 2½-point favorites. Stafford threw for 329 yards, but will be looking to redeem himself after four interceptions.
Note the Bears are 5-1 ATS in their last six Monday night games. That includes winning at Dallas 34-18 as 3-point underdogs back on October 1.
The Don Best Linemakers Poll has Chicago (98.6) ranked seventh overall in the NFL. Detroit (96.3) is given a lot of respect at tied-for-13th.