The NFC North leading Detroit Lions (8-4) will take on the Chicago Bears (3-9) on Sunday at Ford Field at 1 p.m.
The Lions are coming off of a statement win over the New Orleans Saints, while the Bears are fresh off of a 26-6 win over the San Francisco 49ers.
Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford will look to continue his MVP type season against the strong Bears secondary. Chicago currently ranks sixth overall in passing yards allowed per game. Last time these two teams met, Stafford struggled to get anything going, finishing the game with 213 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns. Stafford has improved over the course of the season and should be able to put up MVP type numbers.
The Lions’ running game is one of the worst in football, but the Bears’ rushing defense isn’t that great either. When these two teams met back in early October, Theo Riddick led the rushing attack for the Lions, finishing the game with 31 yards on 11 carries. Heading into this week, that looks to be the case again. Dwayne Washington is questionable and Zach Zenner doesn’t pose enough of a threat to steal Riddick’s touches out of the backfield. Detroit will rely more on the passing game early, which could open up the run game late.
Detroit’s receivers will have to be on the top of their game against the strong Bears secondary. Marvin Jones led the Lions in receiving last time these two teams met, but he is questionable this week. If Jones is unable to go, Golden Tate and Anquan Boldin would have to shoulder more of the load. Jones missed last week’s game and Tate exploded for 145 yards and touchdown so he is more than capable of stepping up.
Injuries have plagued Chicago at quarterback this season, as they are now down to their third string quarterback. Matt Barkley has appeared in three games this season, but hasn’t been that effective. On the season he has 589 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions. Detroit should be able to force some turnovers against the young Bears quarterback.
Chicago’s backfield has also been hit with the injury bug, but Jordan Howard has stepped up to lead the group. In last week’s game he ran the ball 32 times for 117 yards and three touchdowns. Howard is a physical running back that can break multiple tackles en route to a big gain. The Lions will have to wrap up if they want to bring him down on first contact.
The Lions’ secondary has quietly become a force to be reckoned, collecting six interceptions over the past three weeks. That trend should continue with a third string quarterback and the Bears without top receiver Alshon Jeffery. Without Jeffery, Chicago will rely on Cameron Meredith and Marquess Wilson to shoulder the load. Lions star cornerback Darius Slay will likely spend most of his time on Cameron Meredith who has had a strong season thus far.
Keys to the game
Stafford will have to be effective against the stout Bears secondary. He can’t have another performance like the one he had in early October or the Lions will be in trouble.
Detroit’s front seven will be huge in this game. Howard has emerged as a top running back in the league and once he gets rolling, he is a hard runner to stop.
The Lions’ secondary will be important in this game. Chicago has inexperienced players on offense so the Lions should be able to create some turnovers. If the Lions’ defense can’t generate turnovers, the Lions’ offense will be put into tough situations.
Detroit is the better team in this game, but they have already lost to the Bears once this season. Detroit has improved so much from that initial meeting and the Bears have lost some key players, leading me to believe the Lions will win big in this game. However, the Lions have a knack for playing close games so this one might not be as easy as most think, but in the end, I’m going to pick the Lions to win this game.
Lions 31, Bears 17.