NFC North showdown here as the Detroit Lions host the Chicago Bears. After a training camp battle with Nick Foles the Bears elected to roll with Mitchell Trubisky as their starter here, while Matthew Stafford is back healthy for Detroit. These are the two underdogs in the division, and it'll be interesting to see who makes a statement here. Oddsmakers have Detroit as a modest favorite.
Bears Running It BackThe Chicago Bears are coming off a very disappointing campaign where they regressed on both sides of the ball and missed the playoffs. They made a big splash this offseason by trading for Nick Foles, only for Foles to lose the training camp battle to Trubisky. Still though the trade and subsequent extension they gave Foles tell you all you need to know about their confidence in Trubisky. Unfortunately they didn't really do much to upgrade the weapons around whoever is under center besides adding the aging Ted Ginn and Jimmy Graham. They lost starting guard Kyle Long, and a handful of key guys on defense like linebackers Leonard Floyd and Nick Kwiatkowski, cornerback Prince Amukamara, and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
Speaking of the defense, it went downhill immediately after defensive coordinator Vic Fangio left, and can no longer be considered one of the best units in the league. They didn't really make many big acquisitions this offseason, which is puzzling considering they took a big step back last year. They're essentially just running it back with the same core, which obviously didn't work out last year. Trubisky was arguably the worst starting quarterback for much of last season, averaging a pitiful 6.1 yards per attempt. Head coach Matt Nagy appeared to lose all confidence in him, and significantly stripped down the playbook.
Lions Can Only Go UpLast year was a disaster for the Detroit Lions, as they finished an abysmal 3-12-1. That being said when you dig into it, it wasn't as bad as it seems on the surface. Just about everybody has forgotten by now, but they actually looked really good early on before Matthew Stafford got hurt. They started the year off 2-0-1 with wins over the Chargers and Eagles, and were inches away from beating the Chiefs in Week 4. Stafford is back healthy now, and the roster has been significantly upgraded around him. As a result of their poor record they got the third overall pick, which got them top cornerback Jeff Okudah.
They signed fellow cornerback Desmond Trufant away from the Falcons, giving them a great new duo in their secondary. They also signed linebacker Jamie Collins, safety Duron Harmon, and defensive tackle Danny Shelton from New England to give Matt Patricia by far the most talented defense he has had in Detroit. They've got a very deep backfield with D'Andre Swift, Kerryon Johnson, and now Adrian Peterson, and an enviable group of pass-catchers led by Kenny Golladay. However, Golladay might not play on Sunday due to a hamstring injury and is listed as doubtful. I'm really high on tight end T.J. Hockenson, and the offensive line should be solid. They aren't nearly as bad as many people seem to think, and there could be some value on them as a sleeper team moving forward.
Trends, courtesy of Covers.com: Lions are:
- 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games in September
- 1-5 ATS in their last 6 vs. NFC
- 0-6 ATS in their last 6 road games