Skip to main content

5 things to watch: Lions vs. Bears

It was only 11 days ago the Lions and Bears laced it up in Chicago, with the Bears coming away with a convincing 34-22 victory.

It's a unique situation playing an opponent twice this close together, plus the added difficulties of it being a short week of preparation for both clubs. It should be an interesting matchup today on Thanksgiving Day at Ford Field.

Here are five things to look out for:


Detroit's allowed 712 passing yards and six touchdowns the last two weeks. Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky accounted for 355 of those yards and half the touchdowns.

To be fair, the Lions were without All-Pro cornerback Darius Slay for the first game in Chicago, but he did play last week vs. Carolina, and Cam Newton still had a field day.

Detroit's been good against the run the last two weeks (100 combined yards allowed), but they can't keep giving up passing totals like they have the last two weeks and expect to keep winning.

Bears receivers Allen Robinson (133) and Anthony Miller (122) each went over 100 yards receiving in the first matchup. The Bears completed eight passes that went for more than 20 yards.

It will be interesting to see if Trubisky plays today (shoulder injury - doubtful) or if it's backup Chase Daniel. Either way, Detroit will be looking for their cornerbacks to play much better than they have the previous two games.


Running back Kerryon Johnson has been exactly what the Detroit Lions' offense has needed to fulfill the objective this offseason of becoming a more balanced offense and better running football team. He has 641 yards rushing (5.4 average) and three touchdowns through 10 games, including two 100-yard performances.

But Johnson isn't available for today's game after leaving last week's contest in the third quarter with a knee injury. In the NFL, there's always been a next-man-up mentality, and that's what Detroit will have in regard to their run game today vs. Chicago's No. 1 ranked rushing defense.

LeGarrette Blount, Theo Riddick and Zach Zenner could all have their numbers called to tote the rock. Neither of those three have the same all-around skillset as Johnson, so it's key for Jim Bob Cooter to tailor his calls in the run game to what these three do well. It will be especially important because offenses can't be one dimensional against the Bears' defense and hope to come out with a win. The Lions need to have at least a little success on the ground to keep Chicago honest on defense.


Bears All-Pro outside linebacker Khalil Mack recorded five tackles and two sacks against the Lions in the last matchup. The Bears recorded six sacks total and hit Stafford eight times.

Mack leads the Bears with 8.0 sacks and leads the NFL with five forced fumbles. He has 44.5 sacks since the start of 2015, which is tied for the second most in the NFL.

The Bears will move Mack around to both sides, but Lions right tackle Rick Wagner will probably get the majority of the work on him. That's a tough task to ask of one lineman, so expect there to be plenty of help for Wagner in the form of double teams and chips from the backs.

The Bears' defensive front is talented all the way around, but the Lions can't let Mack in particular wreck this game for them on offense.


The Lions will once again not have the services of veteran wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr., but second-year receiver Kenny Golladay showed last week he can be a No. 1 target in this league when he has to be.

Golladay hauled in eight catches on 14 targets last week against the Panthers for 113 yards and the game-winning touchdown. He's big and physical, and is now starting to understand what teams are trying to do to him from a coverage standpoint and how to beat it. He's also building a nice rapport with quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Golladay was Detroit's leading receiving in Chicago a couple weeks ago. He caught six passes for 78 yards and a touchdown in that contest. Bears head coach Matt Nagy really likes Golladay, and will be very aware of where he is on the field. Can Golladay prove to be a thorn in Chicago's side once again, and more importantly provide this Lions' passing attack another spark?


Chicago feeds off them. The Bears are No. 1 in the NFL with a plus-13 turnover margin. They lead the NFL with 27 total takeaways, 18 of those via interceptions from 10 different players.

But maybe the most important stat of all is the Bears have 97 points off those turnovers, which means they do a terrific job turning them into killers for their opponents. To put that number in a little bit of perspective, New England is second in the NFL in turning turnovers into points. They've scored 76 points off turnovers.

Stafford and Co. didn't turn the ball over against Carolina. It was one of the keys to securing that 20-19 victory. The Lions lost the turnover battle 3-0 the first time around against the Bears.

The Lions have to be very good with the football in this one because the Bears are the best team in the NFL at generating turnovers, and then making teams pay for them by scoring points off of them.

Related Content