2021 season preview: Lions-Bears

Opponent: Chicago Bears

Locations: Soldier Field (Week 4) & Ford Field (Week 12)

Weeks/Dates: Week 4, Oct. 3 at 1:00 p.m. & Week 12, Thanksgiving Day Classic on Thursday, Nov. 25 at 12:30 p.m.

TV/radio: FOX/97.1 & FOX/97.1 FM

Previous matchup: Dec. 6, 2020: The Lions rallied late at Soldier Field, beating the Bears 34-30 after scoring two TDs in the final three minutes of the game.

Why these games matter: Opening day of last season's Lions-Bears game showed why games between NFC North rivals can be doubly important.

The Bears' unlikely 27-23 win ultimately was the difference in them making the NFC playoffs as a wild card. It took a bizarre and unexpected ending for that to happen. The Lions took a 23-6 lead into the fourth quarter, only to see the Bears rally to take the lead on three TD passes by Mitchell Trubisky.

The Lions rallied back and seemingly had the game won on Matthew Stafford's pass to rookie running back D’Andre Swift in the end zone with six seconds left. But Swift dropped the ball, and the Bears escaped with a win that put them in the NFC playoffs as a wild card with an 8-8 record. – Mike O'Hara

Crucial matchup: Tackle Penei Sewell vs. outside linebacker Khalil Mack. At this point Sewell will have already faced a talented 49ers defensive front in the opener and the Smith brothers in Green Bay, but Mack has been one of the most consistent pass rushers in the league for a long time now with his rare combination of speed and power.

It seems like offensive tackles in this league face an elite edge rusher just about every week, but Mack is still one of the best in the business. – Tim Twentyman

Rookie watch: All eyes among Bears fans -- and much of the NFL, too -- have been on rookie QB Justin Fields since the Bears drafted him 11th overall on April 29.

Fields became the Bears' QB of the future when they traded up on draft day to take him. Even as head coach Matt Nagy insisted that veteran Andy Dalton was the Bears starting QB, the only question was when Fields would take over, not if. That could be in training camp, the preseason or some point in the regular season.

Whether he is sitting the bench as a backup or playing, the former Ohio State star will be in the spotlight. – Mike O'Hara

WEEK 4 · Sun 10/03 · 1:00 PM EDT



Chicago Bears

Soldier Field

WEEK 12 · Thu 11/25 · 12:30 PM EST


Chicago Bears

Ford Field