Skip to main content

5 things to watch: Lions at Bears

Detroit kicks off the second half of their season in Chicago later today, needing a win to get back above the .500 mark and keep pace with the rest of the NFC. Detroit's also looking for their first division win on the season after dropping contests to Green Bay and Minnesota earlier this year.

Here are five things to look out for in today's matchup:


The Lions signal caller will try and make it four straight with at least 300 passing yards, three-plus touchdowns and a passer rating above 110.0. One of Stafford's most impressive games this season was Week 7 against Minnesota, when he threw for 364 yards and four touchdowns against that terrific Vikings' defense.

Stafford will have another difficult challenge this week against a Bears' defense that ranks sixth in points allowed and ninth in total defense. They're good in the back end, and they can rush the passer, led by All-Pro edge rusher Khalil Mack.

It's expected to be cold and windy, so it will be rather impressive if Stafford is able to put up the numbers he's been putting up the last three weeks today in Chicago.


Detroit's been really good this season as a coverage unit both in kickoffs and punt. The Lions are No. 4 in the NFL in kickoff coverage, with opponents starting on average at their own 23.5-yard line. They've given up just 41 total yards on punt returns for a 3.4 average, which is third best. 

Head coach Matt Patricia will have an interesting decision this week deciding if he wants to challenge his coverage units by kicking to a dynamic Bears return game. Tarik Cohen is second in the NFL and No. 1 in the NFC with a 11.3 punt return average. Cordarrelle Patterson returned a kickoff for a touchdown Week 7 against New Orleans and his 451 kickoff return yards and 30.1 average rank first in the NFL.


When it comes to the Chicago offense and Detroit defense there hasn't been a whole lot of good to write home about. Neither unit ranks better than 27th in any major statistical category, which means both the Bears' offense and Lions' defense have to be heading into this one thinking it's an opportunity to get right and build some confidence.

The Lions are allowing 27.1 points per game and 424.1 yards of offense. The Bears are scoring just 17.8 points per game and averaging 266.8 yards of offense. Whichever unit steps up and makes the biggest difference in those numbers probably wins the game.


Detroit enters the contest allowing on average 135.8 yards on the ground to opponents. Only once this season has Detroit held an opponent under 120 yards rushing, and in three of their last four they've surrendered more than 165 yards on the ground.

Chicago is averaging just 80.5 rushing yards per game, which ranks 27th. They've rushed for over 100 yards as a team in just two contests this season.

Can Detroit's defense step up and force quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and a Bears' passing offense that ranks 30th in the league to beat them? Or will it be more of the same with the opponent controlling the football on the ground and limiting Detroit possessions?


The Lions have done a pretty good job through the first half of the season of protecting Stafford and giving him time to make some of the big throws down the Field. Stafford leads the league in completions of 20-plus yards (41). He's been sacked 18 times, which are the 12th fewest.

Detroit's pass protection will be challenged today vs. Khalil Mack and Co. Mack has 5.5 sacks on the year and the Bears as a team rank 11th in the NFL with 23. Chicago's also given up the third fewest 20-plus-yard plays on the season (22).

New Bears defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano likes to move some of his pieces around more than former Bears DC and current Broncos head coach Vic Fangio did. The Bears will try to create some favorable matchups upfront with Mack and outside linebacker Leonard Floyd.

Will nose tackle Eddie Goldman play for the Bears today? He's battling a thigh injury. If he can't go, the Lions can focus more attention on their edges and slowing down Mack and Leonard. The Bears are already without defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, who was placed on IR with an elbow injury last month.

Related Content