This one’s for all the marbles, Bears fans. It’s Week 17 at Ford Field, and the Chicago Bears will meet the Detroit Lions for the 166th time with the Bears holding a 95-65-5 edge. The Lions have lost five of their last seven against the Bears at Ford Field and 12 of the last 15 meetings overall. You know the Lions would love to play the spoiler and keep the Bears out of the playoffs for the fifth time in the last six years. Bears QB Jay Cutler has performed well against the Lions, having thrown just one interception and 11 touchdowns in seven career games against them as a Bear.
Lions WR Calvin Johnson has already set the record for receiving yards in a season with 1,892, but you know he would love to be the first wide receiver ever to eclipse the 2,000-yard mark. The Bears can expect a healthy dose of Calvin, who leads the league with 117 receptions, throughout the game.
Bears WR Brandon Marshall, who leads the team with 11 touchdowns, is rewriting Bears history books, already setting franchise records for catches in a season (113) and receiving yards in a season (1,466). He also ranks in the Bears all-time top 50 for career receptions (44th), receiving yards (44th) and receiving touchdowns (32nd). If he can catch three touchdown passes on Sunday, he will also set the franchise record for receiving touchdowns in a season, currently 13 held by Dick Gordon (1970) and Ken Kavanaugh (1947).
Let’s check out some more numbers for this Sunday’s game.
4: Number of career sacks by Bears DE Julius Peppers against the Lions in five games as a Bear.
6, 0: Number of touchdowns and interceptions, respectively, thrown by Cutler against the Lions in three career games at Ford Field.
7.8: Average catches per game by Lions WR Calvin Johnson in 2012.
4: Averages catches per game by Calvin Johnson against the Bears at Ford Field in four career games.
11: Number of combined career forced fumbles against the Lions by Peppers (5), Lance Briggs (3) and Charles Tillman (3).
7: Number of games Bears RB Matt Forte has gained 100 or more yards from scrimmage against the Lions in nine career starts against them.
90: Yards from scrimmage needed by Forte to reach 1,400 or more for the fifth consecutive season.
10/10/11: The last time Cutler completed more than 23 passes in a game (against the Lions at Ford Field).
8: Completions needed by Cutler to pass Jim Harbaugh (1,023) for first on the Bears all-time list.
13: Consecutive road games the Bears have committed at least one turnover (last game without one was October 10, 2011 at Ford Field against the Lions).
37: Number of sacks by the Bears defensive line, second most in the NFL this season.
304: Average total yards per game given up by the Bears defense on the road this season.
435: Average total yards per game by the Lions offense at home this season.
27.3: Average points per game given up by the Lions defense at home this season.
10: Number of defensive (6) and special teams (4) touchdowns scored against the Lions this season.
2: Number of games where a single Bears receiver other than Marshall gained more than 50 yards (both were Alshon Jeffery).
5: Number of times the Bears have turned the ball over on their first offensive possession of the game this season. (They are 3-2 in those games.)
1-4: Bears record this season when they commit more turnovers than their opponents.
4: Number of punt returns by Bears opponents of seven or more yards.
22: Number of games since Bears KR Devin Hester has returned a kickoff or punt for a touchdown (Last: 11/13/11 kickoff return against the Detroit Lions).
1: Number of first quarter scoring drives of 80 or more yards by the Bears this season.
0: Number of first quarter passing plays of 20 or more yards by the Bears this season.
The numbers do not lie. The Bears need to get off to a fast start this week and not let the Lions have any hope of winning the game. Lions QB Matthew Stafford isn’t afraid to throw the ball often, and when he does, the Lions usually lose (they are 1-8 when he throws 50 or more times in a game). The more times the ball is in the air, the more chances the Bears have at creating turnovers.
This is it. Four quarters of Cutler running for his life and hoping the defense and special teams can create some magic. Then routing for the Green Bay Packers for three hours…ew, gross. But it has to be done. What a way for the regular season finish up.