Preview and predictions for Bears at Lions
It’s been kind of a dreary season for the Chicago Bears, who had high hopes that Justin Fields could make some major strides in his third season. He did top the 1000-yard mark in rushing, but as BetOnline customers know, the Chicago braintrust is looking for him to really develop as a passer. After all, it's a passing league.
That development has been stunted the last several weeks, as Fields has been sitting out with a thumb injury. But the team has been fortunate that they have won two out of four games with undrafted rookie Tyson Bagent at the controls.
Fields is returning from injured reserve on Sunday as the Bears line up against the Detroit Lions in a game beginning at 1 PM Eastern time at Ford Field.
Chicago is coming off of 16–13 victory over the Carolina Panthers, but they are stuck in the mud with a 3–7 record, and if that continues, head coach Matt Eberflus could wind up losing his job. The defense has largely been a rough proposition when defending the pass, as the Bears have given up 248 yards per game through the air.
And yes, offense has been a bit choppy.
Detroit had a real barn burner last week, as they went back-and-forth with the Los Angeles Chargers, finally coming out on the winning end of a 41–38 score. It’s important that this team be able to win on the road, and with a 7-2 record, the Lions have a 1.5-game lead over Minnesota in the NFC north. Dan Campbell is the favorite to win coach of the year, according to the futures odds at BetOnline, and he has done a heck of a job changing the culture, if you pardon the cliché.
Perhaps most importantly, he has established his team as one that can really travel over ground. And he is using a former Chicago Bear to do it.
In the pro football odds that have been posted on this game by our friends at BetOnline, the Lions are solidly favored:
Detroit Lions -8 (-108)
Chicago Bears +8 (-112)
Over 48 points -112
Under 48 points -108
Campbell is sort of a rah-rah guy who definitely wants to pound the ball into the opposition's defensive line. And he has put together a nice duo to be able to do that. David Montgomery, who was a reliable back in Chicago, has been averaging 4.7 yards per rushing attempt. And some people questioned why Detroit drafted Jahmyr Gibbs in the first round out of Alabama. Well, he is one of the league's outstanding rookies, both with rushing and pass-catching and has logged the ball for 5.4 yards per carry.
Running the ball is especially important, because anyone who has followed quarterback Jared Goff knows that he always operates with more effectiveness when he’s able to throw it after play action. And the numbers back that up; he leads the NFL in passing yards out of play action.
Chicago likes to think it has the equipment to thwart that, as they have allowed only 3.2 yards per carry. So we will see if they can make the Lions' infantry impotent. If Detroit can establish something on the ground, the Bears, who have only 13 sacks on the season, may be powerless to stop Goff and his receivers, who include Amon-Ra St. Brown (821 yards) and rookie sensation Sam LaPorta, another one of those tight ends from the University of Iowa, who has caught 47 passes for 474 yards.
We don’t want to forget that the Bears have some weapons for Fields to throw to. DJ Moore, who came in the trade with Carolina in which the Panthers acquired the NFL’s top overall draft pick (turning it into Bryce Young), is at 793 yards, and then there is tight end Cole Kmet, who has given this team 46 receptions. Between those two receivers, they have ten touchdowns.
Detroit looks like the kind of offense that is going to put some points on the board no matter what. Goff is the second highest graded quarterback, according to the analytics site Pro Football Focus, and there’s a lot of balance in this attack. But defensively, Campbell still has to figure out a way to plug some holes in the secondary.
We think the best play in this one is to go OVER the total, and we can see Chicago making this relatively competitive. However, Fields is going to have to give his team some of that juice in the ground game that he supplied last season.
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