Injuries are the story in this game with a lot of key players out on the short week. The Lions will be without Marvin Jones and Kerryon Johnson. On the other side the Bears will be without starting QB Mitch Trubisky. The Bears are still favored by 3 points which makes sense. They are ranked 3rd in overall efficiency (12 offense, 1 defense, 29 special teams) and the Lions are ranked 29th (19th off, 30th def, 20th ST). These two teams matched up two weeks ago in what was a blowout in Chicago. After playing the game on Sunday night, I think the turn around is going to be really tough for the Bears here. This is the biggest game of the year for the Lions and their first prime time game since their win over New England (called that btw). I think the Lions will be ready for this matchup.
There is not much to take from looking at the Lions offense besides inconsistency. Even in two of their four wins they were out-gained by the other team. This includes their last game where the Panthers gained 6.8 yards per play compared to the paltry 4.8 the Lions got. Matthew Stafford has had his struggles in the last 3 games since the Lions traded away Golden Tate. He appeared to be improved last week and was also without Marvin Jones in that game as well. Despite the Bears number one defensive ranking, we have seen teams move the ball through the air against them. Their defense has faced the 2nd easiest schedule of opposing offenses so far this year. The issue for Stafford and the Lions offense will be more about getting enough time to make throws downfield. If they can hold off Khalil Mack and the Bears pass rush Stafford should be able to find open receivers. Kenny Golladay has emerged as his favorite target and will be thrust into the nations spotlight today. As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, the Bears are playing on such a short turnaround. Fatigue will be an issue here and If the Bears are unable to move the ball with Chase Daniel at QB then their defense will become fatigued even quicker.
In Chase Daniel’s last start he was 16-27 for 157 yards with no TDs and no INTs and led the Chiefs to a 19-7 win over the San Diego Chargers. That game was in 2014. Bears coach Matt Nagy was the QB coach of that Chiefs team so Chase Daniel should be somewhat familiar with the offensive system. Chase Daniel has not had any meaningful playing time since then. The Lions defense on he other hand has struggled this year. They are ranked 30th overall (31st passing 23rd rushing) but they are a little bit undervalued. To start the year the Lions have continually shot themselves in the foot with penalties. This has affected their defense the most as sacks and 3rd down stops have been turned into first downs and drives turned into touchdowns. Their last game against the Panthers they only had 1 penalty as a team. If they can stay disciplined they will be able to get stops and keep their defense off the field. This should be a lot easier for them with Chase Daniel at QB.
I always mention how important good coaching is on a Thursday compared to Sunday. The best coaches keep their teams prepared and it makes a huge difference on these Thursday games as we saw with Kyle Shanahan, Nick Mullens and the 49ers a few weeks ago against Jon Gruden and the Raiders. This game has two rookie head coaches so it is tough to say which is better at this point. The Bears have a better record, but they are also loaded with more talent. The Lions have had rumors coming from their team that the players hate head coach Matt Patricia. I still like Patricia in his matchup. Matt Nagy is supposed to be an offensive coach but their defense is what leads their team. Sure the Bears average the 3rd most point in the league but again but this includes blowouts where they scored 40+ against the Bucs and Bills. I’m not sold on Nagy or the Bears. I like the Lions to cover and win this game outright. Then at the end Matt Stafford and Kenny Golladay will eat a turkey leg on the sideline together.
Detroit Lions +3