Chicago Bears a much different team than the Detroit Lions saw last

Posted Dec 27, 2012

Needing help to get into the playoffs is not what the Chicago Bears had in mind after a 7-1 start and has some wondering what went wrong these last seven games.

Since 1990, there have been 52 teams to start the season 7-1. Only one of those, the 1996 Redskins, missed the postseason.

A second-half collapse has seen the Bears drop five of their last seven games after starting 7-1 and has left them at 9-6 and needing help to make the playoffs.

Chicago can clinch a postseason berth with a win at Detroit on Sunday along with a Minnesota loss or tie.

Needing help to get into the playoffs is not what the Bears had in mind after a 7-1 start and has some wondering what went wrong these last seven games.

Lions fans have been asking the same question for a lot longer – since September to be exact.

The Bears' recent slide and the Lions' season-long skid have some similarities.

The Bears' hot start was fueled by their defense and it’s ability to turn the ball over and score points off turnovers. They forced 28 turnovers through the their first eight games and were on pace to set the season record.

“I think if you look each week you try to determine what’s a common thread on winning and losing football games and you can look to the turnover ratio,” Bears head coach Lovie Smith said in a conference call.

“It’s as simple as that. It’s been like that since the beginning of time. So naturally we would put a big premium on taking the ball away on the defensive side. That’s a part of our fiber, our core. It’s not a good defensive game unless we can take the ball away. And on the other side of course it’s about ball security. You can’t turn it over, it’s as simple as that.”

Over their last seven games, the Bears have forced 12 turnovers. They've turned it over 12 times themselves over that span.

They've suffered some injuries on the defensive side of the ball, which has contributed to their slide in production, but that could be an excuse for almost every team at this point in the season.

A big part of the Lions' 4-11 record can be attributed to a minus-12 turnover ratio.

“We’ve had close games and I think it’s been proven in the National Football League that the No. 1 determining factor of success in games is turnover ratio and we’ve turned it over a lot more this year and gotten a lot fewer turnovers than last year,” Lions head coach Jim Schwartz said. “Last year I think we had six lost fumbles in the whole year. I think we’re at 13 right now.

“We need to do a better job at taking care at the football and also on defense we need to be able to come up with some. Last year we had scores on defense. We haven’t gotten any this year and turnovers obviously play a big part.”

In the first matchup between these two teams on Monday Night Football Oct. 22, the Lions had more total yards than the Bears (340 to 296) but lost the turnover battle 4-0 and lost the game 13-7.

Both the Lions and Bears have proven how important being on the right side of the turnover ratio can be this season and it’s probably safe to say that whoever wins that battle Sunday is likely to win the game.