Pack, Lions Collide; Bears, Niners Banged Up

Week 11 in the NFC North sees Green Bay travel to Detroit in what really could be a last chance saloon type of affair for the Lions, while Chicago travels to San Francisco for a Monday Night Football game that may not see either team’s starting quarterback take the field, thanks to concussions incurred last weekend.

Green Bay Packers (6-3) at Detroit Lions (4-5)

Sunday 1 PM ET

Having dusted off an irregular start to the season, the Green Bay Packers now have the division-leading Chicago Bears well and truly within their sights.

Winners of four straight and five of the last six, Green Bay (6-3, 2-2 road) will travel to the Motor City confident that it can make up ground on the division-leading Chicago Bears. With an extra week to rest (many) ailing bodies, the Pack will hope to plow through the Lions.

Detroit (4-5, 2-1 home) fell to Minnesota last week, snapping a two game winning streak in the process. But with five of the last seven games at home, the Lions have something to grasp onto as they try to propel themselves up the NFC North standing.

There is, however, one major problem with that future schedule; only one team remaining on the Lions’ schedule has a losing record. A win over the Packers this weekend would make a good start to a tough stint, whilst also returning the Lions to a .500 record.

Beating Green Bay is no easy feat though. In fact, Detroit has struggled mightily to beat the Packers for more than a decade. Since 2000, the Lions have gone 3-20 against the Pack, a woeful mark that looks more like a Kansas City scoreline than a team record. Green Bay has been dominant historically – compiling a 93-65-7 record in the 82-year history of this match-up – but those numbers are something else.

Lions’ fans looking for a glimmer of hope should be thankful that the game is being played in Detroit; the Lions have not won at Lambeau Field since December 15, 1991.

Despite a superior record and an overwhelming historical advantage, Green Bay opens as just 3½-point favorites. Both sides have posted an identical record (4-5) against the spread this season which leaves bettors with little to go on.

The over/under has opened at 51. Green Bay has seen six games go over this season while Detroit has seen the total go over seven times. The over looks like the better option here. Need more of a nudge? The last time these two sides met the game finished 45-41.

Chicago Bears (7-2) at San Francisco 49ers (6-2-1)

Monday 8:30 PM ET

The Bears' Jay Cutler (pictured) and 49ers' Alex Smith both suffered concussions in Week 10 and are unlikely to play this week.

Life doesn’t get any easier for Chicago (7-2, 3-1 road). Having lost a tough game to Houston on Sunday Night Football, the Bears now prepare for a Monday Night Football clash with San Francisco (6-2-1, 3-1-1 home).

The Bears’ loss to Houston snapped a six-game winning streak that had some suggesting that this was the best team in football. Some of those suggesting such a statement are now questioning its authenticity in the wake of Sunday night’s performance.

Considered to be one of the NFC’s top-end teams – alongside the Bears – San Francisco only managed a tie with St. Louis this past week. The rare result – which was no fun for players, coaches, fans, or bettors – cast a shadow on what had been a good run by the Niners; the team had won four of the last five and six of eight in total.

Monday night’s match-up could prove to be a similar encounter to the one we saw this past weekend. Like Houston, San Francisco is stacked defensively, ranking in the top 10 for both pass and rush defense, and ranking number one overall in points allowed, given up a miserly 14.1 points per game.

Like Houston, San Francisco also has a running game that can wear any team out. In fact, the Niners are the number one team in the league at running the football, averaging 170.2 yards per game. With the rush game well and truly in gear, San Francisco can afford to field a 28th ranked passing offense.

As we all know though, the Bears are no slouch when it comes to running the football and stopping the opposition. Chicago ranks in the top 10 for rushing (127.0 YPG) and is number two – behind San Francisco – in points allowed (14.8 PPG). Expect this one to be a defensive onslaught, especially because…

Both Jay Cutler and Alex Smith find themselves doubtful for the game, both as a result of concussion. Cutler will almost certainly be absent while Smith is reported to be seeking a second opinion. Without either quarterback on the field, these two monstrous defenses could have a field day.

The concussions have impacted betting lines this week. San Francisco has opened as 4½-point favorites but bookmakers have yet to offer an over/under on the game.

Both sides have recorded a 5-4-0 ATS record this season, in keeping with the parity between the two sides. Perhaps the biggest advantage on offer then is home-field. San Francisco has not lost a home game to Chicago since October 13, 1985. Granted, that span only covers seven games, but Chicago hasn’t won in the City by the Bay in more than a generation. That will certainly stand for something, particularly when bettors get ahold of such information.

Minnesota (6-4) has a bye week and will return to action in Week 12 with a visit to Chicago.

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