The fun in the NFC North gets started in Week 1 with a rivalry game between the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions. At home, the Lions are three-point favorites with an over/under of 43.5 points.
The Lions are coming off a brutal 3-12-1 season in 2019 in Matt Patricia’s second year. Things started well enough for Detroit last year, but fell apart quickly when Matthew Stafford was lost to a back injury. The Lions ended up losing nine in a row to close out the 2019 campaign.
Meanwhile, the Bears were one of the biggest disappointments in the NFL last year. Expectations were high after Chicago won the NFC North in 2018. But the Bears took a big step back, going 8-8 in 2019, creating doubt about whether or not they’ll be able to bounce back in 2020.
Stick with Mitch
To the surprise of some, the Bears are sticking with Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback. Trubisky beat out Nick Foles for the starting job with no preseason games, although it’s unclear how long the leash will be if he struggles the way he did last season.
Of course, the key to getting Trubisky back to his 2018 form is the running game. The Bears ranked 27th in the NFL in rushing last season and need to get David Montgomery going so that they don’t ask too much of Trubisky.
In Week 1, the Chicago offense will be facing a modified version of the New England defense from a few years ago. Patricia has assembled several former Patriots in Detroit, most notably Trey Flowers, Jamie Collins, and Duron Harmon. Detroit also added Desmond Trufant and first-round pick Jeff Okudah to the secondary, making the Lions look more formidable defensively than they were a year ago.
Healthy or Not?
Before he was forced to the sidelines by an injury, Stafford was having one of the best seasons of his career. Through eight games, he had thrown 19 touchdowns and was averaging 320 yards per game. Assuming he’s healthy, Stafford has a chance to pick up where he left off last season, especially with an impressive set of receivers around him. That being said, nothing is certain with no formal preseason games for Stafford to test himself.
Keep in mind that the Chicago defense was one of the best in the NFL last year despite the team’s disappointing record. With the acquisition of Robert Quinn, the Bears have a second proven pass rusher to help complement Khalil Mack. The rest of the Chicago defense is in good shape, so they’ll make life difficult for Stafford, even if Detroit’s quarterback is healthy.
Who to Believe
This game could come down to whether you believe it’s more likely that Trubisky can bounce back from a low 2019 season or Stafford will come back healthy after last year’s injury. The third wild card in the equation is the Detroit defense, which looks good on paper but still has a lot to prove. At the end of the day, the safest bet in this game is the Chicago defense, so bet on the Bears as three-point underdogs.
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