Recommended Bet: Chicago (-3) over Detroit

by Brady

Chicago @ Detroit
Vegas: DET +3
DomModel: DET +12.873
Recommendation: CHI -3

Key injuries:
Chicago Bears:
-QB Mitchell Trubisky (shoulder) was injured week 11. He did not practice on Monday (11/19) or Tuesday (11/20). Matt Nagy is “cautiously optimistic” he will play.
-RG Kyle Long (foot) was injured week 8. He is expected to be out 6-8 weeks, and is an IR candidate with a designation to return late in the season.
-DE Aaron Lynch (concussion) was injured week 11. He did not practice on Monday (11/19) or Tuesday (11/20).
-LB Sam Acho (pectoral) was injured during his week 4 game and is on season ending IR.

Detroit Lions: 
-WR Marvin Jones Jr (knee) was injured week 10. He was INACTIVE week 11. He did not practice on Monday (11/19) or Tuesday (11/20).
-RB Kerryon Johnson (sprained knee) was injured week 11. He did not practice on Monday (11/19) or Tuesday (11/20).
-RG TJ Lang (concussion) was injured week 9. He was placed on IR.
-DT A’Shawn Robinson (ankle) was INACTIVE week 11. He was limited in practice on Monday (11/19) and Tuesday (11/20).

When Chicago has the ball:
The Bears are coming off 5 point win on Sunday night, and now have a quick turnaround Thursday. The big news is around QB Mitch Tribusky, who is currently not practicing with an injury to his throwing shoulder. HC Matt Nagy is “cautiously optimistic” Tribusky will play. When there’s uncertainty around a starting QB, it’s pretty common for most books to take the line down until they know who is going to play. This line is available everywhere, which is leading me to believe Mitch will play. If Tribusky can’t play, it will be 32 year old journeyman Chase Daniel under center. The Bears currently do not have another QB on their active roster. Essentially, we’re betting on Tribusky to play, and are getting in now before the news becomes official and the line moves.

The Bears have a weird offense. Tribusky — the 2nd overall pick from 2017 — has not been an effective passer. That said, his numbers probably aren’t as bad as you think. He’s completing 65% of his passes while keeping the ball relatively safe (20 TD:9 INT) despite having the 4th highest aDOT (average depth of target) in the league (behind Fitzpatrick, Winston, and Josh Allen). Their receiving options are speedster Taylor Gabriel, slot receiver Allen Robinson, rookie Anthony Miller, tight end Trey Burton, and running back Tarik Cohen. On the ground, Jordon Howard has been a disaster, but Tribusky himself has been a very effective scrambler.

Image result for mitch trubisky scramble

Look at that boy move.

The offensive line plays decently enough, but took a big hit when they lost RG Kyle Long in week 8. Long was replaced by rookie James Daniels, who has been a disaster.

It’s an odd, very un2018like roster compilation. But they still rank 10th in offensive DVOA.

Detroit’s defense:
This defense has been an unmitigated disaster for most of the season. Their pass defense is god-awful — they posses a never sought after combination of inability to cover with inability to rush the passer. CB Darius Slay is fully healthy again, but he’s having a year which he’d like to forget (I recommend lots of alcohol). PFF has charted Slay as allowing a 103.4 QB rating when targeted this season. As a unit, the Lions rank 31st in pass defense DVOA (hint: there are only 32 teams in the entire league).

They play much better against the run, especially after trading for Damon “Snacks” Harrison. Since trading for Harrison, the Lions have given up 3.88 ypc. That said, they still rank 23rd in run defense DVOA and the Giants have had some of the worst run defenses in the league even with Harrison. Snacks is the man, but a single defensive tackle simply doesn’t make that big of a difference.

TL;DR Conclusion: The Bears dropped a 34 burger on the Lions just two weeks ago. Though Darius Slay did not play in that game, he’s been very beatable this year. Assuming Tribusky can play, I don’t expect the Bears to have trouble moving the ball on this “defense.” And I’m betting he will play.

When Detroit has the ball:
The Lions offense looks.. different then it did a few weeks ago. First, they traded Golden Tate to the Eagles. Then they lost pro bowl guard TJ Lang to a concussion. Then they lost WR Marvin Jones to a toe injury. Finally, last week their star rookie RB Kerryon Johson sprained his knee. Though technically Jones and Johnson (please get less generic names) have not been ruled out, neither are practicing. I’d consider them both unlikely to play.

As for the rest of the Lions offense, it really hasn’t been pretty. Matt Stafford is rocking “meh” numbers (technical term): 66.2% completion percentage, 2,605 yards, 17 TDs, 8 picks. Would you believe me if I told you that Tribusky has thrown more TDs than Stafford? Well, you should.. because he has.

Without Tate and Marvin Jones, the Lions will rely on Kenny Golladay – who has been fantastic. Behind Golladay is a bunch of receivers you’ve never heard of, as well as pass catching specialist RB Theo Riddick. Without Kerryon Johnson, I’d expect LeGarrette “he’s still in the league?” Blount (actual nickname) to get the bulk of the carries. So yeah, it’s not pretty.

Chicago’s defense:
Maybe you’ve heard of them? They’re the best defense in the league by virtually ever metric out there. Rushing the passer will be Khalil Mack and Akeim Hicks, both over 30 pressures on the season. At corner will be Kyle Fuller, Prince Amukamara (not a real Price), and Bryce Callahan. All 3 have numbers that would make Darrius Slay jealous.

Oh, and against the run? They have the best run defense in the league, per DVOA.

TL:DR Conclusion: The Bears defense fucks.

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