NFL Picks: Side With Bears +3 Against Struggling Lions

Mark Lathrop

Tuesday, October 13, 2015 10:00 PM UTC

Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015 10:00 PM UTC

The Bears pulled out a huge upset in Week 5, winning outright as a ten point underdog in Kansas City. Our NFL Handicapper analyzes their Week 6 matchup with the Lions and gives his early NFL pick.

The hope of a playoff season for the Detroit Lions was likely snuffed out in Week 5, quicker than that dentist pulling the trigger on poor ol’ Cecil. That game against the Arizona Cardinals, who are very good, saw the benching of Matthew Stafford for Dan Orlovsy, and Detroit kicking a FG deep in Cardinal territory while being down 35-7. “Dumpster fire” is a word being used to describe the Lions’ organization right now on the internet, and it’s hard to argue with most of the arguments.

But still, the Lions opened as a 3-point favorite in Week 6 at home versus their NFC North division rivals, the Chicago Bears. The Bears just went into Arrowhead Stadium and beat the Chiefs, which is a much harder place to play than Ford Field. At 2-3, Chicago has a better record than the Lions, but the statistical superiority pretty much ends there. These teams are quite even in a multitude of statistical categories, which makes the line a little more common sense.

Let’s start our comparison with the defenses. The Lions are 26th in the league in giving up 27.6 PPG and the Bears are 28th in giving up 28.4 PPG. Rushing yards allowed are also roughly equal. The passing yards allowed heavily favors the Bears, as they only give up 185.8 YPG vs. 248.8 YPG for the Lions. That passing yards allowed statistic is heavily influenced by the game in Seattle; however, as the Seahawks only passed for 48 yards in that 26-0 loss. Throw that game out and the Chicago and Detroit passing defense by yards allowed is nearly identical. Not that yards allowed are the best statistic to judge a team by or anything.

That is, unless you average 49 yards per game rushing, which the Lions currently do. This has forced the Lions to be one dimensional. It hasn’t really worked and they are 30th in the NFL in scoring with 16.6 points per game. They are also horrid on 3rd down and are converting at a 36.9% rate so far this year. Compare that to the Bears who are converting 3rd downs at a 43.8% clip. Don’t forget that 43.8% 3rd down conversion rate includes the 0-26 shutout in Seattle where they went 3-13 on 3rd down with Jimmy Clausen under center.

We would be remiss to look at season long statistics without considering the current state of each roster in regards to injuries. The Bears in particular have been bitten by the injury bug badly. They just lost change of pace RB, Jacquizz Rodgers, for the season as they had to place him on IR with a broken arm. Wide receiver Alshon Jeffreys has a lingering injury and inside linebacker, Shea McClellin, left the Kansas City game on a stretcher. The injury report for the Bears was 13 deep for week 5 and some of those players aren’t coming back anytime soon. The Lions have fared no better regarding injuries, and have missed time from RB Joique Bell, TE Eric Ebron, TE Brandon Pettigrew, G Larry Warford, T LaAdrian Waddle, DT Tyrunn Walker, DT Haloti Ngata, and LB DeAndre Levy.

In a game that should be close, I’m leaning towards the coaching matchup as a tiebreaker. John Fox has done an admirable job getting Chicago back to relevancy this season, and outright winning a game as a 10-point underdog in Kansas City is no small feat. Chicago hasn’t beaten Detroit since 2012 and are 0-5 ATS in their last five meetings, which is a streak I see being broken here. Chicago should be motivated to get to 3-3 heading into their bye week and I see no reason to back Detroit any time soon. Look for Matt Forte to have a big game and take Chicago at +3 NFL odds as one of your Week 6 NFL picks.

NFL Picks: Bears +3 at Pinnacle

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