Detroit Lions can bounce back by mauling Bears this Thanksgiving

Like cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie, a Lions home game is a Thanksgiving staple

Like cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie, a Lions home game is a Thanksgiving staple

It is the longest-running annual series in the NFL, and this Thanksgiving the encounter between the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears could be a make or break game for Jim Caldwell’s Lions side.

 

Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions Betting Odds:

Chicago Bears +250

Detroit Lions -300

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

After back-to-back reverses against tough opposition in conference leaders Arizona and New England, Detroit has a chance to get its playoff charge back on track against a Bears side that hasn’t won away from Soldier Field since October 12th.

An opening-day demolition of the New York Giants led to cautious optimism around Ford Field, and the Lions have already matched last season’s seven wins with five rounds to spare. However their participation in the playoffs hangs by a thread, meaning they will look to make the most of home-field advantage in their remaining outings. They may be helped by the return of Reggie Bush, who hopes to feature after sitting out the last two weeks with an ankle problem.

 

The Bears narrowly missed out on top spot in NFC North in 2013, but this year trail their divisional rivals going into round 12. Their last road game ended in a heavy defeat against NFC North leaders Green Bay, and they may struggle to contain in-form Golden Tate this week.

This is the first Thanksgiving match-up between the Bears and the Lions since 1999, but a repeat of the 28-10 Chicago win that day seems unlikely. The last six regular-season meetings between the sides have been split three apiece, and this week marks a great chance for the home team to record three wins in a row against the Bears for the first time since 2004.

 

Betting Instinct tip – Chicago’s slow starts see no sign of letting up, and if you fancy a repeat it could be worth backing Detroit -7 at +100 with Intertops.eu

 

Intertops Sportsbook is running a number of special promotions this Thanksgiving, including a special no-juice line on the Lions-Bears game. Head to www.intertops.eu for more information

tv TOM VICTOR (editor) is the editor and co-founder of Betting Instinct. He has written for a variety of    sports sites in the past, including JustFootball, Footy Matters and BeNeFoot. You can follow him  on Twitter or Google+.

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NFL: Lions and Falcons out to impress on Wembley debut

It hasn't happened overnight, but British fans are definitely warming to NFL

It hasn’t happened overnight, but British fans are definitely warming to NFL

Who would have thought it? The NFL is making a huge splash in England. American popular culture has always fascinated us English, but whilst our music charts are filled with the newest American teen stars and our TVs are constantly broadcasting American sitcoms, American sport has not had an easy ride across the Atlantic. Really, promoting the NFL in England would be about as hopeless as promoting the Premier League in the US….

So in the same month, the Premier League are exploring plans to play in the US, and on the back of Wembley hosting three NFL games this year instead of the regular one-off, there are even noises of a London NFL franchise. Finally, the best of American sport is finally beginning to capture the minds of us English. So here is your guide to this weekend’s NFL game at Wembley, and your invitation to jump on the English NFL bandwagon.

The first NFL game at Wembley this season (Miami Dolphins vs Oakland Raiders) was a particularly unglamorous matchup between two teams with slim playoff aspirations, but the Falcons vs Lions game is on a whole different level.

 

Atlanta Falcons v Detroit Lions Betting Odds:

Falcons win +170

Lions win -200 

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

Atlanta brings perhaps one of the most exciting NFL offenses to England, however their very leaky defense has been the catalyst for four losses in a row that has seen a promising start slump to 2-5, and Matt Ryan’s aesthetically pleasing passing game has been far less successful on the road in comparison to his scintillating home performances. The Falcons are not the team they were at the beginning of September, and some serious changes are needed, but if Ryan and their offense can find their best form, they are certainly a danger. Let’s put it this way, even on current form, they are no Oakland Raiders… It’s a big game for Atlanta, since their playoff aspirations desperately need resuscitating, and anything other than a win at Wembley to end their 0-4 slump could leave the Falcons season flatlining.

The Detroit Lions provide them with a genuinely fascinating test at Wembley, boasting the 1st ranked defense in the NFL and an impressive 5-2 record. They have a plethora of established offensive talent including last season’s Superbowl winner Golden Tate, legendary running back Reggie Bush, and ‘Megatron’, aka Calvin Johnson, a wide receiver with incredible physical prowess that more than deserves his robotic nickname (though he is doubtful for this weekend with an ankle injury). Make no mistake, this team has genuine Super Bowl potential, and could potentially be the best NFL team to ever cross the Atlantic. However, their season has been plagued by a less than impressive offensive line, which has meant that quarterback Matthew Stafford has not been able to get his talented offense going thus far, having been sacked a whopping 24 times already this season. If the Falcons defensive line can put pressure on Stafford, this game may be far closer than it’s lining up to be on paper.

 

Realistically the Falcons are up against it here, and statistical indicators suggest that Atlanta don’t really have the weapons to put the kind of pressure on Matthew Stafford to keep the Lions offense quiet. The Atlanta offense faces it’s toughest test yet, and on current form, the Falcons best chance of gaining any decent field position is through a repetitive series of 4th down punts. The Lions, on the other hand, could finally showcase their offensive talent against a very questionable Atlanta defense, and run out clear winners here. Expect to see plenty of points and entertainment, but Detroit to run out clear winners. It’s likely this will be the game that the NFL world starts taking the Lions’ Super Bowl chances very seriously.

 

Betting Instinct tip – Back the Lions -3.5 at -115 with AllYouBet.ag

 

Scott AvatarSCOTT SIMPKIN is a young sports journalist from the UK with a growing interest in sports in the US, particularly American football and Baseball. He has previously contributed to publications including Palatinate Online and FourFourTwo

Battle royal at Soldier Field!

Packers vs. Bears on Sunday!

A fierce NFL rivalry continues when the Packers face the Bears!

It’s time for one of the oldest and fiercest rivalries in the NFL to take centre stage again this weekend when the Green Bay Packers travel to the Chicago Bears for a matchup that could have serious consequences as far as the rest of the season in the NFC North is concerned.

Aaron Rodgers and the Pack, perennial favourites to take the division, are currently bottom of the standings after losing two of their first three games this season. Ok, ok, they can be forgiven for not coming away from Seattle with a win on the opening day of the season, but a shaky come-from-behind win at home to the Jets and another loss on the road at the Detroit Lions are hardly the best preparation for a trip to Soldier Field.

After slipping up at home to the Bills in Week 1, the Bears have put together back-to-back prime-time road victories at the 49ers and the Jets to make a real statement of intent for the upcoming season. Quarterback Jay Cutler, whose ability and character under pressure have been questioned in the past, is looking good and his stats even overshadow those of Rodgers as we head towards their showdown. Many experts are expecting both playmakers to shine in this high-profile duel and so a high-scoring game could well be on the cards.

The Bears lead the all-time stats between the two teams by 93 wins to 89 (6 ties), but it’s the Packers who have taken nine of their last 11 meetings and everyone in green and yellow will be doing their utmost to further improve that record this time around and get the franchsie back on track.

NFL Week 4: Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears Betting Odds

Green Bay Packers 1.8
Chicago Bears 2.05

To win the NFC North Betting Odds:

Green Bay Packers    2.35
Detroit Lions             2.6
Chicago Bears           3.5
Minnesota Vikings   34.0

All odds provided by allyoubet.ag are accurate as of today and subject to change

CHRIS I. (tipsterchris) is a European sports blogger who’s hooked on football — both NFL American football and European football.  Chris discusses betting tips and trends and includes betting odds in his regular posts at BI

Time For Saints to Show They Can Perform on the Road

Marques Colston is the form player for the Saints, with two touchdowns last week

Marques Colston is the form player for the Saints, with two touchdowns last week

Saints @ Panthers

It’s rare we have the situation of a matchup where the reverse fixture was as recent as two weeks before (it feels rare, it might not be rare). This, in theory, should give us plenty of points of focus where coaches are determined not to make the same mistakes while at the same time reinforcing their existing competitive advantage.

New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers Betting Odds

Saints to win – 2.55

Panthers to win – 1.57

(All odds provided by AllYouBet.ag are correct as of today and subject to change)

The main talking point around the New Orleans Saints this week has been the announcement that their rookie left tackle out of Arkansas Pine-Bluff, Terron Armstead, will replace 4th year USC alum Charles Brown. The left side of the New Orleans offensive line was undoubtedly tortured by Robert Quinn last week (think Gareth Bale v Maicon in 2010, soccer fans), but even the most competent blockers around the league wouldn’t be able to avoid being trampled by the Rams pass rush right now. Armstead will almost certainly be up against Greg Hardy for most of the afternoon, and while Hardy is no slouch (6th best 4-3 defensive end in the league according to Pro Football Focus), he was well and truly blunted by Brown in Week 14, in what was a pretty ignominious night for the vaunted Panther defensive front.

There’s no getting away from the fact that the New Orleans Saints are famed for Drew Brees and the prolific pass attack he commandeers. They ran riot in the previous fixture at home to Carolina, with Brees throwing for 313 yards and four touchdowns, and stellar wideout Marques Colston having his best game of the season (9 catches, 125 yards, 2 touchdowns). The secondary had been the main concern for this Carolina defence but they have surpassed most expectations, with PFF’s pass coverage metric ranking them a very respectable 8th overall. Regardless of the Saints’ recent stutters, the Panthers defence will need to be on the top of their game if they are to best one of the greatest passing offenses the game has ever seen.

For the Saints, a win would answer some of the questions starting to bubble up about their credentials, whether they’re just one-trick ponies who can only perform at home (only the Bengals have a greater differential between their home and away records). In fact so dominant are the Saints at home, this surfaced on one of their fansites. And for the Panthers, despite statement wins in San Francisco and against New England on Monday Night Football (although even the flawed Colts beat San Francisco and Seattle), beating the regent Saints would go a big way to proving they are a big time contender. There are some people* who still think their franchise quarterback hasn’t established himself the way Luck, Wilson and even Kaepernick have. A win on Sunday would surely paid to that.

*People? What people? ME

Patriots @ Ravens

If the Baltimore Ravens were a sensitive bunch, they might think they were being disrespected. A norm for the Super Bowl winners is to play the first game of the next season at home, but they had their opening night home game privileges stripped from them, and now NBC, who hold the rights to a primetime Sunday night matchup, decided to “flex out” of airing the Ravens’ final home game in favour of an Eagles-Bears game which could feasibly have the home side resting their key starters depending on a result earlier that day.

Still, after losing (what people considered to be) the lynchpins of their Super Bowl winning side to retirement and free agency in the summer, the supposedly decimated Ravens have got to the penultimate game of the season with their place in the playoffs in their own hands. All they have to do is win both of their games and they’re in. Except, they’re playing the powerhouse New England Patriots who are always in contention for a world championship (yes, I went there) and away to their division rivals the Cincinnati Bengals (who, as you read above, have a pretty considerable home-field advantage).

Trouble, you may think. Alas, the Ravens are 3-2 against New England in their last five encounters. Only the New York Football Giants are able to match such a record – if you only count the five games occurring in this millennium.

Baltimore have won their last 4, while New England are coming off the back of a slap-in-the-face loss in Miami, who incidentally are one of Baltimore’s main challengers for a playoff place. It hasn’t been the first such defeat for the Patriots this season, whose other defeats came away against the New York Jets, the Carolina Panthers and the Cincinnati Bengals. All four boast outstanding defences, something the Baltimore Ravens pride themselves on.

Patriots starting left tackle Nate Solder suffered a concussion last week, and if he’s fit to play he’ll have his hands full with a rampant Elvis Dumervil (ranked 2nd in the league among 3-4 outside linebackers) and a healthy dose of Ball So Hard University alum Terrell Suggs.

New England have spent most of the season without their superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski (I won’t even mention the other one), and after his week 7 return, they tragically lost him to a season ending ACL tear against Cleveland in Week 14. Any offense in history would have a gaping Gronkowski-sized hole in it if he was shorn from it, but it has especially hindered New England considering the deficiencies in their other offensive skill players. Ridley (butterfingers), Thompkins and Dobson (inexperience), Amendola (always injured), Hoomanawanui (not Gronkowski) and Hernandez (homicide charges, ok I mentioned him) have left the imperial Tom Brady with Julian Edelman and not much else all season.

This has shown in their results – six of New England’s wins have come with a three point winning margin or less. Meanwhile Baltimore won on Monday Night Football against the Detroit Lions without scoring a touchdown, and being stalwarts of the AFC North they are more than familiar in the art of grinding out close wins.

The most recent weather forecast suggests there will be thunderstorms during game-time in the Maryland area with a medium strength wind. Rain usually means running the football, and while Ravens tailback Ray Rice has had an appalling season by any measure (PFF have him as by far the worst running back in the league this season), he appeared to be workable in his last two games (4.2 yards per carry).

With the strength of their defence and with kicker Justin Tucker having a career night earlier this week, a slugfest could play right into Baltimore’s hands, setting things up for a Week 17 for the ages with supporters in the stands obligingly having their ears pinned to the wireless. And who doesn’t love those days?

Betting Instinct TipBaltimore Ravens -2.5 is 1.91 with Intertops Sportsbook

saadaab avatarSAADAAB JANAB is a recovering football fan (he doesn’t like to call it soccer) who discovered NFL and MLB in the depth of his crisis. He is back on amicable terms with his original passion, but American football and baseball get as much attention as ever.