Linebacker Devon Kennard is looking ahead – to Thursday, and not a day beyond the Detroit Lions’ game against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field.
Kennard’s focus is that narrow. He is fully aware of how disappointing the Lions’ season has been and where they stand with a four-game losing streak and a 3-7-1 record.
The Bears have had disappointments and problems of their own. After winning the NFC North with a 12-4 record last year, they’re 5-6 and have lost five of their last seven games.
Kennard can’t fix the Lions’ record from the first 11 games, but he can work to prevent it from getting worse. He has a “next-game” mentality, with no interest in evaluating the season or looking ahead. There will be time for that in the offseason.
“It’s obviously not good where we’re at,” Kennard said. “I’m not the type to be in the middle of the season and be jumping ship and all that. I’m trying to win a game. I’m trying to win on Thursday.
“In all honesty, I’m in the thick of it now. I’m not worried about any of that. I’m worried about Chicago and how to stop Tarik Cohen and Mitchell Trubisky and David Montgomery and that good offensive line.
“All that reflection stuff, that’s for after the season.”
Kennard’s comment about not “jumping ship” was in response to a question about his support for head coach Matt Patricia.
Kennard was one of the first free agents signed by the Lions after Patricia was hired as head coach in 2018. He has been a reliable, productive player. He had seven sacks last season and six this year.
“For me personally, I’ve learned so much football since I came here last year,” Kennard said. “Great coach (Patricia), who cares about his guys. He does the very best he can, week in and week out – puts us in position to succeed.
“It hasn’t been a good season so far, but I’m a firm believer. I’m riding with him until the wheels fall off. That’s my mentality.”
Series history: The Bears have a 100-74 lead, with five ties. They’ve won the last three games, but the Lions were 9-1 in the previous 10 games.
2019 Game 1 rewind: Trubisky threw three TD passes in the Bears’ 20-13 win in Week 10 at Soldier Field. The Lions had a 6-0 lead in quarterback Jeff Driskel’s first start in place of Matthew Stafford. They made it a one-possession game on wide receiver Kenny Golladay’s 47-yard TD catch with just under six minutes left.
Bears focus: They were almost on cruise control at this point last season. They were 8-3 after a 23-16 win over the Lions – also on Thanksgiving Day but a week earlier in the schedule – and on the way to a 12-4 won-loss record.
They won the NFC North by a comfortable margin over the second place Vikings (8-7-1).
“It’s obviously different record-wise,” Bears head coach Matt Nagy said in a conference-call interview. “Every year when you go into these years you know that they’re all different.
“Whether they’re all good-good, bad-bad, good-bad-good, it doesn’t matter. They’re different. It’s just about how you handle them.”
“I’m really proud of our locker room for the way they handled that four-game stretch that we had of losing,” Nagy said. “We battled back and won, and we just learned a lot through this process.
“I think in the end it shows kind of who we are as a team.”
Bear facts: The stats show where the Bears’ problems lie. They rank fourth in the league on defense with 188 points allowed. They rank 28th on offense with 188 points scored.
The defense last year had 36 takeaways – 27 interceptions and nine fumble recoveries. Through the first 11 games they have only 15 – seven interceptions and eight fumble recoveries.
Prediction: Trubisky and the Bears’ defense have had the Lions’ number of late. That’s not a good combination for the Lions. Trubisky threw three TD passes in a win last year and three in the first meeting this year. In that game the Lions managed only two field goals and one TD in Driskel’s first start at quarterback in place of Stafford.
Prediction: Don’t expect an offensive laser light show from either team. The Bears’ defense makes the difference.
Pick: Bears 20, Lions 13.