Thanksgiving Bet Builder: Bears At Lions (17:30 GMT)

The least glamorous of the three Thanksgiving Day games, the team at SRD are expecting this game being a bit of a grind

On paper, this will be the worst game on the Thanksgiving Day slate and in reality, that will likely hold true. Even combined, these sides don’t have a better record than any of the other 4 teams due to play later in the day. The Bears are 29th and the Lions 30th in total points scored on the season so this one doesn’t scream entertainment. The biggest positive (other than possibly winning some cash), is that the game starts at 17:30 GMT which is a rare treat for us on the European side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Chicago Bears

You’d imagine a 3-7 team versus a 0-9-1 side is a gimme but the Bears have enough issues to not make things automatic. The points spread at the time of writing was -3 in favour of the Bears which seems about right. Justin Fields took over from Andy Dalton in Week 2 (versus the Bengals) after The Red Rifle suffered an injury. They swap roles as the former is out with a rib injury, picking up that knock in an agonizing last minute loss to the Ravens. The Lions are 10pts worse off this season when facing a mobile QB. Playing against Dalton rather than Fields may be the reason the spread isn’t more in favour of the away side.

The Bears receiving core is also banged up. Allen Robinson II is almost certainly out with a hamstring injury whilst Darnell Mooney is listed a questionable. That could see big games from the speedsters, Marquise Goodwin and Jakeem Grant. Goodwin delivered with a TD against the Ravens on Sunday. Another player set to benefit will be Cole Kmet. In the sole game they started together, Dalton targeted Kmet 7 times. A word of caution though, the Bears average only 12.4 receptions per game compared to 23.6 carries per game.

Detroit Lions

The Lions are somewhat unlucky to be 0-9-1 with 2 of those losses coming via last kick fields goals. On defense  they are ranked 27th in total yards per game, 31st in rushing yards and 30th in points per game. The one ray of hope is they are 13th in passing yards per game. That said, that stat could be skewed as very few teams have to a chase a lead and tend to grind the clock against them with the run.

I do think Dan Campbell will succeed at the Lions however this season is going to a tough learning curve. The Lions have some decent pieces (above average O-Line, RBs and TE) but their #1 wide receiver this year was 4th choice for the Titans last season. Evidence of just how thin the squad is was in overtime versus the Steelers. The running backs were spent, as were the wide receivers and their lack of strength in depth meant they out of steam. If the Bears double up on tight end TJ Hockensen (leading receiver), a returning Jared Goff will spend a lot of the night repeating what he’s done a lot of this season – checking down to his running backs.

Combined

The current total points spread is set at 41.5. For the over to hit here the Lions would have to score more than 21pts at home for the 1st time since Week 1. The majority of their scores that day came in garbage time against the 49ers. The Bears have also struggled to break the 21pt barrier, particularly on the road . They’ve only exceeded 21 points away from Soldier Field on one occasion.

Another reason for the over potentially not hitting is that both sides offensive strength lies in the run game. For the Lions to have a chance of posting a big score, yet another big game is needed from D’Andre Swift. He has 975 yards from scrimmage (555 rush, 420 receiving) plus 6 touchdowns this season.

For the Bears, David Montgomery is back in the bell-cow role that saw him finish 6th in fantasy points last year. In his 2 games since returning from injury he’s had 24 out of 37 carries, with Fields taking 12 of the remainder. Given the mobile QB is out I expect “Monty’s” volume to increase. The Lions have also given up an average of 114.7 yards per game to opposition RB’s.

Verdict

Both sides have similar issues at wide receiver so the run game is likely where this game is won and lost. In terms of production in the run they are almost identical. The deciding factor will be stopping the run. The Lions rank 31st in yards per game where as the Bears rank 6th (albeit that was mostly garnered with the now injured Khalil Mack in the side).

The average score needed to beat the Bears (over last 3 games) is 21.7pts and the Lions is a lowly 11.6pts. This looks a game that will continue the non-winning streak for the Motor City men.

SRD Selections:

Under 41.5 Points 

D’Andre Swift – Over 32.5 Receiving Yards 

David Montgomery – Anytime TD Scorer

David Montgomery – Over 77.5 Rushing Yards

Bet Builder 14/1