Bears vs Lions: Inside the Matchups

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Nov 23, 2014; Foxborough, MA, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) in the huddle during the second quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

When the Lions Have the Ball

One of the biggest surprises of the NFL season has been how mightily the Lions have struggled on offense.  Like the Bears, expectations were high for a group that features Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Golden Tate, Reggie Bush and first round draft pick tight end Eric Ebron.  But the Lions have been battling injuries, most notably to Johnson and Bush.  The offensive line is vulnerable as Stafford has been sacked a bunch.  Fear not Lions fans, the Chicago Bears are coming to town.

The Lions are averaging a paltry 17.9 PPG, the 29th ranked scoring offense.  The Bears are allowing 27.5 PPG, but a pair of 50+ point games really skew the numbers.  The Bears have given up 13 points in each of their last two wins.

Lions Passing Offense (10th, 251.7 YPG) vs Bears Pass Defense (29th, 260.5 YPG)

This is where the Lions should be able to make some hay.  The Bears pass defense has been shaky all season and with rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller’s status in doubt for Thursday, it could be the break the slumping Lions offense needs.  Tim Jennings should have a decent matchup against Golden Tate, but I don’t know who covers Megatron.  I was looking forward to see how Fuller takes over in the matchup that the injured Peanut Tillman has held down the last few years.

Calvin Johnson’s injuries woes have really slowed him and the Lions passing attack down, but Golden Tate has more than done his share.  Tate already have over 1000 yards receiving, nearly double Johnson’s productivity.  A return by the battered Reggie Bush could help bolster the Lions’ underneath passing game, where they’ve had to rely on Theo Riddick to pick up the slack.

The Lions

Lions Rushing Offense (30th, 80.8 YPG) vs Bears Rush Defense (12th, 106.8 YPG)

The Lions running game has been nearly non-existent this season.  They’ve been plagued by injuries in the backfield.  Reggie Bush is better in the passing game, but Joique Bell and Co. haven’t been able to get anything going.  The Bears run defense is much improved this season as players seem to be more assignment sound and haven’t been leaving their gaps vacant.  There could be some challenges for the Bears defense with Lance Briggs expected to miss the game.  Then again, Briggs has been slowed by Father Time and the younger and faster Christian Jones filled in well in Briggs’ absence in the second half against the Bucs.