Bears-Lions prop picks (10.10.11)

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The Lions passing attack is one of the best in the league at this point in the season and will be tough for the Bears to defend.
The Lions passing attack is one of the best in the league at this point in the season and will be tough for the Bears to defend.

Here is a look at hypothetical propositional wagers between the Bears and Lions.

First team to score

Lions. The Lions have begun the last two games in a rut and have had to climb their way out of big deficits, so there’s a recent history of slow starts for them. However, the last two weeks were on the road. With this one at home in prime time, led by a great offense against a shaky Bears defense, I think Detroit scores first.

First Bears player to score

Robbie Gould. If for no other reason than having to face an undefeated, red-hot Lions team on the road in a loud environment, the Bears might struggle to put points on the board. And when they do finally score for the first time, it’s likely to be from a Robbie Gould field goal.

First Bears player to catch a pass

Devin Hester. Against the Panthers, offensive coordinator Mike Martz saw an opening to run the ball a lot and he called eight straight run plays on the Bears’ first possession last week. Given the productivity of the Lions’ offense, Martz might feel more inclined to pass the ball this week. The problem is that the Bears offensive line still hasn’t gotten much better and Martz will want to prevent Cutler from taking a beating from Ndamukong Suh and the Lions’ front four. I think the Bears could come out and try to throw a quick, safe pass to Hester and see what he can do with it.

Bears player to catch most passes

Johnny Knox. Forte leads the Bears in receptions nearly every game, so rather than go with the obvious, I’m going to go out on a limb and say Knox will have the most receptions this week. With the Lions focused on stopping Forte, and Martz’s desire to pass more this week, I feel Knox could have a big game as the offense tries to get the ball in the hands of a guy who can make big plays with his speed. If Forte does, indeed, lead in receptions again, my bet is on Knox to finish second.

More passing yards – Jay Cutler or Matthew Stafford

Matthew Stafford. The Lions have the 12th-ranked pass defense whereas the Bears have been dreadful and rank 29th. Not to mention, the Lions’ passing game has been the engine that has driven their 4-0 start. The Bears need to keep running the ball — although it’s anyone’s guess what Martz will actually call — in order to keep Cutler upright and to keep the defense guessing. Stafford should have the bigger day.

More touchdown passes or interceptions by Jay Cutler

Interceptions. For whatever reason, Cutler does not play well in night games and this is one against an improved Lions defense with a ferocious defensive line. I think now that the Bears have found their run game, Cutler’s chances of having a big passing day dwindle and he’ll throw a pick or two more than he throws touchdowns.

Jay Cutler sacks

3. Did the Bears protect Cutler well last week or was the sample size so small due to the intense focus on the run game that the one-sack game was an illusion? That’s up for debate, but what is certain is that the Panthers do not have a good pass rush and the Lions have a much better front four. Expect Cutler to feel heat all game.

More rushing yards – Bears or Lions

Bears. The Bears were bulldozed by the Panthers run game last week and it was frustrating to watch. Fortunately, the Lions have the fourth-worst rushing attack due, in part, to their great passing game. That lack of balance paired with the Bears’ renewed focus on stopping the run this week ought to give the Bears the edge in the run game.

Total combined rushing and receiving yards by Matt Forte

155. Last week, Forte racked up more total yards than I predicted with just his rushing yards alone. It’s a safe bet he won’t top 155 rushing yards this week. I think he could struggle to surpass 100. But, as always, he’s a threat in the passing game, too, and I think he can reach 155 total yards.

Team to win the turnover battle

Lions. When you don’t get good pressure on the quarterback, it’s difficult to get turnovers. Last week, the Bears struggled to pressure Cam Newton, but on one of the few times that they did get after him, he threw a pick-six to D.J. Moore. I think a few Cutler interceptions combined with the Bears’ inability to get after Stafford will give the Lions the edge in the turnover battle.

Total points scored

47. Expect a good amount of scoring in this divisional Monday night game. The Lions are the second-highest scoring team in the league behind the Packers and I feel the Bears will keep pace with them for much of the game.

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