Nov 23, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) makes a pass during the second quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Overview: Happy early Thanksgiving everyone! Hopefully you can find time in between spending time with your families and gorging yourselves on delicious food to catch the Bears game this week, because it should be a good one. The Chicago Bears are taking a Turkey Day trip to Ford Field this week to take on the 7-4 Detroit Lions, in what will hopefully be a close matchup between longtime division rivals. With our beloved Bears standing at a disappointing 5-6 this season, this game might seem like it’s headed for a blowout but that’s not necessarily the case. While the Bears are coming off back to back wins for the first time since just after week 3, The Lions are coming off a pair of tough losses that have cost them the division lead. Detroit has a history of collapsing at this time of year in recent history, so we’ll have to see if their new coaching staff can buck that trend. It’s never a good idea to rely on cross-season trends to predict the winner of an NFL game, but at least the Bears have a glimmer of hope in this one.
Injuries: The Detroit Lions have a decent number of notable injuries at this point in the season, but possibly none more crucial than a knee injury to starting left tackle Riley Reiff suffered on the opening drive of last week’s loss to the Patriots. Reiff has been Detroit’s best offensive lineman so far this year, but with such a short week in between now and Thursday it will be difficult for him to be on the field against the Bears. If the former first round pick can’t go, rookie Cornelius Lucas is likely to get the start. Joining Reiff on the sideline with a knee injury of his own will likely be fellow starting offensive lineman Larry Warford who was injured two weeks ago in the loss to the Cardinals. Defensive tackle Nick Fairly is also unlikely to play in this one.
Key Matchups: With the Bears’ defensive line seemingly energized the past two weeks, this looks like an excellent time for the Detroit Lions to be experiencing offensive line issues. Willie Young and company absolutely must take advantage of these weak points for the Bears to have a chance in this one. Making Matthew Stafford throw the ball before he’s ready is crucial to helping the Bears have any hope of containing my second matchup of the week, Calvin Johnson. Megatron was held to 4 catches for 58 yards last week against the Patriots and 5 receptions for 59 yards the week before against the Cardinals. The key to stopping the Detroit Lions offense seems pretty clear, but is much more easily said than done. Both New England and Arizona have elite, shut down corners in Darrelle Revis and Patrick Peterson respectively. The Bears have no such corner and will have to rely on a group effort to contain one of the most explosive playmakers in NFL history. The Bears definitely have their hands full with this one, especially with the untimely injury to standout rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller weakening the secondary this week.
The Way I See It: If I were a betting man (and if you’ve seen my record in the staff picks this season, thankfully I’m not) I don’t think I’d pick the Bears in this one. Chicago has improved over the last two weeks, but not enough to bring down an opponent like the Detroit Lions. The Bears offense simply hasn’t been on the same page in recent weeks, and I just don’t see a scenario where the Lions don’t put up points in bunches. Unless, of course, the last two weeks are a sign of yet another late season collapse by the Detroit Lions. Here’s hoping!
What do you guys think? Do the Bears have any chance of containing Calvin Johnson? Have the Lions turned a corner this season, or are they headed for more late season disappointment? Let me know in the Comments…