Week 17 NFL Picks: Side With Improving Lions +1 vs. Bears

Swinging Johnson

Wednesday, December 30, 2015 9:20 PM GMT

The Lions are looking to conclude a disappointing season with their third consecutive win while the Bears are coming off a victory last week and hoping for another at Soldier Field. Let’s peruse the NFL odds on this NFC North tilt and cash a ticket.

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NFL Pick: Lions +1

Best Line Offered: at Heritage

 

Detroit Lions (6-9 SU, 6-9 ATS)
The Lions walloped the Niners 32-17 and sent the fan friendlies home with a smile as well as those who backed them in their NFL picks as nine-point home chalk. Matt Stafford continues to thrive under newly-installed offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter. The veteran QB went 29-of-37 for 301 passing yards and two touchdowns. The Lions have committed the fewest turnovers (4) and Stafford has the third-best TD-INT ratio (16 TD’s – 2 interceptions) since Week 10 with a team record of 5-2 over straight up and against the number during that span.

It’s a bit ironic that the old matriarch Martha Ford would have to be the one doing the blood-letting in a sport dominated by alpha males and superbly conditioned athletes. In case you missed it, back in early November the Lions’ owner played the role of the Turk superbly when she fired team president Tom Lewand and general manager Martin Mayhew for “play unbecoming an NFL franchise” (my words, not hers). Since that time the team has been reinvigorated and Stafford has been a beast. In addition to his 16 touchdowns versus only two picks since “the purge” he has completed at least 62.9 percent of his passes and his chemistry with Jim Bob Cooter, who took the offensive reins from the deposed Joe Lombardi shortly before the front office brass was sacked, has borne tremendous fruit.

 

Chicago Bears (6-9 SU, 8-7 ATS)
The Bears, installed as three-point road dogs by the NFL odds makers to the Tampa Bay Bucs, not only covered the number but won the game outright by the score of 26-21. Chicago was without its star wideout Alshon Jeffrey who has been hindered by a hamstring injury and has been put on the shelf for this one as well. Jay Cutler had 156 yards passing with one touchdown and no interceptions but it was the play of second-year man Ka’Deem Carey that opened a few eyes as he rushed for a touchdown and caught a one-yard flare pass from Cutler to do most of the damage needed to secure the victory for Chicago.

Though the offense put the points on the scoreboard it was in fact a stout job by the defense that factored into last week’s win. The Bears’ D forced three turnovers – including a goal-line interception – and held NFL rushing title contender Doug Martin to only 49 yards on the ground and an average of under three yards per carry. The Bears enter this contest with the 22nd ranked scoring offense averaging 21 points per game while defensively they are allowing 24.9 PPG which ranks them 20th in the league.

 

Betting Analysis
The Bears are not the same team without Alshon Jeffrey striking fear into the hearts of opposing secondaries and even with him they are not exactly a juggernaut. On the other side of the coin the Lions are coming together but it is too little too late. Nevertheless, they are a definite play this week in my opinion as the season comes to a close. There is a lot of good mojo in Detroit and Matthew Stafford has been recently terrorizing defensive backfields recently. Detroit edged Chicago 37-34 in their previous meeting in October but this is a far superior team to the one a few months ago.

Moreover the Lions’ defense has improved markedly as well, limiting offenses like Green Bay, Oakland, Philadelphia and San Francisco to 16, 13, 14 and 17 points respectively during the past seven weeks with only New Orleans and a Green Bay rematch notching twenty-seven. Chicago’s offense does not scare me one iota and the only way they beat the Lions is if they can score north of 20 points and I am betting that they don’t.