Chicago Bears vs. Detroit Lions: Storylines, prediction for a game with a lot riding on it

What is our prediction for the Thanksgiving Detroit Lions vs. Chicago Bears matchup, what are the main storylines, and the current NFL odds?

There are several ways this prediction for the Chicago Bears vs. Detroit Lions Thanksgiving matchup could go. Despite the playoffs essentially being out of the window for both franchises in 2021, this game still has a lot of significance for both teams. Let’s take a look through the main storylines and the NFL odds for this game before making a prediction as to how Bears at Lions may go.

Chicago Bears vs. Detroit Lions Prediction | Top storylines for this Thanksgiving matchup

For a game between two teams with a combined three wins, there are a lot of intriguing storylines involved in this game. While the playoffs might be out of the picture, neither team can really afford a loss here. For the Bears, any slim hopes they harbor of heading to the postseason would be gone if they lose this game. Not having Justin Fields available is a blow, but Andy Dalton is a more than adequate backup.

There are just seven more games for the Lions to try and get their first victory in 2021. When you look across the rest of the schedule, this might be their easiest game. With games against the Denver Broncos, Atlanta Falcons, and Seattle Seahawks, they will have more opportunities. However, all three of those games are on the road, making them all tougher than this one.

Will this be Matt Nagy’s final game leading the Bears?

While potentially preventing an 0-16-1 record is a big motivational factor for the Lions, we will see how motivated the Bears are. A story broke Tuesday that regardless of Thursday’s result, Bears head coach Matt Nagy will be fired. Nagy denied the rumors during his media availability Tuesday. On Good Morning Football Thursday, Stacey Jones further denied the rumors citing a number of sources within the organization, including reporting George McCaskey addressed the players to deny the rumor.

The way we see Chicago’s players respond in this matchup will be telling. There have been reports that Nagy has lost the locker room this season. If the Bears come out looking flat and disinterested, that might prove those rumors to be true. However, if the team comes out fighting for their head coach’s future in this game, they could somewhat change the narrative.

It does seem likely that this season will be Nagy’s last in Chicago. The strange thing is that his record as Bears head coach is by no means a disaster. Overall, Nagy is 31-27. And through his first three seasons, he went 28-20, making the playoffs in two of those years.

The problem for Nagy is that this roster was viewed as one that should be achieving more than simply making the playoffs and losing in the first round. Not all of it is his fault, but he looks set to pay the price. It seems that all that is left to be answered is whether Nagy will be the first Bears head coach fired during the season in the franchise’s 101-year history.

Jared Goff fighting for his future as a starting QB

While Nagy is fighting for his future with the Bears, Jared Goff is fighting for his future — not just with the Lions, but as a starter in the NFL.

Throughout his career, Goff has been questioned. Even when he led the Rams to the Super Bowl in 2018, it did not really silence the doubters. Instead, many pointed to Sean McVay as the “QB whisperer” who was responsible for both the success of the team and his QB.

While QB wins are a somewhat inconsequential stat, one nugget of information stands out. During his career, Goff is 42-35-1 as a starter. All 42 of those victories have come with McVay as his head coach. Under the leadership of Jeff Fisher, John Fassel, and Dan Campbell, Goff’s record is 0-15-1. Not all of that is his fault, but the numbers are still stark.

Supporters of Goff will point to the talent around him in Detroit as a major problem. While the Lions have quality players on their offensive line, T.J. Hockeson at tight end, and D’Andre Swift at running back, Goff’s wide receiver options have been among the worst in the league. His uncertain status for this Bears at Lions game makes it hard to make a prediction for the contest itself. Nonetheless, if Goff plays, he needs to make a statement on a national stage.

Goff’s OVM score

The problem is that Goff has not helped himself. Pro Football Network’s Offensive Value Metric grades a player’s performance based on metrics within his control. This season, Goff grades as the second-least-valuable QB within his environment in the league. Goff’s contract situation means that he will likely be in Detroit in 2022, but his performance in the coming weeks will give us an indication of what role he will play for the franchise next season.

Another chapter in a storied Thanksgiving tradition

Away from the drama surrounding the future of Nagy and Goff, there is a bigger historical context to this game. This will be the 19th time that the Bears and Lions have met on Thanksgiving. In fact, in the Lions’ storied Thanksgiving tradition, their first appearance in 1934 was against the Bears.

In that first matchup, the Bears emerged as 19-16 winners. The two teams then played each other on each of the following four Thanksgivings. The Lions led the Thanksgiving series 3-2 after those initial exchanges. The two sides would not face each other again until 1947 when the Bears came out on top 34-14.

Entering their 19th matchup, the Bears lead the series 10-8. They last met in 2019 when the Bears won 24-20, and they have played three times in the last decade. Before 2014, the Bears and Lions had not faced each other on Thanksgiving since 1999.

The Lions will be looking to end a two-game Thanksgiving losing streak to the Bears, while Detroit has lost its last four Thanksgiving games overall. Detroit’s last victory came in 2016 against the Vikings, and there would be no better way to snap that streak than by getting their first victory of the 2021 season.

Bears at Lions betting line and prediction

Given the Lions are 0-8-1 with uncertainty over who will be playing at QB, it is no surprise to see the current odds for this Bears at Lions matchup have Chicago as a 3-point favorite. Equally, given the struggles of both offenses, the total being set as low as 41.5 is hardly surprising.

The uncertainty over how the Bears will play this game and who is under center for the Lions makes it tough to make a firm prediction for this game. However, if Goff is playing and 100%, the Lions have a real chance to win on Thanksgiving.

The Bears are not playing good football right now, and the Lions’ defense has been inspired since coming off their bye. They have allowed just 29 total points in the past two weeks while forcing 5 turnovers. If their defense can play that way again, the Lions have a great chance to break their winless streak and pile the misery on Nagy.

If Goff is under center, the Lions are an intriguing pick to cause an upset. It is a different matter if Tim Boyle has to start, as he looked completely out of his depth in his first NFL start. Given the Bears’ struggles, Detroit should be able to avoid a Boyle-led embarrassment while the nation watches intently over their Thanksgiving lunch.

Bears at Lions prediction: Lions 16, Bears 13

Ben Rolfe is a Senior Managing Editor at Pro Football Network and is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can find him on Twitter @BenRolfePFN.

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