Detroit (-2.5) at Chicago
Note: Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler was cleared to play Thursday and will be under center for the Bears on Sunday.
This NFC North battle will help break the logjam at the top of the division standings. And much of the outcome hinges upon whether or not Bears’ QB Jay Cutler (91.7 passer rating) will be cleared to play, or if backup Josh McCown (100.2 passer rating), author of last Monday night’s upset win in Green Bay, will get the call.
The Lions worked over the Chicago defense to the tune of 40 points when these teams met in Detroit back in Week 4, but the Bears’ offense also hung 32 points on the Detroit defense on that same day.
However, the Lions held leads of 30-10 and 40-16 before Chicago landed a pair of late TDs and two-point conversions.
The Quality Stats tell us that these two teams are pretty evenly matched, as most of the comparisons show differences of no more than four or five positions in the standings.
Overall, Detroit grades out a little higher than Chicago, particularly in the key categories of Passer Rating Differential and Real QB Rating Differential.
Neither team has shined defensively this year, while both have moved the ball quite well and rank No. 2 (Chicago, 28.2 PPG) and No. 6 (Detroit, 27.1 PPG) in scoring offense.
Yes, it's probably shocking to most fans that the Bears have scored more points this year than the Lions (226-217).
The Bears (No. 3 in Scoreability) have been one of the more efficient ssoring teams in the league this year, a fact boosted by six non-offensive touchdowns in typticall Chicago style (the Lions have produced just two non-offensive touchdowns).
All those game-breakers on defensive and special teams are the biggest reason Chicago is an impressive No. 3 in Total Team Yards (4,306) and No. 2 behind only Denver among teams that have played just eight games so far.
Detroit is a humble No. 13 in Total Team Yards and the talented offense has got little boost from the return game or defense in generating yardage.
But the Bears also possess one of the least efficient defenses (No. 24 in Bendability). Detroit is No. 16 in both “intelligence” categories through Week 9. (Chicago is No. 15 on the Intelligence Index; Detroit No. 17).
Ultimately, while we were impressed with McCown’s effort in Green Bay last week, enthusiasm is tempered by the fact that he beat backup QB Seneca Wallace, not the injured Aaron Rodgers.
This Sunday the Lions’ No. 1 signal caller, the very capable Matt Stafford (94.8 passer rating), will be lined up opposite the weak Chicago defense.
But now that we know Cutler is playing, and that the Bears can strike from anywhere, and that Detroit's defense leaves big gaps (No. 27 in Defensive Real Passing YPA), it's hard to picture the Lions sweeping the season series in Chicago.
Pick: Chicago 28, Detroit 27