Sometimes the new kids on the block are for real.
The Chicago Bears – a foundation franchise in the NFL that has been made over in its 2018 version that is stocked with young talent – are for real.
That's the primary thing we learned from the Bears' 34-22 victory over the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field on Sunday. The Bears are for real. They wanted to prove it to the Lions from the start, and they did by racing to a 26-0 lead.
The Bears have played their way to the top of the NFC North with a three-game winning streak that has given them a 6-3 won-loss record.
And sadly for the Lions, they're at the opposite end of the spectrum. They've played – or misplayed – their way into last place in the division with a three-game losing streak that has dropped their record to 3-6.
Among the other things we learned from Sunday is that the game is easier when the stars lead the way; accountability and production count for something in a losing cause, if only the appreciation it generates among teammates; there can be a bright spot in a losing effort; and one game can make the past mean nothing and the future look brighter.
We start with the Bears' fast start on the way to proving they are for real:
Slow starts have been a problem for the Lions for the last two seasons, and the Bears took advantage of another one.
Four touchdowns on their first four possessions gave them a 26-0 lead, and it could have been worse if kicker Cody Parkey hadn't begun his nightmarish day by hitting the upright on two extra-point attempts.
There was nothing fluky or lucky about how the Bears took command from the start. They had drives of 75, 86 and 71 yards for their first three scores, then converted an interception to a 14-yard TD drive that put the cap on the 26-point binge.
"They were just more ready to go than we were," head coach Matt Patricia said after the game.
It must have been a hard thing to say by a coach who's a hard driver. Unfortunately, it was dead on. We saw the same before Patricia got here, and we've seen it again this season.
Star power: The Bears' stars came out blazing Sunday. There was barely a twinkle from the Lions' leaders.
Second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky passed for a career-high 355 yards and three touchdowns, and he alertly ran for the touchdown that extended Chicago's lead to 26-0.
Linebacker Khalil Mack returned from a two-game absence caused by an ankle injury to sack Matthew Stafford twice.
Wide receiver Allen Robinson, also back after missing two games with an injury, had six catches for 133 yards and two touchdowns.
Trubisky, Mack and Robinson have been key additions to Chicago's roster the last two years.
There was criticism of the trade the Bears made last year to move up one spot in the draft so they could guarantee drafting Trubisky second overall. Based on what we've seen to date, the Bears have their franchise quarterback of the present and future.
There was no criticism about the Bears acquiring Mack from the Raiders in a trade before the season began. He's an offense wrecker.
Robinson was signed as a free agent after four seasons in Jacksonville, where he made the Pro Bowl in 2015 with 80 catches for 1,400 yards and a league-leading 14 TDs.
The Bears have a good, solid roster, with strength in the trenches and playmakers. They look like they'll be for real for a while.
Bright spot: It didn't win the game, but rookie Kerryon Johnson's effort to score two touchdowns won some points for the way he continued to compete hard in a losing effort. He scored his first touchdown with a leap over the line of scrimmage from a yard out late in the first quarter and got the second on a 13-yard screen pass midway through the fourth quarter.
It would have been easy for any player to check out, rookie or veteran. Johnson didn't, and that bodes well for his future.
Taking blame: Defensive tackle Damon Harrison scored some points for accountability by using his Twitter account to blame himself for two of the Bears' TDs. Both were runs – by Tarik Cohen in the first quarter, and Trubisky's run in the second.
Harrison was right in saying he should have squeezed inside instead of getting upfield to rush the quarterback on Trubisky's TD. However, the Bears had a clear advantage in the box against what was not the optimum defensive design for that situation.
Past, and present: Before Sunday's loss, the Lions had won the last three games against the Bears and were 9-1 in the last 10 games. And the Bears had lost 10 straight games against NFC North teams.
None of that matters now.
Performance always tops stats.