After a series of lackluster games on Monday Night Football the NFL serves up a compelling matchup between the defending NFC North Champion Chicago Bears and the upstart Detroit Lions. The Bears are trying to find some sort of consistency as they try to get back into the title mix while the Lions would be happy to maintain the status quo seeing how they’ve gone 4-0 to this point.

CHICAGO BEARS AT DETROIT LIONS—OCTOBER 10, 2011 5:35 PM PACIFIC

Game opened with the Lions a six point home favorite and they’ve been bet down to 5 at most sportsbooks. It’s easy to make the case that the Lions are overpriced due to their red hot start and the public perception that Chicago is incompetent. While that pricing dynamic may be true to some extent this looks like a spot that strongly favors the home team.

With the high level of parity in the National Football League games often revolve around emotional/subjective factors including scheduling, travel and motivation. Playing on Monday Night Football (or the Sunday Prime Time game) is always a big deal for the host team and its especially true for Detroit in this game. They’ll make their first appearance on Monday Night Football in nearly a decade and in the midst of a huge run for Detroit sports in general. The Tigers are in the AL Championship Series, the Red Wings have just resumed play in the self glossed ‘Hockeytown USA’ and Michigan football is also on the upswing. All of those storylines are secondary to the 4-0 start of this Detroit Lions team. It’s not hyperbole to suggest that this is one of the biggest games in the venerable Lions’ franchise history in the past several decades.

From a tactical standpoint, the matchup also favors Detroit with their potent offense led by Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson. Their defense is also solid and particularly up front, which will make life difficult for Jay Cutler behind his patchwork—and porous—offensive line. The Bears have lost money in road games overall since 2009 (7-9 ATS) and are 1-4 ATS as a road dog of +3′ to +7. They’re 2-4 ATS in their last 6 dome games and 5-9 ATS in their last 14 against opponents with winning records. Most problematically, they’ve struggled against teams that run an ‘up tempo’ offense—in games with a total between 42′ and 49 points Chicago is 4-12 ATS (5-11 SU) since 2009. Simply put, this isn’t a matchup that is advantageous to this Bears’ team.

It’s difficult to extrapolate the ATS performance of the Lions during their ‘rebuilding’ phase to the current incarnation, but to the extent that it matters Detroit has been very good to their financial backers. They’ve covered 11 of their last 17 at Ford Field and have performed well in the month of October with a 6-2 ATS record since 2009. Although its possible to make a theoretical case for the veteran Bears representing ‘value’, my preference is to back the more motivated side that also looks to have some significant tactical edges.

Bet Detroit Lions -5 over Chicago Bears

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