When the Bears (3-7) face the Lions (0-9-1) for the traditional early-game NFL Thanksgiving on Thursday (12:30 p.m. ET, Fox), there’s going to be a lot of pressure on the two team under- feeders in NFC North. Chicago, with hopes of a fading playoff comeback, need a win to avoid hastening the end of the Matt Nagy era. Detroit, under Dan Campbell, is running out of good opportunities to avoid a winless season.
The Bears will start again Andy Dalton in midfield with rookie Justin Fields in the first round (ribs) hurt. The Lions aren’t sure if Jared Goff (oblique) can return as a game-time decision, which would give Tim Boyle a second straight start.
Chicago will also be without star defensive player Khalil Mack, who is out for the rest of the season with a foot injury. Offense will also be free of wide receiver Allen Robinson (hamstring) and backup running back Damien Williams (calf). Detroit hopes to take advantage of those problems to drag the house into a nasty mess.
Here’s everything there is to know about the Lions vs. Bears in Week 12, featuring updated odds, trends and our predictions for the 2021 NFL Thanksgiving game.
Lions and Bears Odds for NFL Thanksgiving
- Transmitted: Bears of 3
- On lower: 41.5
- Moneyine: Bear -164, Lion +138
The bears are still attached to favorite goals on the field when taking into account their major injuries and recent play. However, Dalton gave them a shock chance against Raven at home in Week 11. The Lions are on a low draw against the Steelers and a low loss to the Browns.
(betting odds per FanDuel Sportsbook)
All-time series Lions vs. Bears
These longtime rivals have played together for more than 80 years, with the first meeting taking place in 1930. In those 183 games, the Bears had a 103-75-5 advantage. They have won six of their last seven games, with the only loss being in Chicago last season. The Bears won three games in a row in Detroit’s Ford Field, including a 24-20 on Thanksgiving two seasons ago in 2019.
Three trends to know
—55 percent of spread bettors are siding with the Bears because the numbers in their favor are so low. The Lions and Bears were close on record, but Chicago played better overall despite some coaching and staffing issues.
—62 percent of over/under bets think the low total is a bit too low due to the teams being overly defensive and the conditions showing some good attacking play, especially on the Bears side.
—The Bears are 4-6 to odds and 3-7 in a row in their past 10 games. The total is just over three times in those games. The Lions are suffering from 6-4 ATS despite having a 0-9-1 SU record but the total score is only surpassed three times in their matches.
Three things to see
David Montgomery and Darnell Mooney
The Bears’ two best offensive players have matching initials and similar-sounding names. Montgomery has come back as healthy as their signature comeback and has had a great history against the Lions in his young career. Mooney, when Robinson was injured and entered freelancing, exploded with his size, speed, and hands across the field. Leo will also try to slow down.
D’Andre Swift and TJ Ho Chickenon
The Lions only have two players of fearsome skill in Swift, a cunning recoil who has also proven to be a powerful power runner, and Ho Chickenon, a tight finish that creates a mismatch. Campbell and offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn did not stop feeding Swift for two games after the bye, while Ho Chickenon bounced up and down because of QB play. If the Bears contain Swift and make sure to focus on Ho Chickenon’s coverage versus limited wide receivers, the Lions should join for tougher offensive results.
How will the Bears respond to Nagy?
Campbell had at times his team overplayed, including two weeks with almost no win. Realizing that Nagy was no longer getting much of a benefit from his team, this put him on the brink of being fired as the chair under him couldn’t get any hotter. Will the Bears rally and extend his tenure? Or will losing to a championship team mean a big change before Week 13? Keep stable.
140.5. That’s the average dash per game the Lions defense delivers, ranking 31st in the NFL just ahead of the Chargers. The Bears want to return Montgomery to the success he enjoyed in the second half of last season. He can get chunky runs and also makes Dalton’s life easier in the passing game. His consistent use and efficient production are the keys to avoiding discomforts.
Prediction of Lions vs. Bears
Dalton will make the Bears focus on his leadership and maximize the attack around him. Montgomery and Mooney will be a dynamic duo with aggressive attacking play, setting up big plays at the bottom. The Lions, whoever is on QB, can’t be compared effectively as the Bears are positioned much better, even without Mack, to slow down their attack.
Bear 27, Lion 17