Bet Lions -7.5 vs. Bears in Thanksgiving Opener

Matthew Jordan

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 4:02 PM UTC

Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014 4:02 PM UTC

It's a working holiday for members of the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears on Thanksgiving as the Lions, as usual, host the first NFL game on the day. Detroit opened as a 6.5-point favorite on BetOnline's NFL odds with a total of 47 points.

Bears Offense Broken?
Chicago was expected to have one of the best offenses in the NFL this season. After all, the Bears finished second in the league in scoring in 2013 and that was with backup quarterback Josh McCown playing nearly half the season. It was presumed that a full season of Jay Cutler under head coach Marc Trestman, a supposed offensive guru, would lead to fireworks. Cutler has some of the best skill position talent in the NFL in running back Matt Forte, receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery and tight end Martellus Bennett.

For whatever reason, things aren't clicking. Chicago is 19th in scoring at 21.5 points per game, 6.3 fewer than a season ago. Cutler hasn't  missed a snap but keeps turning the ball over. He is tied for second in the NFL with 12 interceptions and a mediocre 13th in rating at 93.0. That's worse than guys like Kyle Orton and Ryan Tannehill, and they don't have close to the weapons Cutler has.

The Bears (5-6) haven't scored more than 23 points in their past five games. The good news is Chicago has won the past two, scoring exactly 21 in each. The defense held the visiting Vikings to 13 points two weeks ago and then McCown's Tampa Bay team to 13 on Sunday, also at Soldier Field. Cutler didn't throw a pick vs. the Bucs but did lose his NFL-high sixth fumble. His 18 turnovers lead the NFL and Cutler has at least one in nine of 11 games.

To make the playoffs the Bears probably have to win out (and even that might not be enough). It's not impossible to accomplish with a win Thursday because then Chicago has just one road game left and it's a very winnable one Week 17 at Minnesota.

Chicago lost two defensive starters to injury in the Bucs win: linebacker Lance Briggs and rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller. Briggs, a seven-time Pro  Bowler, has already missed three other games with a rib injury. He won't be in a Chicago uniform next season. Fuller has been good when able to stay on the field with 46 tackles, six pass breakups and three interceptions. It's not clear yet if either will play in the quick turnaround game.

The Bears are 5-6 against the spread at sportsbooks and 6-5 'over/under' on NFL odds.


Lions Skidding at Wrong Time
The Lions (7-4) fell a game behind Green Bay for the NFC North lead with their second straight loss Sunday, 34-9 at red-hot New England. It was the second consecutive game that Detroit was held in single digits. That shouldn't happen on a team with Matthew Stafford, Reggie Bush, Calvin Johnson and Golden Tate. Bush missed his fourth game this season against the Patriots with a lingering ankle injury and is questionable for this one. Bush had practiced Wednesday, Thursday and Friday last week on a limited basis.

Stafford is in a major slump. He was 18 of 30 for only 183 yards with no touchdowns and a pick two weeks ago vs. Arizona and then a ghastly 18 of 46 for 264 yards, no scores and a pick vs. the Patriots. Tate has been everything the Lions could have hoped for when signing him as a free agent. He has 72 catches for 1,047 yards and three scores. Johnson has been banged up all season and doesn't look right. Megatron has 38 catches for 578 yards and three scores in eight games. He's on pace for his worst year since his rookie campaign in 2007.

The key injury suffered by the Lions in the New England loss was to left tackle Riley Reiff. He injured his knee on the opening series and did not return. Rookie Cornelius Lucas finished the game for him. Reiff has been the team's best offensive lineman and has made 29 straight starts. That's obviously in jeopardy. Lucas really struggled and was the worst-ranked player on the offense vs. the Pats according to ProFootballFocus.

If the playoffs started today the Lions would hold the final wild-card spot over Seattle and San Francisco, which are also both 7-4. Detroit does currently hold the head-to-head tiebreaker for the NFC North with the Packers, but the Lions must go to Lambeau Field in Week 17.

Detroit used to be great for bettors at sportsbooks on Thanksgiving -- as long as you bet against the Lions. They had lost nine straight on the holiday before last year's 40-10 blowout of a Packers team missing Aaron Rodgers. Detroit is 34-38-2 all time on Thanksgiving. It hasn't played the Bears on the day since 1999. The Lions swept Chicago last year.

The Lions are 5-6 against the spread on NFL odds and 2-9 'over/under.'

NFL free picks: Lions and 'under.' Detroit has the No. 1 scoring defense in the NFL and shouldn't have much trouble with that inconsistent Bears offense. The Lions offense has been better at home. Get that spread for your NFL week13 pick before it rises to 7 points, where it already is at some sportsbooks. 

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