Two teams that truly despise each other face off on Monday night this week as the NFC North-leading Chicago Bears, coming off a bye, host the Detroit Lions for the first of two regular-season meetings.
The Lions’ last meeting with the Bears resulted in a fourth-quarter brawl and $62,500 in fines. Chicago cornerback D.J. Moore started the skirmish when he retaliated against quarterback Matthew Stafford after Stafford threw him to the ground.
Detroit saved its season last week. Staring at a 1-4 start, Detroit rallied from a 10-point deficit to the Eagles by scoring twice in the final 3:32 to send the game into overtime. Kicker Jason Hanson connected on his fourth field goal of the day in OT to give the Lions the win. Stafford passed for 311 yards, including a 17-yard TD to Nate Burleson to start the comeback.
The Lions have scored 73 points in the fourth quarter this season, trailing only the Denver Broncos’ 79. The same offense, however, has produced just 50 points and two touchdowns in the first three quarters five games into the season.
The Bears have won three straight and has been led by an offensive defense. The Bears are the first team in NFL history with five interception-return touchdowns in its first five games. Chicago has returned an interception for a touchdown in each of its past three games, the first time in franchise history the Bears have accomplished the feat.
And linebacker Lance Briggs and cornerback Charles Tillman are the first set of teammates in NFL history to each have an interception-return touchdown in consecutive games. Chicago also has the stingiest rushing defense, allowing an average of 65.8 yards per game.
The Chicago passing attack has taken a hit with the loss of wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, reportedly to a fractured hand. The rookie has 14 catches, but the Bears will get wide receiver Earl Bennett back from a two-game absence due to a hand injury.
The Bears have won three straight Monday night games at home and four of their past five Monday-nighters in Chicago. But before the Bears get too cocky, they should know their history. In five Monday night meetings, the Lions have a 4-1 edge and beat Chicago on MNF last year in Motown.
How will Chicago defend Detroit’s passing game? In recent weeks, Stafford has seen a lot of deep zones and almost no man-to-man coverage. This happens because defenses do not respect the threat of the run, so they don’t have to crowd the box. Chicago will likely do the same by staying in its Cover 2 and forcing Stafford to put long drives together with short passes.
Kevin Smith gives the Lions a little explosiveness as a runner or receiver, and if they can get RB Mikel Leshoure back on the field, it could force the Bears to rethink exclusive Cover 2 looks.
These two teams split last year, each winning at home. Overall, however, Chicago has won seven of eight in the series.
VEGASSPORTSBETTING ODDS: Bears -6 (47)
LIONS : QB Matthew Stafford won only MNF start vs. Chi. (10/10/11) & had 107.7 rating. Lions are 10-0 when Stafford has 105 rating. Aims for 3rd 300-yard game in row … RB Mikel Leshoure has 228 scrimmage yards (114 per game) in 2 road games. RB Joique Bell is 2nd among NFC RBs with 178 rec. yards …
WR Calvin Johnson has TD in 2 of past 3 meetings. Since 2008, has 46 TD catches, most in NFL. In past 5 road games, has 44 catches for 851 yards (170.2 per game) & 4 TDs. Since 2011, has 2,239 rec. yards, most in NFL & his 106.6 yards per game avg. during span ranks 1st. Since 2010, TE Brandon Pettigrew is 3rd among TEs with 180 catches …
DE Cliff Avril had 2 sacks last week. Has 5 sacks in past 3 meetings. Is 1 of 2 NFC players with 14 sacks (14.5) & 6 FFs (6) since 2011. Since 2010, DT Ndamukong Suh has 16.5 sacks, tied for most by NFL DT.
BEARS: QB Jay Cutler has won 5 of past 6 starts vs. Det. & has 100 rating in 4. Incl. playoffs, when he has 100 rating, his teams are 25-0 … RB Matt Forté has 4 TDs (2 rush, 2 rec.) in past 4 meetings…In past 2, WR Brandon Marshall has 19 catches for 282 yards (141 per game) & 2 TDs. Since 2007, has 509 catches, 3rd most in NFL. WR-KR-PR Devin Hester had 82-yard PR-TD in last meeting. Incl. playoffs, has 19 total return TDs (12 PR, 6 KR, 1 missed FG), tied with HOFer Deion Sanders for most in NFL history …
1st team in NFL history with 5 INT-TDs in 1st 5 games. Have INT-TD in 3 consecutive games for 1st time in club history. CB Charles Tillman had INT-TD in last meeting & has 3 INT-TDs vs. Det. Tillman (7) & Briggs (5) have most INT-TDs in team history. CB Tim Jennings has 5 INTs in past 6. S Major Wright has 3 INTs in past 3, incl. INT-TD. Had INT-TD in last meeting. DE Julius Peppers has 10 sacks in 8 games vs. Det.
VEGAS TRENDS: Lions are 1-6-1 ATS in their last 8 games following a S.U. win. Lions are 1-6-1 ATS in their last 8 road games. Lions are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games overall. Lions are 1-8-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record. Bears are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games in October. Bears are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 Monday games. Bears are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall. Over is 5-2 in the last 7 meetings.