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O'HARA'S FRIDAY FOCUS: Bears' defense can cause problems

It's the eternal, mental debate -- which road to choose when a golden opportunity arrives. Voices of caution and experience whisper memories of failure caused by being blinded by rampant overconfidence.

We are back in the mind game again in Sunday's rematch of old rivals – the Detroit Lions at home against the Chicago Bears. The first-place Lions are surging toward a possible NFC North title against a Bears team heading nowhere in a season of injuries and disappointment.

Pawn the silver? Take the hammer to the kids' college-fund cookie jar? Again?

It's enticing to go all in on picking the Lions. They are solid favorites with an 8-4 record and riding a four-game winning streak. The Bears are 3-9.

So slam the accelerator to the floor with visions of a Godfather Lock from yesteryear?

Or do the brake lights come on with memories, both recent and past, of when the Bears blocked the Lions' path?

Such as Game 4 of this year – a 17-14 win for the Bears at Soldier Field that gave the Lions their third straight loss and a 1-3 record that put their season on the brink of failure.

Or the final game of 2000, when the Lions needed a win to clinch a playoff berth. With everything going their way – home-field advantage at the Silverdome, and an early 10-0 lead – the Lions lost on a final-play field goal.

With scars of past defeats comes a reality check – and reality checks never bounce. In the debate process, add caution from the wisdom of Lions safety Glover Quin on why not to take any team lightly.

"Like I said all the time, we were the Bears last year," Quin said, reflecting on how the Lions of 2015 got to 3-7 after a 1-7 start. "We've been there. You don't take teams for granted. These guys are NFL players.

"Like I said earlier, this is a division game. Records get thrown out the window. This is a tough game."

A tough choice, with so much to consider.

Lions-Bears breakdown: If the Bears beat the Lions once, they can do it twice. It shouldn't happen, but it can. Some raw stats favor the Bears.

On offense, the Bears rank 16th in yards gained. The Lions are 21st.

The Bears have a young running back in rookie Jordan Howard who has gone over the 100-yard mark five times in nine games, starting with a 111-yard effort against the Lions in Game 4.

The Lions' top runner, Ameer Abdullah, has been out since the first half of Week 2. As a team, the Lions have gone the last 10 games without rushing for 100 yards.

On defense, the Bears rank seventh in yards allowed. The Lions are tied for 15th.

None of that makes the Lions look like a lock.

Prediction: But there are other stats and matchups. The biggest stat is the won-loss column. The Lions are 8-4 for a reason. The Bears are 3-9 for a reason.

The Lions have allowed 20.9 points per game but only 16.6 in the last six games. The Bears have given up 22.5 per game and 21.1 in the last six.

Lions QB Matthew Stafford is a top 5 candidate for the MVP Award.

Matt Barkley is the third QB to start for the Bears this year. He has two career starts, both this year, with a 1-1 record.

I like the Lions to win this game, but experience says read the caution signs.

Lions 26, Bears 19.

Series history: The Bears have a 96-71 lead. The teams have played seven ties. The Bears' 17-14 win in Week 4 at Soldier Field ended the Lions' six-game winning streak against the Bears.

Take a look back at pictures from many of the showdowns between the Lions and Bears in Detroit over the years.

2016 Game 1 Rewind: The Lions failed to score an offensive touchdown. Matt Prater's two field goals, Andre Roberts' 85-yard punt return TD and a two-point conversion catch by Golden Tate accounted for the Lions' points.

Stafford's two interceptions are his only game with multiple interceptions since he had two in a loss to the Chiefs in London in Game 8 of last season.

Lions' focus – adjust: The circumstances of the rematch with the Bears aren't the same as an earlier rematch with the Minnesota Vikings. The Lions swept that one.

The two games were played weeks apart, with a bye and a game against the Jaguars separating them. The team the Lions saw in their overtime victory in Week 9 was pretty much the one they saw in the rematch in Week 12.

In ways good and bad, the Bears are a different team in Week 13 than they were in Week 4. They're playing better defense than they were going into the first game, when they'd allowed 85 points in the first three games.

However, they've lost talent on offense. Barkley is making his third pro start. Three top pass-catchers are missing who started in Week 4. Wide receiver Kevin White and tight end Zach Miller are on injured reserve. Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery is serving the last game of a four-game suspension.

The Bears have developed a legitimate running game with Howard, and some of their young defenders are coming around.

Compared to the two games against the Vikings, the rematch with the Bears is almost like preparing for an entirely different opponent.

"A couple of weeks ago, we had the Vikings," said head coach Jim Caldwell. "Teams are relatively the same in terms of injuries and things that you deal with. This particular case, it can change quite significantly."

Bears focus – youth, development: Head coach John Fox is looking for young players to finish strong and have a carryover effect for next year. The Bears have to win out to beat the 6-10 won-loss they posted last year, his first year as head coach.

The Bears can cause problems, especially on defense.

Floyd's production of late has shown why the Bears drafted him ninth overall. He leads all rookies with seven sacks, and he has gotten 6.5 of them in the Bears' last six games. He missed one of them with an injury.

Floyd started the first game against the Lions and played 19 of 63 defensive snaps without a tackle or sack.

Floyd is just one player in what has been a two-year changeover on defense under Fox. The Bears have used a combination of draft picks and free agents to build the unit.

In the first game, the Bears held Stafford to 213 yards passing, with two interceptions, two sacks and a passer rating of 56.8. It was Stafford's lowest passer rating of the year by more than 25 points and one of two games in which he did not throw a TD pass.

"If you look back two years, there aren't many familiar faces remaining," Fox said of his defense in his conference-call interview this week.  "Our front seven has been pretty much overhauled and changed, and, I think, improved."

Give and take: Turnover ratio is one of the key stats in determining outcomes, and the Lions have a wide edge over the Bears. The Lions are tied with Buffalo and Seattle for fifth at plus six. The Bears are 29th at minus nine.

That's a differential of 15 turnovers, in the Lions' favor.

The Lions have 14 takeaways – 10 interceptions and four fumble recoveries – and eight giveaways – five interceptions and four lost fumbles.

The Bears have eight takeaways – five interceptions and three fumble recoveries – and 17 giveaways – nine interceptions and eight fumbles lost.

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