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The Comprehensive Guide to Bears vs. Lions

Take a dive into the stats, betting lines, and matchup analysis before the Bears vs. Lions Week 12 Thanksgiving meeting at Ford Field.

Bears vs. Lions kicks off Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, at 11:30 AM CST. The beloved are currently three-point road favorites. Due to the short week for both teams, this will be a shorter preview than usual.

Bears vs. Lions Betting Lines

Bears vs. Lions Spread and model handicaps.

In the graphic above, I have noted the spread and the projected spreads according to my two models, PFF, and 538’s two models for Bears vs. Lions. Why use two models from one source? I like to use multiple models to crosscheck each other. The more models that say something is a good bet, the more assurances you get. That’s what all of us gamblers want, assurances.

Bears vs. Lions Cover History

The Bears have shown a tendency to cover as road favorites against the worst teams in the league.

In the graph, the blue line represents the expected point differential based on the spread. For example, if the spread is CHI -7, the blue line will have a data point at 3, since the Bears are expected to win by three. The orange line represents the actual result. Therefore, any data point above the blue line means that the Bears covered the spread and any data point below the blue line means the Bears did not cover.

In Matt Nagy’s tenure as head coach of the Bears, he has compiled a record against the spread (ATS) of 28-32. As a favorite, Nagy’s teams are 14-14 ATS. On the road, his teams are 14-15 ATS. Combining those two factors, Nagy’s teams have a record of 5-6 ATS as a road favorite. This represents a cover rate of 46%, versus the league average cover rate of 48%.

“Good coaches win. Great coaches cover the spread.”

The Lions have failed to cover in embarrassing fashion a few times in recent history, however, they have been feisty under first-year head coach Dan Campbell.

Since 2018, the Lions compiled a record against the spread (ATS) of 28-30. As an underdog, they are 23-23 ATS. At home, they are 12-16 ATS. Combining those two factors, the Lions have a record of 10-12 ATS as a home dog since 2018. This represents a cover rate of 45% versus the league average cover rate of 52%.

In 2021, under Dan Campbell, the Lions have gone 6-4 ATS. At home, they are 2-2 ATS. The Lions have been home dogs in all of their home games under Dan Campbell.

Bears vs. Lions Team Stats

Bears vs Lions will most likely not be a shootout, based on offensive ranks.

The final ranking for each unit is the average of DVOA, EPA per Play (10% win probability filter), and success rate.

DVOA is a metric developed by Football Outsiders that measures a team’s efficiency by comparing success on every single play to the league average based on situation and opponent.

Meanwhile, EPA per Play is a stat that aims to measure the value of individual plays in terms of points using historical data for down, distance, and field position.

Finally, success rate measures the percentage of plays that generate positive EPA on offense or a negative EPA on defense. 

By the numbers, the Lions and Bears are both bottom-dwellers on offense. However, the Bears have boasted a more potent rushing attack. On defense, the Bears have the upper hand with a middling unit, according to the ranks. The Lions rank near the bottom of the NFL in most categories.

Lions Offensive Overview

Play-Caller: Dan Campbell

Personnel Groupings: RB-TE [WR]

  • 1-1 [3WR]: 66% (Pass Rate = 72%)
  • 1-2 [2WR]: 16% (Pass Rate = 40%)
  • 2-1 [2WR]: 10% (Pass Rate = 48%)

Play Action %: 18.4% (28th)

Screen %: 11.1% (12th)

Third Down Conversion Rate: 32% (31st)

Red Zone TD Conversion Rate: 47.8% (30th)

Explosive Play / Pass / Run Rate: 10% (19th) / 7% (24th) / 13% (7th)

Score %: 28% (30th)

Turnover %: 12.1% (17th)

Positional Breakdown

Detroit’s offense is the most similar in ranks to the Bears offense of any opponent faced this year.

The “Pos. Rank” uses multiple position-specific stats to generate a relative ranking for each player at their position. The percentile is simply a representation of their rank. For example, D’Andre Swift ranks 20th out of 64 qualifying RB’s. This results in a percentile of 69% (MATH = 1 – (20/64)). In the right-most column, you can see the stats used to generate the ranking.

Offensive line stats represent the entire unit, rather than any individual player. I believe that it is just too subjective of a stat to place statistical blame on individuals without knowing their assignments.

Lions Defensive Overview

DC: Aaron Glenn

Base: 3-4

Blitz %: 25.7% (12th)

Third Down Conversion Rate: 41.9% (21st)

Red Zone TD Conversion Rate: 79.3% (32nd)

Explosive Pass / Run Rate: 12% (30th) / 12% (19th)

Score %: 45.4% (29th)

Turnover %: 11.1% (19th)

Positional Breakdown

Detroit’s defense leaves a lot to be desired, as they have been decimated by injuries.

The “Pos. Rank” uses multiple position-specific stats to generate a relative ranking for each player at their position. The percentile is simply a representation of their rank. For example, Tracy Walker ranks fourth among 78 qualifying S players. This results in a percentile of 95% (MATH = 1 – (4/78)). In the right-most column, you can see the stats used to generate the ranking.

Bears vs. Lions Injury Report

Injuries. All of the injuries.

Both teams are without multiple key starters, and even more regular starters.

Bears vs. Lions Summary

Bears vs. Lions may be one of the least intriguing Thanksgiving Day matchups in quite some time. Especially once you consider that Justin Fields will not be playing for the Bears. Regardless, it is mid-day football on Thanksgiving, meaning that we will all be watching. Let’s hope for an exciting game and some progress from the young Bears players.

Prediction:

CHI: 21
DET: 20

Extra Points

Chicago’s offensive positional ranks.
The Bears’ defensive positional ranks.

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