FanPost

On Paper: Lions vs. Bears 2.0

First and foremost, apologies for my absence last week.  I'm sure the four of you who were waiting at baited breath for my Lions/49ers preview managed to somehow get by last week.  The holidays and my trip to San Francisco prevented me from doing the research necessary.

However, I did get to see the Lions play in person for the first time this year last week.  San Francisco has a small, but very nice stadium.  Aside from being "red fogged" all morning by tailgaters in the parking lot, the fans were very welcoming.

Of course, the game itself was not all that entertaining.  Aside from the first drive, the Lions offense sputtered all game, and Drew Stanton proved to be what we had all pretty much assumed he was.  Being a Wolverine, I wasn't a fan of Stanton to begin with, but when he handed Dre Bly an interception on Sunday he became irredeemable. 

Of course, I didn't give up on Matthew Stafford after his first start and I'll do the same for Stanton.  But it's clear he doesn't have the physical tools that Stafford does, so I'm certain he won't become anything more than a backup in the NFL.  Whether he can actually become an adequate backup is still to be determined. 

Anyways, on with the show.  This week features an exciting week 17 NFC North showdown!

Lions Pass Offense (21st) vs. Bears Pass Defense (12th)

Bears

Opponent

Opponent's

Passing YPG

Passing Yards vs. Bears

Opponent's

Season QB Rating

QB Rating vs. Bears

Packers

262.9

184

102.0

92.0

Steelers

263.1

221

97.5

80.8

Seahawks

222.3

261

77.2

74.1

Lions

194.6

350

55.7

84.5

Falcons

223.8

185

80.5

68.4

Bengals

192.7

233

86.0

146.7

Browns

132.7

76

56.0

10.5

Cardinals

258.5

261

91.6

132.9

49ers

189.9

118

79.8

63.3

Eagles

259.9

244

93.3

101.6

Vikings

253.2

392

104.7

112.5

Rams

177.6

113

64.9

48.0

Packers

262.9

180

102.0

88.9

Ravens

221.9

234

87.9

135.6

Vikings

253.2

321

104.7

106.4

 

The Lions haven't announced their starting quarterback this week, but Daunte Culpepper is taking snaps with the first team in practice.  At this point, I feel like the difference between Culpepper and Stanton is negligible, as neither has shown they can consistently do anything leading the offense.  Stanton looks to be a turnover machine, and Culpepper isn't a machine at all, he manufactures nothing. 

However the Lions are facing a Chicago team whose defense has been more than disappointing.  The Bears have been hit by the injury bug early and often.  Their defensive leader Brian Urlacher was sent to the IR in week one, with his replacement, Hunter Hillenmeyer, going down two weeks later for a couple weeks.  The Bears are equally banged up in the secondary.  Their safeties are hurting, and star corner Charles Tillman cracked his ribs on Monday night and was sent to the IR.  

Still, with all of those injuries in place, it's hard to see the Lions succeed through the air.  Since Stafford has been out, this is how the Lions have done through the air (3 games): 51% completion percentage, 150 yards per game, 0 passing TDs and 7 interceptions.  That totals as a 34.1 QB rating.  I'm calling this a draw, only because of the Bears' injuries.  The fact that the Lions were successful last time the teams met is irrelevant, because Stafford was in the game.  This is a completely different (worse) offense without him.     

Lions Run Offense (24th) vs. Bears Run Defense (26th)

Bears

Opponent

Opponent's

Rushing YPG

Rushing Yards vs. Bears

Opponent's Season Avg YPC

YPC vs. Bears

Packers

118.4

76

4.4

3.5

Steelers

106.1

105

4.1

4.8

Seahawks

95.1

103

3.9

3.7

Lions

101.1

90

3.9

3.5

Falcons

112.9

68

4.1

3.0

Bengals

132.3

215

4.1

4.8

Browns

124.9

117

4.2

4.0

Cardinals

96.4

182

4.1

5.9

49ers

98.3

110

4.4

3.9

Eagles

106.7

157

4.3

5.2

Vikings

119.3

159

4.1

4.7

Rams

113.1

135

4.4

4.5

Packers

118.4

146

4.4

4.7

Ravens

130.7

124

4.5

4.0

Vikings

119.3

123

4.1

3.7

 

The Bears have given up over 100 yards on the ground in the past 10 games and 12 of their 15 games this season.  Of these 15 games, opponents outdid their season rushing yards averages nine times.

However, the last time the two met, the Lions struggled horribly to get anything going.  Kevin Smith amassed just 30 yards on 19 carries.  Now the Lions are without Smith and are relying on Maurice Morris, who has been a solid #2 back, but has failed to prove he can survive carrying the load. 

Again, this could go either way, as both teams are struggling right now.  Draw.

Bears Pass Offense (17th) vs. Lions Pass Defense (32nd)

Bears

Opponent

Opponent's Passing YPG Allowed

Passing Yards Allowed vs. Bears

Opponent's Season QB Rating Against

QB Rating Allowed vs. Bears

Packers

205.3

277

70.4

43.2

Steelers

216.2

236

84.3

104.7

Seahawks

250.4

247

95.0

126.4

Lions

265.4

141

105.9

100.4

Falcons

247.0

300

91.9

79.6

Bengals

212.4

251

74.0

64.1

Browns

247.9

225

91.6

66.7

Cardinals

233.5

369

75.3

98.6

49ers

243.2

307

77.7

33.6

Eagles

211.1

171

75.9

63.2

Vikings

223.2

147

93.7

71.6

Rams

237.3

128

96.9

96.0

Packers

205.3

209

70.4

74.9

Ravens

202.8

94

70.7

7.9

Vikings

223.2

273

93.7

108.4

 

It's no secret that Bears fans had just about reached their boiling point with Jay Cutler before last week's Monday night performance against the Vikings.  Cutler easily leads the league in interceptions (26, the nearest has 20), and his QB rating of 73.6 ranks him below such studs as Alex Smith (80.2), Matt Hasselbeck (75.7), and my personal favorite...Kyle Orton (89.3!!!). 

Monday's performance marked the emergence of wide receiver Devin Aromashodu, who gathered in seven catches for 150 yards and 1 TD, nearly doubling his career totals in all of those stats.  The Bears will likely rely on him again, as their emerging wideout Johnny Knox is out this week and Devin Hester is questionable as well. 

Then there's the Detroit defense.  I'm almost as sick of writing about how bad they are as I am watching them play every week.  The Lions surrendered another two embarrassingly huge pass plays last week and are good for at least that many each week.  Not-so-fun fact: Cutler has 52 pass plays of over 20 yards (9th most).  Even with the Bears hurting as much as they are and the fact that the Lions played better than their season averages last time they met, Chicago has this matchup in the bag.  Bears +2.

Bears Run Offense (30th) vs. Lions Run Defense (24th)

Bears

Opponent

Opponent's Rushing YPG Allowed

Rushing Yards Allowed vs. Bears

Opponent's Avg YPC Allowed

YPC Allowed vs. Bears

Packers

85.7

86

3.6

2.8

Steelers

89.3

44

3.9

2.6

Seahawks

109.5

85

4.2

3.0

Lions

125.0

151

4.4

7.6

Falcons

111.4

83

4.1

3.6

Bengals

87.7

35

3.8

2.9

Browns

145.5

170

4.5

4.6

Cardinals

113.0

70

4.6

5.8

49ers

97.7

43

3.7

2.0

Eagles

99.7

126

3.9

6.3

Vikings

90.6

43

3.9

3.9

Rams

138.4

120

4.4

3.2

Packers

85.7

59

3.6

3.5

Ravens

96.1

122

3.5

4.1

Vikings

90.6

105

3.9

3.8

 

When I was doing research for fantasy football this year, I couldn't help but be befuddled with all of the infatuation surrounding Matt Forte.  Sure he touches the ball a lot, but I never expected him to be a fantasy stud.  And since I rarely get the opportunity to pat myself on the back, lets see where Forte ranks in terms of fantasy points this year.  Answer: somewhere between the 15-20th best running back depending on your league settings. 

In real life stats, Forte is actually faring much worse.  He ranks 27th in rushing yards per game (55.2) and his 3.4 yards per carry ranks him 46th among qualified backs.   

This season, the Bears' opponents have performed better against the Bears than their season averages in nine out of 15 games (for both YPC and YPG).  However, it should be noted that nine of the Bears' games this season have been against top 10 run defenses. 

The last time the two faced eachother, Forte ran all over the Lions in his best performance of the season. Forte had 121 yards on just 10 carries including a touchdown.  It was the only time this season he has surpassed 100 yards rushing, but much of that was bolstered by a 61 yard rush. 

That has pretty much been the story of the Lions run defense: holding a team to 1-3 yards per carry for most of the game, but giving up one or two big plays.  Last week, they managed to hold Frank Gore to 71 yards on 28 carries (2.5 a carry), and that was without their leading tackler, Larry Foote.  Foote is questionable again this week, but rookie DeAndre Levy has proven that he can be an adequate replacement in the middle. 

Forte may break a long play or two, but I think it's very unlikely he consistently gets to the second level.  Lions +1

Special Teams

Last time the Lions played the Bears special teams killed them.  This time, however, the Bears are going to be without Johnny Knox, his backup Danieal Manning, and possibly Devin Hester.  If all of those player are out, Rashied Davis will likely take over return duties.  Davis has return experience, but has not shown much effectiveness.

The Lions new return man is Brian Witherspoon.  Witherspoon's most memorable moment in his Lions debut last week was when he took the field for the opening kickoff and I squinted to read his name and number.  Puzzled, I searched his number on my game program only to find that the Lions apparently didn't have a #36 on the roster.  Well, "49ers Gameday", it turns out they do.  Witherspoon is apparently incredibly fast, but wasn't all that impressive on Sunday. 

Neither team really poses a threat to change the game, and both kickers are adequate.  Therefore, Draw #3. 

Overall

Chicago comes out with the convincing +1 advantage.  This is a matchup between two bad teams who have seemingly nothing to play for.  Both teams are suffering from important injuries.  In all honesty, this is not much of an enticing game.  Lions fans are more likely interested in St. Louis' game, which may determine if the Lions will have the #1 pick again this year.  Still, this game means a lot to the players involved, as it's their last chance to convince coaches they deserve a spot on the team next year. 

Normally, I would give the Lions the nod in a matchup this close for the last game of the season.  But because Chicago has a capable quarterback, I'm convinced a big play or two from Cutler will be the difference in this low-scoring affair.  17-6 Bears. 

 

Happy new year, POD!  Let's hope I'm wrong and we'll be undefeated in the new decade!

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Pride Of Detroit or its writers.

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