The Detroit Lions are rapidly losing ground in the NFC North and will try to avoid a third straight loss when they host the Chicago Bears in the annual Thanksgiving game on Thursday. The Lions had the misfortune of playing a pair of division leaders in back-to-back weeks and had no answers on offense against the Arizona Cardinals or New England Patriots. The Bears are pulling out of their own funk with back-to-back wins as they try to get back into the race.
Detroit has been leaning heavily on its defense all season but showed some cracks in the unit while getting blasted 34-9 by the New England Patriots on Sunday. The Patriots steered away from the Lions’ strength along the defensive line with a series of quick passes – a strategy Chicago has the personnel to employ. The Bears’ defense was a big question mark after surrendering a combined 106 points in back-to-back losses to New England and Green Bay but held Minnesota and Tampa Bay to a total of 26 in the last two contests.
TV: 12:30 p.m. ET, CBS.
LINE HISTORY: The opening line saw the Lions favored by 6.5, before jumping to Detroit -7 Monday. An opening total of 46.5 has since jumped as high as 47 before resting at 47 on Wednesday.
INJURY REPORT: Bears – LB Lance Briggs (Ques-Groin), CB Kyle Fuller (Doub-Knee) Lions – RB Reggie Bush (Prob-Ankle), WR Calvin Johnson (Prob-Ankle), T Riley Reiff (Ques-Leg), LB Ashlee Palmer (Ques-Concussion)
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “For the first time in NFL history all three Thanksgiving Day games feature an NFC filled lineup. The Lions will look to put a halt to a two-game losing skid while the Bears hope to extend a two-game winning streak in the opening game. Not good news for Detroit considering that teams off a pair of wins are 7-0 SU and 6-0-1 ATS on Turkey Day when facing an opponent off a pair of losses. Coupled with the Lions recent 1-9 SU mark on Thanksgiving Day, an upset would be no surprise.” – Covers Expert Marc Lawrence
CHEERLEADER WAR: Neither the Bears or Lions have cheerleaders, so enjoy these fans.
ABOUT THE BEARS (5-6 SU, 5-6 ATS, 6-5 O/U): Chicago’s offense has been under some scrutiny and it generated only 68 yards while going scoreless in the first half on Sunday before taking advantage of some Tampa Bay turnovers to put up 21 third-quarter points in the 21-13 triumph. “Win or loss, we’re always trying to improve on offense,” quarterback Jay Cutler said on his radio show on ESPN 1000 on Monday. “We’re always looking at what we did wrong. This week’s a little bit different because we’ve got to move on.” The most consistent part of the offense has been running back Matt Forte, who could become a bigger part of the passing game this week as the Bears take on the NFL’s top-ranked rush defense.
ABOUT THE LIONS (7-4 SU, 5-6 ATS, 2-9 O/U): Matthew Stafford went 18-of-46 for a career-worst 39.1 completion percentage against New England but only some of that can be blamed on poor throws, as Detroit’s receivers had several notable drops in the red zone. “We’ve got to keep working at it, we’ve got to keep concentrating on it,” Lions coach Jim Caldwell told reporters of the drops. “Those are the things that stop drives and they certainly did stop some drives for us and kept us from getting a couple of scores.” Star receiver Calvin Johnson was targeted a total of 22 time in the last two games but only made nine catches for 117 yards.
*Bears are 2-10 ATS in their last 12 vs. NFC North.
*Under is 13-3 in Lions last 16 games following a SU loss of more than 14 points.
*Bears are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 meetings in Detroit.
COVERS CONSENSUS: 59.32 percent of Covers users are backing the Lions -7 with 60.8 percent on the over.
Philadelphia Eages at Dallas Cowboys (-3, 54.5)
The Dallas Cowboys have a pretty short turnaround after playing the late game on the road Sunday but should not lack energy when they take on the visiting Philadelphia Eagles in the annual Thanksgiving game on Thursday. The Cowboys and the Eagles enter the weekend tied for first in the NFC East and both are coming off impressive victories. Dallas had the luxury of a bye in Week 11 before the grind of two games in five days.
The Cowboys had to battle back from a 21-10 halftime deficit and earned a 31-28 win at the New York Giants on Sunday when Tony Romo found Dez Bryant in the end zone with 1:01 left. “It’s our job as coaches to make sure we understand the physical burden that they’ve been under,” Dallas coach Jason Garrett told reporters. “…But having said that we’ve got to get their minds forward and get ready for this next challenge.” The Eagles, who lead the NFC in total offense, will represent the biggest challenge for the Cowboys defense, which is surrendering an average of 355 yards.
TV: 4:30 p.m. ET, FOX.
LINE HISTORY: Neither the opening line of Cowboys -3 or opening total of 54.5 have moved.
INJURY REPORT: Eagles – LB Emmanuel Acho (Ques-Thurs) Cowboys – DT Josh Brent (Ques-Conditioning)
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “Battle of division leaders in a possible playoff preview in Dallas where the Cowboys have struggled on Thanksgiving Day against .500 or better opponents, covering only seven of the last 19 match ups. On the flip side, NFL home favorites seeking revenge on Turkey Day are 16-1 SU and 15-2 ATS of late.” – Covers Expert Marc Lawrence
ABOUT THE EAGLES (8-3 SU, 7-4 ATS, 8-3 O/U): Philadelphia fell on its face in a 53-20 loss at Green Bay on Nov. 16 but bounced right back on Sunday as LeSean McCoy ran for 130 yards and a score in a 43-24 win over the Tennessee Titans. The Eagles are undefeated within the division and earned a 24-22 win at Dallas in the final week of the regular season to lock up the NFC East crown in 2013. “We’re not talking about first-place games because they don’t crown a champion after Thursday’s game,” Philadelphia coach Chip Kelly told reporters. “We’re just excited about the opportunity to go play against a really good team.”
ABOUT THE COWBOYS (8-3 SU, 6-5 ATS, 6-4-1 O/U): Romo missed that Week 17 loss to the Eagles last season after undergoing back surgery but is rounding into health after another back scare a few weeks ago and threw for 275 yards and four touchdowns against the Giants. Romo was on the field with most of his teammates for Monday’s walk-through as the team accelerates it usual practice week. Taking some pressure off Romo is running back DeMarco Murray, who had his 10th 100-yard game of the season on Sunday and leads the league in rushing.
*Cowboys are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 home games.
*Over is 4-0 in Eagles last 4 games overall.
*Underdog is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 meetings.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The Cowboys -3 have 52.07 percent of Covers users, with the over seeing a huge 74.7 percent.
Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers (-1, 39.5)
The stakes are certainly not as high as when Seattle knocked off San Francisco in last season’s NFC Championship game, but Thursday’s outcome figures to have some major playoff ramifications when the 49ers host the Seahawks in a matchup of bitter NFC West rivals. With both teams trailing division-leading Arizona by two games and a rematch in Seattle looming in 17 days, the loser will face an uphill climb in the crowded NFC. “It’s a big game for us,” San Francisco safety Antoine Bethea said. “It’s our next game.”
The 49ers are riding a three-game winning streak – the victories coming by a combined 12 points – while the reigning Super Bowl champion Seahawks have won four of five to surge back into playoff contention. While the teams have split the past four meetings, the home side prevailing in each, Seattle outlasted San Francisco 23-17 in the NFC title game as cornerback Richard Sherman knocked away a pass in the end zone and promptly ripped 49ers wideout Michael Crabtree in a postgame interview. “We’re going to have to play great football,” Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson said. “Play lights out, that’s it.”
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC.
LINE HISTORY: The game originally opened as a pick’em before shifting to San Farncisco -1 late Tuesday. The total opened at 41 before being pushed down to 39.5 Tuesday.
INJURY REPORT: Seahawks – G James Carpenter (Ques-Ankle), DB Marcus Burley (Ques-Hamstring), C Max Unger (Ques-Ankle) 49ers – T Anthony Davis (Ques-Concussion), TE Vance McDonald (Ques-Hip)
WEATHER REPORT: Skies are expected to be partly cloudy with a game time temperature around 66°F. Winds will gust as high 10 mph towards the northwest.
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “Rare underdog role for the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks but perhaps justified given their struggles away from home, and the success of the host in this series – now 11-0 SU and 10-1 ATS the last five years. A loss will be crippling for either team. Expect this to be played with playoff intensity.” – Covers Expert Marc Lawrence
ABOUT THE SEAHAWKS (7-4 SU, 5-6 ATS, 7-4 O/U): Running back Marshawn Lynch has been a walking soap opera for Seattle, ranging from being fined for refusing to speak to the media to speculation about his future with the club and recurring back issues that forced him to briefly leave last week’s 19-3 win over the Cardinals. The spotlight will remain on Lynch, who rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown in last season’s playoff victory and has run for five touchdowns in the past five meetings (postseason included). Wilson has not passed for more than 211 yards during the current 4-1 stretch, but he been a dangerous threat out of the backfield with three 100-yard rushing games this season. The return of middle linebacker Bobby Wagner from injury provided a boost to the defense, which limited Arizona to 204 total yards last week.
ABOUT THE 49ERS (7-4 SU, 6-5 ATS, 4-7 O/U): San Francisco was teetering at .500 after back-to-back defeats against Denver and St. Louis, but showed its mettle by rebounding with an overtime victory at New Orleans before giving up a combined 23 points in narrow wins over the New York Giants and Washington. “You make a deposit in the toughness account and you’ll be able to make withdrawals from that later down the road,” coach Jim Harbaugh said. “We want to keep making those deposits.” Wideout Anquan Boldin, the epitome of that toughness, is coming off a nine-catch, 137-yard outing but Colin Kaepernick has thrown for only one scoring pass in each of the past five contests while running back Frank Gore has not cracked 100 yards since Oct. 5. Linebacker Aldon Smith had two sacks in his second game back from suspension and has six in his last six contests versus Seattle.
*Seahawks are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 road games.
*Under is 5-1 in 49ers last 6 games on grass.
*Seahawks are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 meetings.
COVERS CONSENSUS: 53.20 percent of Covers users are behind the Seahawks +1, with 50.9 percent taking the over.