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Five things to watch: Lions at Bears

Detroit squares off against division rival Chicago for the first of their two meeting this year later today at Soldier Field. The Lions are trying to win their third straight to stay on the heels of division leading Minnesota.

Here are five things to watch out for in this matchup:


The Bears moved up in the draft to take quarterback Mitchell Trubisky No. 2 overall. Trubisky will be making his sixth career start after taking over for Mike Glennon a few weeks into the season.

Trubisky is a big, athletic quarterback, who can make all the throws, and also use his feet to make plays. The Bears are hoping he's their quarterback for the next decade or more, so this is the first of what could be many meetings for the Lions against Trubisky in the future.

The Bears haven't completely opened up the playbook to their rookie quarterback just yet, but he is coming off his best performance of the year last week vs. Green Bay, when he completed 21 of 35 passes for 297 yards and a score.

He's completing around 50 percent of his passes this season, but has just two interceptions, which is a low number for a rookie.



For the first time this season, we should see all five starters active and playing upfront along Detroit's offensive line.

Taylor Decker has returned to his left tackle spot after sitting out the first eight games. He rotated in and out with Brian Mihalik last week, but it's expected that Decker will get most of the workload today vs. the Bears.

Right guard T.J. Lang missed last week's game with a concussion, but he's been a full participant in practice all week..

When Bob Quinn signed Lang and right tackle Rick Wagner in free agency back in March, today's lineup is what he had in mind for the offensive line in Detroit.


The Lions rank 10th in the NFL in run defense, but are coming off a terrible performance in that department last week, where they allowed the Cleveland Browns to rack up 201 yards on the ground. It was the third game this season the Lions have allowed more than 150 yards on the ground to an opponent.

"We've had some games where we've struggled," Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said this week. "Yeah, that's a little bit frustrating because then I always go back and the first thing I look at is not our guys, I look at what did I do because I know we can play."

The Bears own the league's ninth ranked rushing offense with more than 121 yards per game. With a rookie quarterback under center, the Bears' game plan each and every week is to establish the run, play good defense and take the pressure off Trubisky.

"If we allow this group this week to rush for 200 yards, it's going to be a long day just like it was last week," Austin said. "We had a real struggle last week because we weren't doing a good job in stopping the run."


Lions veteran receiver Golden Tate has been on a pretty good tear the last month. He's averaging seven receptions and 96 yards with a couple touchdowns over his last four games. He's the first receiver in the last two years to go four straight games with more than 85 receiving yards, and he leads the NFL in yards after the catch.

Not only do the Lions have their starting five upfront back together, but they're expected to have their full complement of skill weapons in the passing game, now that Kenny Golladay is back.

With Golladay and Eric Ebron making plays down the field, Tate could find plenty of room to roam in the short and intermediate portions of the field.

"Well, I think he's playing receiver, but he has running back skills if that makes sense, and that's not a slight on his receiving ability at all," Bears head coach John Fox said of Tate on a conference call this week.

"But to have those type of skills, whether it's his return man or even as an offensive player. Once that ball gets in your hands, I think he does lead the league in yards after catch. So, he's been doing that for some time, not just in Detroit."


The Lions are trying to stay perfect against the NFC North this year after wins in Minnesota and in Green Bay earlier this season.

Since Jim Caldwell took over as head coach of the Lions in 2014, he's accumulated a 13-7 record against division foes. That .650 winning percentage over the past four seasons is an improvement of 40 percent over the first 12 seasons since the NFL realigned the divisions in 2002.

Caldwell is 5-1 vs. the Bears, with his only loss coming in Chicago early last season.

Can the Lions stay perfect in the division this year with a win today and improve their overall record to 6-4?

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