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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, November 25, 2014 at 7:00 AM

As promised we’re going to run three days of previews for the big Thanksgiving Day NFL slate, beginning with today’s look at the Chicago Bears/Detroit Lions game that kicks off the big day. This longtime rivalry carries added importance this year because Detroit is a playoff contender desperately in need of a win.

Two weeks ago, the Lions were 7-2, trailing only Arizona at the top of the NFC standings. They had a chance to be a #1 seed. But, road losses to Arizona and New England have knocked Detroit well down the ladder. Now they trail Green Bay (8-3) at the top of the NFC North, and are in a tight Wildcard race with several other contenders.


NFC Wildcard Race (best two get in)

Dallas/Philadelphia 8-3 (one wins the division)

Detroit 7-4

Seattle 7-4

San Francisco 7-4

It’s unlikely that both Seattle and San Francisco are going to fall apart. And, they play each other twice…so somebody’s going to win those games. Detroit really can’t afford a loss to Chicago. Too many good teams fighting for too few spots.

Chicago’s won two games in a row, while Detroit has lost two games in a row. Should you ride the “momentum” of the Bears vs. the potential “choke” in play with the Lions? Or, is this where Detroit settles its ship because they’re stepping way down in class after two very tough road challenges? Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats have to say Game One of Thursday’s NFL Tripleheader…


Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)

Chicago: 5-6 (#13 schedule in USA Today)

Detroit: 7-4 (#18 schedule in USA Today)

Schedule strength is usually very tightly packed around the #16 spot in a 32-team league. So, very little difference here in the schedules. Detroit clearly has been playing better football over the whole season. Note that this is the first of two meetings between the Bears and Lions, so those schedule rankings are about to spread further apart.



Chicago: 5.4 on offense, 5.9 on defense

Detroit: 5.1 on offense, 5.0 on defense

Chicago’s defense continues to be a big problem. They’ve done a bit better at keeping bad teams out of the end zone. But, they’re letting most everybody eat up chunks of yardage. No way coach Marc Trestman can keep his job if that continues. The offense hasn’t done enough to make up for that. Detroit’s turned into a grinder under new head coach Jim Caldwell. That’s an extreme switch from past teams that played too wide-open on offense. Fixing the turnover problem meant a big reduction in yardage. Edge to Detroit with +0.1 being much better than -0.5 even before home field is factored into the mix.


Turnover Differential

Chicago: -3

Detroit: +3

Both of these offenses used to be so similar. Now, only Jay Cutler keeps making boneheaded mistakes in the passing game! Detroit is a playoff contender because they’re playing the percentages better while putting a good defense on the field. Chicago is a non-contender because a mistake-prone offense is matched with a bad defense.


Market Performance

Chicago: 5-6 ATS

Detroit: 5-6 ATS

Both teams have been slightly overrated by the markets. Obviously, that’s changed over the last two weeks. Chicago had been a woeful 3-6 ATS before covering against Minnesota and Tampa Bay. Detroit had been a moneymaker at 5-4 ATS before the losses to Arizona and New England.


Current Line: Detroit by 7, total of 47.5

Detroit is getting a lot of “must-win” credit in that market price, rather than any sort of respect for the “momentum” of Chicago. The raw stats don’t justify that high a number. But, the turnover potential could certainly put the Lions over the top. Should you bet the must-win team that’s coming off two losses? Or, does a conservative attack from the home favorite suggest that betting value is actually on the touchdown underdog?

JIM HURLEY knows how important it is to win on Thanksgiving Day. Not only does it make the family festivities more enjoyable…but it launches a huge stretch of football that carries through the NFL stretch run…the college football conference championships and bowls…and then the NFL playoffs. He’ll do whatever it takes to make sure your holiday feast includes BIG, JUICY WINNERS!

You’ll be able to purchase the full TURKEY SHOOT extravaganza right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about this annual NETWORK SHOWCASE or about extended service in football or basketball, call us in the office Tuesday or Wednesday during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155.

We’ll continue our Thanksgiving previews tomorrow and the next day. Here’s the full schedule for the holiday weekend…

Wednesday: NFL Early Look…Philadelphia at Dallas on FOX

Thanksgiving Day: NFL TV Preview…Seattle at San Francisco on NBC

Friday: College TV Preview…Arizona State at Arizona

Saturday: College TV Preview…Auburn at Alabama

Sunday: NFL TV Preview…Denver at Kansas City on NBC

Monday: NFL TV Preview…Miami at NY Jets on ESPN

Can you ever remember a Thanksgiving Day schedule loaded with such great action? Both the Lions and Cowboys are contenders…and they’re playing important games against divisional opponents! The whole week is going to be fantastic. Make sure you spend it with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!


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Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley

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