Lions vs. Bears betting primer and pick: Point spread illustrates how far Chicago has fallen from preseason projections

Bears linebacker Danny Trevathan (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
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Matt Nagy is 7-1 against the spread against NFC North rivals in his two seasons as coach in Chicago, but the Bears enter Sunday’s home game against the Lions losers of four in a row straight up and against the number.

Lions at Bears (-2.5, 42)

Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET / noon CT (CBS)

Line movement: After opening Chicago -3, the line moved in Detroit’s direction to 2.5 in early trading. The betting number is a long way from the Chicago -8 that CG Technology sportsbooks hung in advanced lines back in May, an indication of how far the Bears have fallen from preseason expectations.

The total adjusted from 43.5 to 41.5 during the first few days of betting.

Update: With Sunday’s news that Matt Stafford is out with factured bones in his back and will be replaced by Jeff Driskel, the line is up to Bears -6.5 and -7 on oddsboards.

The total adjusted from 43.5 to 41.5 during the first few days of betting and was moved further south upon the Stafford news.

Too many turnovers, too few points for Bears

The Bears (3-5 SU, 2-5-1 ATS) have lost four straight games for the first time in the Matt Nagy era, the offense averaging just 260 yards and 19.0 points per game in this stretch. Ball security has been an issue as well, totaling seven turnovers over these four losses.

The offense hit rock bottom in the first half of a 22-14 defeat as 5-point pups at the Eagles last Sunday, accumulating 9 total yards on 20 plays. It was the fewest yards for Chicago in a half in over 40 years, per Elias Sports Bureau.

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Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, 10-for-21 with 125 yards for the game, labored to a -26.7% first-half completion percentage compared to expectations, per NFL Next Gen Stats, the lowest rate of any signal-caller in a half all season. The third-year veteran is visibly struggling with his throwing mechanics, footwork and decision-making.

Turnover regression haunting Chicago D

The Bears possessed the ball for a measly 19 minutes and 42 seconds against the Eagles, yet the defense managed to keep its composure and give the team a shot at victory. The unit’s efficiency is strong, ranking fourth in the NFL allowing 4.9 yards per play.

What separates this year’s bunch from last season is turnovers. Chicago has forced 11 takeaways all season, ranking 14th in the league. The defense had accrued 21 headed into Week 10 in 2018.

Wheels coming off Detroit’s D

The Lions (3-4-1 SU, 4-4 ATS) have lost four of their last five after a promising start to the 2019 campaign. Like for the Bears, the playoffs appear unlikely.

The issue is on the defensive side. Since Week 4, the unit is surrendering 31.2 points and 441.6 yards per game. It cannot force foes off the field, allowing a 48.1% third-down conversion rate, last in the league. Head coach Matt Patricia, a supposed defensive guru, feels his seat getting warmer.

Stout scoring units haunt Stafford

Lions QB Matt Stafford is putting up big numbers this year, taking added shots downfield in a new offense. He threw for 406 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-24 defeat at Oakland last Sunday.

History suggests another impressive stat line could be far-fetched against a much stronger Bears defense. The 2009 No. 1 overall pick is 7-27 SU and 10-22-2 ATS (31.2%) on the road in his career against teams yielding fewer than 22.0 points per game. Stafford leads Detroit to a 19.0 scoring average in this situation. Chicago allows 18.0 points per contest, sixth lowest in the NFL.

Best Bet

Since taking the Bears job, Nagy has allowed only one division foe to meet its projected team total in a contest, holding NFC North opponents to 15.6 points per game in eight prior contests. Plus, Trubisky could not ask for a better matchup to build confidence and stabilize his long-term future with the team following some shaky starts. Lay the -2.5 behind Chicago.

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