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Chicago Bears vs. Detroit Lions Odds & Game Pick (2021)

by November 24, 2021
2022 NFL Division Winners bets

Is there a better way to start your Thanksgiving holiday than a showdown between Andy Dalton and Tim Boyle in the Motor City? Heck no! Just make sure you hold off on eating your Thanksgiving meal until after this game concludes because what you see might make you throw up your turkey.

Because the NFL loves its esoteric traditions, our holiday slate of action begins with the pitiful Detroit Lions against the awful Chicago Bears. It’s a battle between a team trying to win its first game of the season and a team that might be firing its coach the hour after this game ends.

But I know you, dear reader. Even the ugliest football game is still a football game, which means it’s an opportunity to get down some action. So let’s try and make the most of this gross Thanksgiving matchup.

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  • Opening line: Chicago -4
  • Current line: Chicago -3.5
  • Total: 41.5

Could this be Matt Nagy’s swan song? 

The Chicago Bears have never fired a head coach during the middle of its season in its century of operation. But Matt Nagy could become the first.

The Bears are coming off a heartbreaking home loss to the Baltimore Ravens, without Lamar Jackson, Marquise Brown, and several other key players. What’s even worse is how the Bears lost. After taking a 13-9 lead with under two minutes to go, the Bears allowed quarterback Tyler Huntley, who had just 16 career pass attempts heading into his game, to march down the field and score a game-winning touchdown with 22 seconds remaining.

It was the worst loss of the season for Chicago in a year filled with gut-wrenching defeats. And anyone who even had a morsel of hope for the Nagy era seems to have given up. Things have gotten so out of hand that “Fire Nagy” chants broke out during Monday night’s Chicago Bulls game.

At 3-7, Chicago’s season is pretty much over. Now, it’s all about the development of rookie quarterback Justin Fields. But wait, Fields won’t even play Thursday as he recovers from rib injuries suffered against the Ravens.

And that’s Chicago’s biggest problem in 2021 and the future. They can’t support their franchise passer. The Bears’ offensive line is a dumpster fire in pass protection. This season, Chicago has allowed 33 sacks and has the highest adjusted sack rate in the league by a wide margin at 11.7%.

The Bears are doing this rebuild around Fields the entirely wrong way. They’ve drafted a talented quarterback but have no infrastructure around him. The offensive line is miserable. Allen Robinson is useless when he’s not hurt. Darnell Mooney is a nice piece, but he isn’t a No. 1 wide receiver. Chicago does reasonably well on offense by running the ball, where they rank 14th in DVOA.

Defensively, Chicago is a sinking ship. After looking respectable to start the year, injuries have battered this Bears defense. Khalil Mack is out for the season, while Akiem Hicks and Eddie Jackson missed last week’s game. And given the team’s state, I’d imagine they’re in no rush to return to the field.

Chicago now ranks 22nd in defensive DVOA, 19th against the pass, and 22nd against the run. Their cornerbacks are miserable aside from second-year pro Jaylon Johnson. The Bears have been able to rush the passer even without Mack, as they rank second in the league in adjusted sack rate.

It feels like win or lose; this could be Nagy’s last game in Chicago.

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Is this Detroit’s last chance at a victory?

Here’s Detroit’s remaining schedule after this week: vs. Minnesota, at Denver, vs. Arizona, at Atlanta, at Seattle, vs. Green Bay.

While you could argue road games against Atlanta and Seattle are winnable, this Thanksgiving showdown feels like Detroit’s best chance to avoid going winless in Dan Campbell’s first season.

Once again, the Lions played hard and continue to be a profitable underdog. On an ugly, rainy day in Cleveland, the Lions made things ugly, losing to the Browns just 13-10 and covering as 13.5-point underdogs.

Tim Boyle did very little to jumpstart this pitiful Lions offense. He threw for a paltry 77 yards and two interceptions and was every bit as bad as you would’ve expected from a no-name quarterback who probably shouldn’t be employed in the league.

The Lions rank 31st in offensive DVOA and genuinely can’t throw the ball. Detroit’s only source of hope is running back D’Andre Swift, who continues to overcome a miserable situation with his talent. Swift ran for 136 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s loss to Cleveland despite having Boyle as his quarterback.

Defensively, Detroit is just as talentless. The Lions rank 29th in overall defensive DVOA, 28th in pass defense DVOA, and 29th in run defense DVOA. Against the Browns, the Lions gave up 184 yards on the ground despite facing a wounded Baker Mayfield.

Bottom Line 

This is a tempting spot to pick the Lions to win their first game of the season. The Lions are playing hard, and the Bears seem to be lifeless. But is it the right matchup?

I could see this game playing out similarly to when these teams played in Week 4. During that game, Chicago emphasized pounding the rock, rushing 39 times for 188 yards. The Bears attempted just 17 passes in that game and managed to win 24-14 at home. Detroit hasn’t gotten any better against the run since then.

The Lions are 6-4 ATS as an underdog, but they haven’t been quite as good as a short underdog. The Lions are 6-1 when closing as underdogs of six points or more. However, they’re 0-3 as an underdog of 3.5 points or fewer, with all three losses coming by double digits.

Translation: when the market thinks the Lions have a chance to win, they’ve looked terrible.

So while I’d lean with Detroit and the points, I feel more confident in this being a low-scoring game. The Bears will pound the rock, and I don’t anticipate Tim Boyle lighting up any defense. I expect a game that starts slow and doesn’t feature much scoring.

Picks: First half under 20.5, full game under 41.5, lean Detroit +3.5, play down to +3

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Matt Barbato is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Matt, check out his archive and follow him @RealMattBarbato.

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