When the Bears (3-7) travel to face the Lions (0-9-1) for the traditional early NFL Thanksgiving game on Thursday (12:30 p.m. ET, Fox), there will be plenty of pressure on the two bottom-feeders in the NFC North. Chicago, with its hopes for a playoff return faded, needs a win to keep from 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 be starting veteran Andy Dalton at quarterback again with first-round rookie Justin Fields (ribs) hurting. 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 also will missing star defensive player Khalil Mack, out for the season with a foot injury. The offense also will be without wide receiver Allen Robinson (hamstring) and reserve running back Damien Williams (calf). Detroit will hope to take advantage of those issues to pull the home upset.
Here’s everything to know about betting on Lions vs. Bears in Week 12, including updated odds, trends and our prediction for the 2021 NFL Thanksgiving game.
MORE THANKSGIVING PICKS: Straight up | Against the spread
Lions vs. Bears odds for NFL Thanksgiving
- Spread: Bears by 3
- Over/under: 41.5
- Moneyine: Bears -164, Lions +138
The Bears have been lingering around field-goal favorites when taking into account their key injuries and recent play. Dalton did, however, give them a chance to shock the Ravens at home in Week 11. The Lions are coming off a low-scoring tie at the Steelers and low-scoring loss at the Browns.
(betting odds per FanDuel Sportsbook)
Lions vs. Bears all-time series
These long-time division rivals have played each other for more than 80 years, with the first meeting coming in 1930. in those 183 games, the Bears hold a strong 103-75-5 edge. They have won six of the past seven, with the lone loss coming in Chicago last season. The Bears have won three consecutive games in Detroit’s Ford Field, including 24-20 on Thanksgiving two seasons ago in 2019.
Three trends to know
—55 percent of spread bettors are siding with the Bears given the number is very low in their favor. The Lions and Bears are close in records, but Chicago has played better overall despite some coaching and personnel issues.
—62 percent of over/under bettors think the low total is a little too low given the teams have overachieved defensively and the conditions call for some good offense, especially on the Bears’ side.
—The Bears are 4-6 against the spread and 3-7 straight up in their past 10 games. The total has gone over only three times in those games. The Lions are 6-4 ATS despite their 0-9-1 SU record but the total also has gone over only three times in their games.
Three things to watch
David Montgomery and Darnell Mooney
The Bears’ two best offensive skill players have matching initials and similar sounding names. Montgomery is back healthy as their featured back and has had a great history against the Lions in his young career. Mooney, with Robinson hurting and heading into free agency, has exploded with his size, speed and hands all over the field. The Lions will have their hands full trying to slow down either.
D’Andre Swift and T.J. Hockenson
The Lions have only two daunting skill players in Swift, a shifty receiving back who also has proved to be a strong power runner and Hockenson, a mismatch-creating tight end. Campbell and offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn have relentless fed Swift in two games after the bye, while Hockenson has been up-and-down because of the QB play. Should the Bears contain Swift and make sure to focus coverage on Hockenson vs. limited wide receivers, the Lions should be in for more tough offensive results.
How will the Bears respond for Nagy?
Campbell has had his team overachieve at times, including the past two weeks of near victories. The perception is that Nagy isn’t getting as much out of his team anymore, which has him on the brink of firing as the seat under him cannot get any hotter. Will the Bears rally and extend his tenure? Or will losing to a winless team mean a big change before Week 13? Stay tuned.
Stat that matters
140.5. That’s how many rushing yards per game on average the Lions’ defense yields, No. 31 in the NFL just ahead of the Chargers. The Bears want to get Montgomery back to the success he enjoyed during the breakout second half of last season. He can get chunk runs and also make Dalton’s life easier in the passing game. His consistent usage and effective production are key to avoiding the upset.
Lions vs. Bears prediction
Dalton will get the Bears focused with his leadership and maximize the offense around him. Montgomery and Mooney will be a dynamic duo with the rushing attack setting up big plays downfield. The Lions, whoever’s at QB, cannot match the efficiency as the Bears are much better positioned, even without Mack, to slow down their offense.
Bears 27, Lions 17