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coleryan
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Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears: Preview and Pick

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On 11/04/2013 04:43 PM in NFL
Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears: Preview and Pick

The Detroit Lions are suddenly emerging as contenders to not only make the playoffs but to make a run at the Super Bowl. They have a very good offensive and they have a defense that can match up when pressed. The game against the Chicago Bears will be a big game as the Lions will have a chance to sweep the series and challenge the Green Bay Packers for the division title. With the Packers rolling right along, the Lions cannot afford to skip a beat.

Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears Odds

The opening NFL point spread for this game will favor the Lions as they have the momentum and are coming off of a bye week and will be going against a Bears team that will be without starting quarterback Jay Cutler. The Bears defense has struggled all season long and they will be hard pressed to cover Calvin Johnson which should force the betting public to take the Lions and drop the points.

Calvin Johnson has been phenomenal the past two weeks and is the best receiver in the NFL. Reggie Bush’s presence can’t be overlooked on offense, and Ndamukong Suh has been a game-wrecker on defense. But the Lions wouldn’t be where they are without Stafford, who is second in the league in passing and on pace for another 5,000-yard season. He has taken good care of the ball and put an offense still short on playmakers in regular position to succeed.

Suh and DeAndre Levy have garnered most of the attention on defense, and for good reason. Suh has 3½ sacks and Levy has four interceptions, but Glover Quin has been the glue that has held a shaky secondary together. This group will be eager to go after the Bears.

The latest football betting trends for this game reveal that the bears have done well in Detroit. Chicago is 9-2 straight up in its last 11 games when playing Detroit, but 1-5-1 against the spread (ATS) in its last 7 games when playing against the Lions. Chicago is 8-4 straight up in its last 12 games at home and 0-4-1 ATS in its last 5 games at home. The total has gone over in 7 of Chicago's last 10 games when playing Detroit and over in 15 of Detroit's last 22 games on the road. Detroit is 5-11 straight up in its last 16 games and 4-12-1 ATS in its last 17 games on the road.

Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears Pick

With plenty of time to go before the start of the regular season, I will wait to release my pick on this game until we get closer to game day.
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11/05/2013 01:27 PM
So remember when Monday we mentioned the Lions, if the playoffs started then, wouldn't be in the postseason? Well, if the playoffs started Tuesday morning, the Lions would both be in and hosting a playoff game.

That's how tied up the NFC North is.

Detroit, Chicago and Green Bay are all tied at the top of the division at 5-3 -- the only division in the NFL with three teams with records better than .500 -- and by virtue of tiebreakers, the Lions would be the No. 3 seed this morning.

But that also places added importance on Sunday's game against Chicago. With Carolina hanging around in the South and Arizona still in the wild-card race in the West, every game the rest of the way becomes critical. That it is the Bears and a divisional game is even more important.

A win for the Lions on Sunday gives them the tiebreaker over the Bears no matter what happens because they would have swept them. So just something to keep an eye on this week.

The good news for Detroit -- the Lions aren't nearly as beat up as the other two teams. Aaron Rodgers injured his left shoulder Monday night. Jay Cutler missed Monday's game against Green Bay with an injured groin, but is going to try to play Sunday against Detroit.

So welcome to what could be a wild second half.
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11/05/2013 01:28 PM
Jay Cutler may return to game action in time to face the Detroit Lions this weekend, according to ESPN, quoting a team source.

Cutler was supposed to miss up to four weeks after he suffered a groin tear versus the Washington Redskins.

However, after backup quarterback Josh McCown's performance in Monday's win over the Packers, the team may think about rushing Cutler back too fast.

McCown threw for 272 yards, 2 touchdowns and no interceptions in the 27-20 win.
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11/06/2013 02:57 PM
Matthew Stafford's latest highlight had more to do with his wits than his arm.

With Detroit trailing by six, and seconds ticking away, Stafford could have simply spiked the ball to stop the clock. Instead he surprised the Dallas defense and even some of his teammates by lunging forward and reaching the ball toward the goal line. His 1-yard touchdown with 12 seconds left gave the Lions a win over the Cowboys two weekends ago.

If Stafford's risky move hadn't worked, the Lions might have run out of time, but their franchise quarterback is proving he can be trusted to make the right decisions with the game on the line.

"That was, in my opinion, one of the most impressive things I've ever seen any quarterback do. That was something out of a movie. You couldn't script it any better," receiver Nate Burleson said. "If that wouldn't have worked, could you imagine the backlash he would have gotten? What I love is that he didn't care."

The 31-30 victory over the Cowboys on Oct. 27 enabled the Lions to enter their open date on a positive note. Detroit (5-3) is now in a three-way tie atop the NFC North with Green Bay and Chicago.

Stafford is going into this week's road game against the Bears with a chance to become Detroit's career passing leader. He trails Bobby Layne by 286 yards.

"Any time you break a record it's a humbling experience," Stafford said. "It's not like I'm going out there trying to break a record. I'm trying to win a game. But if I do so in the process ... I have a lot of respect for the history of this game and this franchise, too, so it's something that, when and if it happens, I'm sure I'll reflect on it after the fact."

The Lions drafted Stafford with the top pick in 2009, but after two injury-filled seasons, he needed surgery on his right shoulder. He hasn't missed a start since, and questions about his durability have faded.

"I didn't like missing games my first two seasons," Stafford said. "I knew it would get back to normal soon enough."

In 2011, Stafford threw for 5,038 yards and 41 touchdowns, leading the Lions to a 10-6 record and a playoff berth. He passed for 4,967 yards last season, but the Lions went 4-12. Stafford threw for only 20 TDs with 17 interceptions.

So he still had a lot to prove in 2013, especially since he entered this season with a 1-22 record against teams that went on to finish above .500.

This year, the Lions have beaten Chicago and Dallas, who at this point have winning records. The second of those victories came in exactly the type of situation when a quarterback needs to show poise. With no timeouts, the 25-year-old Stafford drove the Lions 80 yards in 50 seconds, scoring on his winning sneak.

"He's smart when it comes to the sport of football," Burleson said. "What you can't coach is his ability to make certain throws. What's improving on a daily basis is his intelligence."

Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson have continued to post impressive numbers despite injuries to some of the team's other targets. Burleson is hoping to rejoin Detroit's offense soon. He hurt his arm in a car crash in late September, but he was at practice Tuesday — although coach Jim Schwartz said the team won't rush him back if he's not ready.

"I've got to be smart," Burleson said. "If it was up to me I'd go out and risk it, but that's not necessarily the right thing to do always."

Stafford's career is a good example of how much patience a player has to have when he's hurt. In his second year in the NFL, he played only three games — but now he is about to surpass Layne's record.

Stafford's peak might be still to come.

"I think there's a lot of other accomplishments that Matt has in front of him, other than being the career passing leader for the Detroit Lions. He's 25 years old," Schwartz said. "I don't think that record is going to be the hallmark of his career. There's a lot of other great things ahead of Matt Stafford."
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11/07/2013 01:51 PM
Comfortable regardless of who is at quarterback, the Chicago Bears are focused on trying for a second straight victory over another NFC North frontrunner on Sunday.

Looking to build on their latest win, the Bears hope to continue their home success over a Detroit Lions team that tries to sweep the season series for the first time since 2007.

A loser in three of four and starting journeyman backup Josh McCown in place of injured quarterback Jay Cutler, Chicago (5-3) left Lambeau Field on Monday with a 27-20 win over Green Bay and part of a three-way tie atop the division with the Packers and Detroit (5-3).

Though the victory revived a team playing without injured leaders in Cutler (groin) and linebacker Lance Briggs (shoulder), the Bears understand it won't mean anything unless they can continue to win.

"We've still got half the season left, so we've got a long way to go," Chicago defensive end Shea McClellin said.

McClellin recorded three of the team's season-high five sacks, including the one that broke Aaron Rodgers' collarbone that has seemingly opened the door for the Bears and Lions in the division.

After throwing for 204 yards with a touchdown in relief of Cutler during a 45-41 loss at Washington on Oct. 20, the 34-year-old McCown threw for 272 with two TDs and no interceptions against the Packers.

Though Cutler might be ready to return Sunday, he and the Bears are confident with McCown running the offense.

"I think the way that Josh is playing, we feel good about that," Cutler said on his weekly Chicago radio show Tuesday.

A team that averaged 23.4 points and 310.6 total yards while going 10-6 and missing the playoffs last season, has thrived under offensive-minded, first-year coach Marc Trestman. Chicago is second in the NFL averaging 30.0 points and 10th at 377.0 total yards per contest.

Behind an improved offensive line, Cutler and McCown have been sacked 12 times. The Bears allowed 28 through the first eight games of 2012.

Matt Forte rushed for a season-high 125 yards, scored his fourth TD in two games and recorded 54 yards through the air at Green Bay. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery combined for 12 receptions for 167 yards and each had a touchdown.

"We keep getting better and better," center Roberto Garza told the Bears' official website. "The guys have a lot of trust in each other."

Despite being thin at defensive tackle and starting two rookie linebackers, the Bears overcame 199 rushing yards by the Packers to hold them to a season-low 312 total. More importantly, they didn't allow backup Seneca Wallace to beat them.

The Bears are 29th against the run, allowing 127.5 yards per game, and yielded 139 to Reggie Bush when Detroit snapped a three-game series skid with a 40-32 home win Sept. 29.

Chicago outgained Detroit 417-387, but Bush's running coupled with three Cutler interceptions and his fumble that was returned for a TD ultimately doomed the Bears.

Though the Lions have dropped six straight division road games and five in a row at Chicago, three of those meetings at Soldier Field have been decided by six points or fewer.

"It's tough," said Detroit's Matthew Stafford, who has completed 60.0 percent of his passes and thrown three TDs and six INTs while going 0-4 at Chicago. "They play pretty well at home like everybody in our division does. It's a big challenge."

The Lions are coming off their bye week looking to build on a dramatic 31-30 home win over Dallas on Oct. 27.

Calvin Johnson caught 14 passes and his 329 receiving yards are the second-highest in NFL history. However, it was Stafford's 1-yard TD plunge with 12 seconds left to cap a six-play, 80-yard drive over 50 seconds that's likely the most memorable moment of that contest.

It's that type of victory that has Detroit confident, yet cautious, it can win the team's first division title since 1993.

"We are only halfway through the season and the tale of this season is not going to be written in the first half, it is going to be written in the second half and that is what we have to concentrate on," coach Jim Schwartz told the Lions' official website.

Though Johnson has recorded 23 of his 47 receptions, 484 of his 821 receiving yards and scored three times in the last two games, the Bears have done a good job of shutting him down. He's been held to 19 catches, 231 yards and only a touchdown in the September meeting over his last four versus Chicago.

Forte, who gained 53 of his 95 rushing yards at Detroit this season on a second-quarter TD run, has averaged 88.4 per game and 5.0 per carry in 11 career contests against the Lions.

Jeffery has topped the 100-yard receiving mark in three of the last five games, beginning with 107 and a touchdown on five receptions at Detroit.
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11/08/2013 02:11 PM
Trestman and a rebuilt offensive line has elevated Chicago's offense and the Bears are second in the NFL, averaging 30.0 points per contest, and 10th in yards at 377.0 per game.

They didn't miss a beat with McCown in the lineup and that has been a bit of a surprise considering how badly Chicago has struggled in the past when Cutler was on the sidelines.

"There really wasn't any drop off," Marshall said when asked about McCown's play in comparison to Cutler. "It is hard to replace a guy like Jay, physically and his leadership but when you have guy like Josh our offense didn't skip a beat."

It looks like Cutler and the Bears are pushing it a bit this week especially after the veteran McCown, who played for the Lions in 2006, looked so confident and composed against Green Bay.

Of course, things may have played out differently if Rodgers was in the contest. The Bears probably aren't equipped to win a shootout without Cutler and who knows if he will be 100 percent come Sunday.

No matter who is under center a banged-up Bears defense will need to find a way to at least slow down Detroit's imposing playmakers.

Injuries to defensive tackles Henry Melton and Nate Collins along with linebackers Lance Briggs and DJ Williams have hurt the Bears' defense badly and the team is currently 29th in the NFL against the run, allowing 127.5 yards per game, including 139 to Bush in September.

"He's a difference-making player in the run and the pass," Trestman said when discussing Bush. "We've got to do a better job this time in working this week to try to neutralize him."

This is a big chance for the Lions to stamp themselves as a legitimate contender in the NFC North. They usually struggle on the road in general and at Soldier Field but Cutler's groin could give Detroit a larger margin of error.

The Lions have lost six straight division road games overall and five consecutive tries in Chicago.

"It's tough," said Stafford, who is 0-4 as a starter in the Second City. "They play pretty well at home like everybody in our division does. It's a big challenge."
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11/08/2013 07:06 PM
It doesn’t look like the Lions will have defensive end Ezekiel Ansah (ankle), cornerback Bill Bentley (knee) and tackle Corey Hilliard (knee) as they’re all listed as doubtful. Running back Reggie Bush (knee) and wide receiver Calvin Johnson (knee) are both probable, though.

Quarterback Jay Cutler (groin) and cornerback Charles Tillman (knee) are both good to go for the Bears. Defensive end Shea McClellin (hamstring) is doubtful to be in the lineup.
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