The Chicago Bears (3-6) take on the Detroit Lions (5-4) this Sunday at Soldier Field in the first matchup of the season between the two division rivals. While the Bears hold the all time series lead at (97-72-5), the Detroit Lions will be the only team on the lakefront Sunday afternoon with realistic playoff aspirations. With an unbearable loss to the Aaron Rodgers-less Green Bay Packers at home last week, the Bears main objective over the next seven games should be to give their young players meaningful game experience and develop rookie QB Mitchell Trubisky. Throughout the NFL season, we have seen second year QBs Carson Wentz, Jared Goff and Dak Prescott play like elite level QBs and all Bears fans hope to see that type of leap from #10 next season.
Offense– This week marks the sixth start for rookie QB and first round draft pick Mitchell Trubisky as he faces off against a solid defense in the Lions. The Lions defense has been fairly stout throughout the season but last week they gave up a whopping 201 yards on the ground to the Cleveland Browns!?! I look for Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen to bounce back from a subpar performance last week as they tallied only 55 yards on the ground. Dontrelle Inman looked the part of a solid NFL receiver versus the Packers and hopefully Trubisky to Inman is a combination we hear a lot at Soldier Field this Sunday. EDGE: BEARS
Defense– After last week’s performance against the underhanded Packers, maybe the Chicago Bears defense is not who we thought they were. Allowing third string RB Jamaal Williams and Ty Montgomery to run all over Soldier Field was a tough pill to swallow. Clearly, the Bears miss the leadership and play from LB Danny Trevathan who is questionable to play again this week. Akiem Hicks continued his strong play but I look for Detroit QB Matthew Stafford and his young stable of receivers to make life difficult on the Bears secondary who struggled last week. EDGE: LIONS
Special Teams– No question that Bears kicker Connor Barth has been better in recent weeks but the edge in the kicking game has to go to Lions kicker Matt Prater. Having made 19 of his previous 22 kicks this season, if this game comes down to a player winning the game with their right foot, I’ll take Prater. Pat O’Donnell has had great distance on his punts this season but the hang time has not been there recently which has lead to big returns from the opposing team. Sam Martin has been a top punt returner in the league this season for the Lions and if he gets a chance to return one, I see trouble for the Bears cover team. EDGE: LIONS
Offense– Jordan Howard– Looking to rebound from his below average performance against the Packers, I see Jordan Howard hitting the 100 yard mark for the fourth time this season. Currently ranked fifth in the league in rushing, Howard has been on record saying that he wants to lead the league in rushing. He will need to have a big output on Sunday to approach Le’Veon Bell and his league leading 886 yards.
Defense— Kyle Fuller– After playing his worst game of the season against the Packers last week, Kyle will need to bounce back as he faces a tough receiver group in Golden Tate, Marvin Jones Jr. and TJ Jones. Fuller has been solid this year and he’ll need to be again if the Bears are to pull off the victory tomorrow.
Special Teams– Pat O’Donnell– O’Donnell has had one of his best years punting the ball since joining the Bears in 2014. He will need to kick the ball out of bounds to avoid a big play from Lions punt returner Sam Martin.
1) Feed Howard and Cohen the ball. These guys will have the opportunity to make big gains in the ground game but offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains will need to mix up the play calling to allow for success on the ground. A few passes on first down should open some holes for Howard and Cohen on second and third down.
2) Make life miserable for Stafford. The Bears will need to record sacks, hits and hurries on Lions QB Matthew Stafford to have a chance at winning this game. When the Bears won at home last season vs. the Lions, Stafford spent most of his time on the ground.
3) Make a play on special teams. To beat the Lions on Sunday the Bears will need a blg play from Tarik Cohen on kickoffs or punt returns to put the Bears in scoring position.
Division games are always tough to win, especially when they are on the road. The Bears have been competitive in every game since Trubisky took over for Glennon but the Lions come in with momentum and more on the line. Once again, the Bears play a close one but Stafford and the Lions prove to be too much for the Bears to handle. John Fox’s hot seat is on fire after this one. LIONS 24 BEARS 23
(All stats for this post were provided by espn.com)