Mitchell Trubisky against the Detroit Lions is not exactly must-see-TV.
But for two rabid fanbases starved for football, the Chicago Bears opening up at Ford Field on Sunday will certainly draw a lot of eyeballs.
And, in part because of the burgeoning sports betting markets in their respective home states, it should draw plenty of gambling dollars as well.
The NFC North meeting is getting the most action of the entire 13-game NFL Sunday slate at FanDuel Sportsbook, an industry leader.
Much of this is because FanDuel has a retail sportsbook in downtown Detroit at MotorCity Casino, and a retail and online sportsbook in Illinois through Pare-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria.
Most bets, money wagered on Bears
As of mid-day Thursday, the Bears/Lions showdown was leading Sunday wagers, according to Kevin Hennessy, spokesman for FanDuel.
Updated Friday with numbers 67% of against the spread bets are coming in for the Bears +2.5 with 44% of the money picking the Lions -2.5.
As for the moneyline, 82% of the bets and 75% of the money is picking the Bears, who were at +120 Friday afternoon. The Lions were -142 for the 1 p.m. EST kickoff.
For the total, 70% of the bets and 69% of the money was on the under, set Friday at 44 points.
The spread had been Lions -3 on Thursday. Detroit’s top receiver Kenny Golladay has been out of practice much of this week with a hamstring injury.
Moving off a 3-point line is a big deal. According to research from The Lines, 14.5% of NFL games from a recent 12-year sample ended with a 3-point margin, the most likely outcome.
For the entire Week 1 slate, only Thursday night’s Houston at Kansas City season opener was getting more action as of Thursday, according to Hennessy.
Bears, Lions getting some national love
A team with Trubisky as its Week 1 starter against another that hasn’t won a division title since 1993 seems like a dud.
But if you believe some experts, news, and numbers, Sunday’s opener could actually have serious playoff implications down the line.
At DraftKings Sports Betting, the Bears are +380 to win the NFC North and the Lions are +550. Those odds are by far the shortest for any division’s third- and fourth-most likely teams.
Contrastingly, Atlanta is +800 to win the NFC South, while longshot Carolina is +2,200.
Bill Simmons, on his podcast this week with Cousin Sal on The Ringer, predicted the Lions are going to win the division.
Minnesota (+160 at DraftKings) and Green Bay (+180) aren’t the runaway favorites compared to Detroit that they usually are.
The Vikings lost linebacker Cameron Smith for the season because of a heart surgery connected to a COVID-19 diagnosis. The Packers, meanwhile, could have consternation building after drafting backup Jordan Love behind quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the first round.
Three things to know about Bears at Lions
- Avoid meaningless #trendz: If you’re new to betting, it’s important to know which numbers matter. While it’s interesting that the Lions are 6-2-1 in their last nine season openers, it has no bearing on Sunday. As the season goes on, you can see how the Lions do against the spread. Or maybe you chart other situations and matchups that could prove useful. But especially early in the season, view trends with a skeptical eye.
- How much home-field advantage? The typical NFL line is weighted three points toward the home team. So, if the teams are even on a neutral field, the home team is favored by a field goal. This year, however, oddsmakers might have to throw out the old book. There will be limited fans in the stands for many games this season, including none Sunday in Detroit.
- Trubisky tears up the Lions: It’s hard to believe, but the Lions have made Trubisky look like a competent quarterback. In five games against Detroit, the fourth-year QB has thrown 11 touchdowns, five more than against any other team. He has more than four career touchdowns against one other NFL team (six in one 2018 game against Tampa Bay, truly an anomaly). Is there something about Lions coach Matt Patricia’s defensive scheme that Trubisky can exploit? Or was it just bad Detroit defensive personnel? And if it’s bad players, have the Lions filled enough of those holes this offseason to make a difference?