Chicago Bears (0-0) at Detroit Lions (0-0)
The Bears won 12 games in 2018 on the strength of a defense that led the NFL in first down rate allowed, but in 2019 they fell to just 8-8 and were noticeably worse on both sides of the ball. Part of it was their schedule got significantly tougher after facing one of the easiest in 2018, but their defense lost a pair of starters to free agency, lost their defensive coordinator to a head coaching job, and then lost Akiem Hicks for an extended period of time due to injury, after having the best injury luck in the league on defense in 2018, while their offense continued to have issues at the quarterback position and couldn’t hide them nearly as easily as they did in 2018 with their run game and offensive line struggling as well.
In 2020, I expect things to get worse. After some off-season departures and opt outs, the Bears have just 6 players remaining from their top-11 in snaps played from their dominant 2018 defense and all six players are coming off of down years relative to 2018 when Vic Fangio was defensive coordinator. They’ve also done little to replace the players they’ve lost and their one key off-season addition Robert Quinn is set to miss what would have been his debut with the team due to injury. The Bears still ranked 8th in first down rate allowed last season, but this year I don’t expect them to be nearly that good, especially without Quinn. On offense, the quarterback situation has yet to be resolved and their offensive line and running game figure to continue to be mediocre at best.
The Bears look like a bottom-5 team on paper, but this line suggests they’re essentially on par with the Lions, favoring the Lions by just 2 points. The Lions won’t have much homefield advantage due to pandemic restrictions, but very few games are decided by fewer than 2 points, so the Lions really just need to win to cover. The Lions probably won’t be a playoff team, but they should at least be competitive, similar to the start of last season when the Lions had a healthy Matt Stafford. The Lions aren’t fully healthy with top wide receiver Kenny Golladay out with injury, among other minor absences, but they were one of the most injury plagued teams in the league last season and even in their current injury state, they still have a substantial edge on the Bears in my roster rankings. I have this line calculated at Detroit -6, so we’re getting a great value with them at -2. This is my Pick of the Week.
Detroit Lions 24 Chicago Bears 17
Pick against the spread: Detroit -2
Confidence: Pick of the Week