Detroit Lions (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. Chicago Bears (0-3 SU, 0-3 ATS)
Week 4 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, October 2, 2016 at 1PM EST
Where: Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: DET +3/CHI -3
Over/Under Total: 46.5
The Detroit Lions come into Soldier Field to face the Chicago Bears on Sunday in NFC North action. The Lions are 1-2, following their second straight loss against the Packers on Sunday, 34-27. They look to even the slate this week against a Chicago team that would like to forget their first three weeks to the season. On Sunday night, they were beaten by the Cowboys, 31-17, which followed a 15-point home loss to Philly the previous week on MNF. In two straight spotlight games, they've produced a pair of clunkers and it's unclear what the Bears can do to shake out of this funk.
The Bears have a lot of issues with certain players not really delivering and just being outplayed. It's only fair, however, to point out how injuries have also played a role. Starting QB Jay Cutler has been injured and once he gets cleared for a bad right thumb, coach John Fox has said there is no guarantee he reclaims his job. In his absence, Brian Hoyer started on Sunday night. But looking at the injury reports, you see a ton of key pieces. After losing Matt Forte, their backfield could ill afford personnel losses, as both Ka'Deem Carey and Jeremy Langford have been hurt, with Langford's injury keeping him out for a number of games. This is a spot for RB Jordan Howard to shine, as he should get more touches, as he looked promising with a 36-yard run last week.
You'd like to see what the Chicago defense could come up with if they even had a fraction of luck on the injury front. Over half of what was projected to be their starting "D" is out and will be out for this game. This was not a team built to be able to withstand that many losses. It's not unfair to say that Chicago could be in the running as the worst team in the NFL after three games. Opposing running backs are having their way thus far with this "D," as rookie Ezekiel Elliott ran for 140 yards against the Bears on Sunday. It's just not a terribly impactful group at this point in time on defense for the poor Bears.
Brian Hoyer started at QB for Chicago on Sunday. He threw for 317 yards and two touchdowns. But don't let that fool you. Most of that was gained after Dallas let up after building up a big lead. Still, he was able to connect with TE Zach Miller, WR Alshon Jeffery, and Kevin White, which counts for progress for a team that scored 14 points in each of their first two games. Still, scoring 17 points is nothing to get excited about. Eddie Royal is a factor in the aerial game and on returns. At home against Detroit, can this group make something happen?
Detroit hasn't really been able to follow through after a promising week one road win over the Colts. A late touchdown cost them a home win against the Titans and in week three at Lambeau, the Lions lost 31-24. Still, after trailing 31-10, they made a gutsy run at it. They face a nice chance to even the slate at 2-0. Even with the tough loss where they stunk it up for the first half, there were some good things to take away from the game. They just need it to manifest into wins now.
Against the Packers, Detroit QB Matthew Stafford threw for 385 yards and three touchdowns. They're getting a massive head of steam in the passing-game with the play of first-year Lion Marvin Jones, who caught two TD passes on 205 yards receiving. Eric Ebron has been showing signs that he can be the tight end the Lions need him to be. Golden Tate has been quiet, but probably won't be for long, while Theo Reddick contributes both on the ground and through the air. Anquan Boldin has been getting involved and caught a score on Sunday. This offense did lose Ameer Abdullah for a few months, so the run-game is iffy, but there are still a lot of weapons for an offense that can be prolific, but awfully inconsistent at the same time.
In two of three games so far this season, the Detroit defense was exploited to some degree in giving up 35 points to Indy and 34 to Green Bay, And those points came in bunches, with the Detroit "D" going on vacation for spells of the game. They've also shown a bit of resilience at times, along with some clutch play. Rookie DT Kerry Hyder has four sacks. But as far as being an impactful group, that hasn't been the case. Losing Ziggy Ansah and DeWayne Levy being out indefinitely doesn't help. They've secured one turnover through three games and maybe they can make something happen this week.
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The Chicago defense has been beat up through three games and it's not clear what answers they will find moving forward. The pass-defense may have held up better than it has up-front and in the middle. And Detroit's run-game isn't likely to be able to produce a ton even against this Bears' defense. Maybe at home, the Chicago aerial offense can make some things happen against Detroit. But it just looks like Chicago is really having a hard time. There is some good effort on some parts of the team, but a general state of being deflated also looks to have permeated this sideline. Losing three games to start the season is tough.
Oddly, the Bears have lost 7 in a row at Soldier Field and 12 of their last 13. It's almost as if home-field is something that doesn't resonate with the Bears, a team struggling to find an emotional connection. They just don't seem galvanized or particularly enthusiastic. The Lions, meanwhile, are showing a lot of fight and that can resonate in a big way in games like this. With so many people down on Chicago and with two highly-visible demonstrations of futility the last two weeks, it's almost too convenient of a storyline. Still, I can't help but take Detroit.
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