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Each week during the NFL season, we'll focus on one underdog with a chance to pull off the outright upset. We took last week off for Thanksgiving but our last play was one of our best yet, as the Titans (+220) bullied the Ravens to bring us to 5-6 on moneyline underdogs with +3.3 units won.
How much does coaching matter? The Lions are about ready to find out the answer. Detroit finally canned Matt Patricia after the coach went 13-29-1 in three seasons with an alarming 7-13-1 record in games decided by seven points or less and a 10-7-1 record when leading after three quarters. Those are both bright red flags if I've ever seen one.
The Lions looked lost in a Thanksgiving thrashing by the Texans but they were also without receiver Danny Amendola and running back D'Andre Swift, both of whom should be back for this one. Swift has been particularly dangerous when healthy and interim head coach Darrell Bevell - who's known for his success with the run game in his two decades of coaching - should prominently use the back.
Bevell is also expected to focus more on shot plays and tempo with this offense, which ranks 19th in yards per play and 18th in yards per pass attempt. There's already a "buzz" out of practice with Bevell in charge and if he can turn that into offensive success in his first crack at a head-coaching job, it would fundamentally change this team's outlook.
As hopeless as the Lions have looked in recent weeks, the Bears have looked even worse - so much so, in fact, that coach Matt Nagy challenged his players to "wake up" and "have some personal pride" after last week's loss to the Packers.
If anyone needs a wake-up call it might be Nagy, whose offense ranks 29th in points per game (19.6) and 31st in yards per game (305.5). Nagy's offense has scored 28 or more points just eight times since he took over in 2018 - fourth-fewest by any team in that stretch. The 42-year-old's defense has helped mask those offensive woes but after Sunday's effort in Green Bay, it's hard to have any faith in Chicago slowing down a potentially resurgent Lions attack.
If the Bears fall behind early, it could be over. Mitchell Trubisky was predictably inept in his return to a starting role, completing 56.5% of his passes with two interceptions and three fumbles. Trubisky will be hard-pressed to engineer a comeback if his team needs it and Detroit no longer has a coach eager to provide one.
For years, teams tended to struggle in their first game with a new head coach, but that hasn't been the case as of late. The last five teams to replace their sideline boss midseason are 4-1 straight up, with the lone loss coming after beloved Panthers boss Ron Rivera's replacement in Week 14.
This year alone, the Texans and Falcons fired oft-criticized head coaches and won their next game by a combined 33 points. Patricia certainly fits that mold and this Lions roster is arguably as talented as Chicago's. Unless the Bears fire Matt Nagy between now and Sunday, take the plus-money and run.
(Odds source: theScore Bet)
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.