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As if Thursday night games didn’t do enough to put teams in a precarious situation, when Thanksgiving rolls around, teams have even less time to prepare. Especially the Chicago Bears, who played on Sunday night. Now they have to turn around and play early on Thursday. That should give the Detroit Lions somewhat of an advantage. But will it be enough? Probably not.
Featured Pick #1: Will either team lead at the end of both halves? (Yes, the Bears)
Detroit is a team without an identity right now. At least on offense. They traded away Golden Tate. It doesn’t look like Kerryon Johnson will play Thursday. Nor Marvin Jones Jr. That doesn’t leave much for Matthew Stafford. And on top of it, the Bears defense has been among the best in the NFL.
There are, however, some concerns about Mitchell Trubisky’s status. It’s trending towards the quarterback playing on Thanksgiving. But a shoulder injury – even if it’s not severe – is definitely something to keep an eye on. But Trubisky’s status shouldn’t mean a whole lot. Chicago leans on its quarterback about as little as any modern-day pro football team can. Plus they have Chase Daniel, one of the highest-paid and highly-regarded backups in the league.
The Bears score 29.4 points/game, opposed to the Lions’ 22.2 a game. If the teams play to their average, the Bears are a touchdown favorite. But they do it in a style unique to today’s NFL. Ball control, short passes, bruising runs from Jordan Howard and quick, explosive plays from Tarik Cohen make Chicago’s offense deliberate, but unpredictable at the same time. They’ll control the pace from the opening kick.
Featured Pick #2: Who will score the Lions first touchdown? (Any other player)
It’s worth taking the field here. The other choices have obvious flaws: Kerryon Johnson, as mentioned, might not even suit up; Kenny Golladay will get the most attention from the Bears secondary; Theo Riddick doesn’t have a touchdown yet this season. If Detroit gets deep into the red zone, LeGarrette Blount might see touches. Otherwise, it might be one of the Lions tight ends (Michael Roberts, Luke Willson, or even Levine Toilolo) that gets the score.
The “Any other player” pick here is the obvious value pick. Point values aren’t necessarily as important on Thanksgiving because everyone will be playing for the million-dollar perfect score payout. Still, of the individual players listed, Kenny Golladay is the most logical. But that pick would back you into a pretty narrow corner.
If you were feeling really saucy, think about going with “No Lions touchdown.” A Lions shutout, at least as touchdowns are concerned, isn’t out of the question. But you’d think Detroit will find the end zone at least once.
Featured Pick #3: Who will win the game? (Bears by 1-13 points)
The first time these two teams played each other this season, Chicago came in just under the line for this pick. They won by 12. Thinking the game will play out in a similar fashion is the right line of thinking.
Chicago has had a couple blowout wins against the Buccaneers and Bills. Otherwise, win or lose, games that involve them usually end with a result under a two-touchdown margin.
In order for the Lions to win, one would think they’d have to move the ball through the air. Especially if Kerryon Johnson doesn’t play. The first time these teams played, the Matthew Stafford threw for 229 yards. That will have to be closer to 300 for Detroit to be successful. Chicago has only allowed that many passing yards twice this season. As opposed to three times they’ve kept the opponent under 200 passing yards.
While watching the game, if you want one indicator of how the game is trending, watch the Lions passing game. If they can move the ball through the air with relative ease, that’s a great sign they might be able to pull off an upset. However, the Bears defense might just be too good. And the Lions might not be able to establish offensive play-makers anyway.
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