FanPost

On Paper: Lions vs. Bears 2.0

Ah, the game that, since week one, Lions fans have had circled on their schedules which sits right next to their Mike Pereira dartboards.  They've wanted blood ever since "the process of the catch" pretty much set the tone for the rest of the season.  This week, the Lions finally get their chance of revenge when the face the Bears 8-3, who everyone is finally starting to pay attention to.  Chicago has been called a "pretender" all season, yet they keep on winning.  Are they getting the lucky bounces or are they just continuing to fly under the radar?  Do the Lions absolve the demons from week one?  All that, and more, on this week's "On Paper". 

Lions Pass Offense (6th) vs. Bears Pass Defense (17th)

(Teams in bold were the home team)

Opponent

Opponent's

Passing YPG

Passing Yards vs. Bears

Opponent's

Season QB Rating

QB Rating vs. Bears

Lions

257.8

171

80.5

59.8

Cowboys

276.4

374

91.5

78.4

Packers

255.6

316

97.0

92.5

Giants

249.0

195

90.3

79.2

Panthers

157.8

96

55.1

12.0

Seahawks

221.4

242

76.3

87.7

Redskins

242.0

200

76.0

56.8

Bills

208.4

299

81.6

67.4

Vikings

213.2

170

72.1

44.5

Dolphins

235.6

187*

79.0

63.4*

Eagles

252.6

333

97.8

94.2

*Tyler Thigpen as QB

The Bears have faced six top 10 passing offenses and held every one to below season QB rating average.

Unfortunately, there's a bevy statistics that show that this Bears defense is much better than 17th overall.  The Bears are first in the league in opponent's QB rating (69.3), 2nd in interceptions (16), 1st in opponent's yards per attempt (6.2), 2nd in pass plays of 40 or longer allowed and 10th in pass plays of over 20 allowed.  Scary enough?

It's not all horrible, though.  Shaun Hill Drew Stanton should get some time as the Bears are only 13th in sacks (23), and if Stanton plays smart (biggest "if statement" ever) and takes what the Bears defense gives him, he has a chance to slowly accumulate some yards, as the Bears are 16th in opponent's completion percentage (61.3).

With the news that Hill is likely out for the season with a broken finger, you can throw all of that analysis away.  Stanton will likely start, and this offense will not be anywhere near as explosive as it has been this season.  I expect him to probably set career highs in yards and attempts, but it will still be an ugly day.  Bears +2.

Lions Run Offense (28th) vs. Bears Run Defense (2nd)

Opponent

Opponent's

Rushing YPG

Rushing Yards vs. Bears

Opponent's Season Avg YPC

YPC vs. Bears

Lions

84.9

20

3.6

1.0

Cowboys

89.4

36

3.8

1.8

Packers

98.4

63

4.0

4.2

Giants

138.0

189

4.6

5.9

Panthers

101.4

85

3.9

3.4

Seahawks

77.9

111

3.5

3.6

Redskins

90.7

121

4.0

4.3

Bills

110.1

46

4.5

2.6

Vikings

120.2

70

4.4

3.0

Dolphins

105.9

39

3.8

3.0

Eagles

148.1

105

4.5

4.8

While the Bears' pass defense is much scarier than it looks, the Bears run defense isn't quite as intimidating as their ranking suggests.  The Bears have faced only three opponents in the top half of the league in rushing, while they have faced three of the five bottom rush offenses.   However, they still rank 4th in yards per carry allowed (3.6) and have not allowed a rush of over 40 yards. 

One interesting stat I found was that the Bears are actually 25th in plays of 20 or longer allowed on the ground.  It is a bit of an anomaly given the rest of the data, but it is definitely something to consider along with the strength of opponents the Bears have faced this season. 

Still, it remains hard to imagine the Lions game getting on track this week.  There were some positive signs last week, with Maurice Morris actually averaging 6.1 a carry on nine attempts, but then you look to find that Aaron Brown averaged 2.8 on 13 carries.  The importance of this matchup isn't what Detroit's box score will look like, but if their running game will be effective enough to keep Chicago honest.  The Lions will undoubtedly try to move the chains through the air, but their ability to do so relies on the success of a poor running game.  Bears +2

Bears Pass Offense (26th) vs. Lions Pass Defense (18th)

Opponent

Opponent's Passing YPG Allowed

Passing Yards Allowed vs. Bears

Opponent's Season QB Rating Against

QB Rating Allowed vs. Bears

Lions

224.9

372

94.5

108.3

Cowboys

244.0

277

101.4

136.7

Packers

208.2

221

70.0

82.5

Giants

186.4

114*

76.5

36.4*

Panthers

205.6

51**

80.6

10.1**

Seahawks

278.6

290

88.1

69.4

Redskins

269.4

281

90.4

54.3

Bills

209.9

188

97.6

97.6

Vikings

215.2

237

89.8

87.4

Dolphins

201.4

156

82.2

64.8

Eagles

214.0

247

76.6

146.2

*Cutler + Collins + Hanie

**Collins + Hanie

In the games that Jay Cutler has started and finished, the Bears outgained season averages in seven of nine games, while surpassing QB rating averages in only four of nine.  The Bears are 22nd in QB rating (80.2), but get sacked more than any team (41 times or 3.7 times a game),

The Bears are not much of  a big threat for long plays (26th  in 20+ yard plays, 22nd in 40+ yard plays), but they are still averaging an 8th best 7.5 yards per attempt, meaning they are very efficient with the yards they pick up. 

Cutler, himself, has been much more impressive than last year.  His personal QB rating is a very respectable 90.4, and his TD/INT ratio is sitting at an above average 16:10.

The Lions pass defense took a major hit last week as Tom Brady abused the likes of Alphonso Smith and pretty much everyone else, too.  Brady threw for four touchdowns and only six incompletions.  Cutler is no Brady, but in week one, he went for 372 yards, two touchdowns and one interception (QB rating: 108.3). 

The Lions ability to pressure Cutler will, once again, be the key to this game.  A lot of this matchup depends on the health of Kyle Vanden Bosch, who recorded ten tackles against the Bears earlier in the season.  He has sat out of practice all week with an undisclosed injury and couldn't finish the game against the Patriots.  Having no insider information, I consider him doubtful.  Still, the Lions should be able to create some pressure and hopefully create multiple turnovers.  But the Bears will be too effective for the Lions to win this matchup.  Bears +1.

Bears Run Offense (21st) vs. Lions Run Defense (24th)

Opponent

Opponent's Rushing YPG Allowed

Rushing Yards Allowed vs.

Bears

Opponent's Avg YPC Allowed

YPC Allowed vs. Bears

Lions

128.6

101

4.6

3.3

Cowboys

114.0

38

4.3

2.0

Packers

112.5

77

4.5

4.3

Giants

100.2

59

4.0

3.7

Panthers

130.5

218

4.1

5.2

Seahawks

120.4

61

4.2

4.4

Redskins

131.5

66

4.9

4.1

Bills

167.4

105

4.6

3.4

Vikings

92.7

130

3.6

3.4

Dolphins

103.9

135

3.8

3.4

Eagles

102.5

131

4.1

4.7

This season, the Bears have outperformed yardage expectations in four of eleven games and exceeded yards per carry averages in just three of eleven games.  Lately, however, they've been on a bit of a roll, as they surpassed 100 yards in their last four games. 

The Bears are only 23rd in yards per carry and have struggled to find a rhythm in their running game.  In terms of long plays, the Bears are slightly above average.  They rank 15th in plays of 20 or longer, and 5th in plays of 40 or longer (however, they've only had 2).  It is also important to note that the Bears have only lost one fumble on the season running the ball, so don't expect Forte to cough it up on Sunday. 

The Lions run defense is probably not as good as their ranking suggests.  They give up a lot of their yards through the air, so total yardage is probably not the best measure for them.  In terms of yards per carry, the Lions are 28th, giving up 4.6 yards per rush.  I don't really expect the Bears to rely much on their running game, as it wasn't all that successful in week one (Forte finished with 50 yards on 17 carries).  But when the Bears do run the ball, I expect them to be mildly successful.  Bears +0.5

Turnovers

The Bears are first in the league in takeaways, but they are 24th in giveaways per game, leaving them 10th in overall turnover margin.  Detroit is forcing the 7th most turnovers, while giving the ball up more than 20 other teams in the league.  That leaves them at 14th in turnover margin.  Most of Chicago's giveaways are interceptions, same for their takeaways.  Overall, the Lions may have a chance to get to Cutler and force an interception or two, but on paper, neither team has a distinct advantage here.  Draw

Special Teams

Detroit remains first in kickoff return average and sixth in punt return average.  The Bears are 3rd in both.  Detroit is 8th in kick coverage and 26th in punt coverage.  Chicago is 23rd in kick coverage and 6th in punt coverage. 

Both teams have decent threats in special teams and are vulnerable in either kick or punt coverage.  I wouldn't be surprised to see either team make a game-changing special teams play this week, even though neither team did much last time the two played.  Neither team has a statistical advantage over the other, however, so it's anotherdraw.

Penalties

As we all know by now, the Lions are worst in the league in penalties.  The Bears are just about average at 14th in the league.  Nothing fancy here.  Bears +1.

Overall

Well, this is depressing.  Assuming Stanton is the starter, the Lions don't have an advantage in any matchup.  While the Bears don't hold a decisive advantage in any matchup (except against Detroit's running game), they do come out with an overall +6.5 advantage.  That marks the highest advantage yet this season.

Lost in the anger and confusion of the week one matchup was the fact that, although the Lions led most of the way, the Bears dominated ball possession and yardage.  The Bears outgained the Lions 463-168 and averaged 6.6 yards per play to the Lions 2.9.  Of course, much of this can be blamed on Stafford going down in the first half, but the Lions are now in an even worse situation with Stanton being the starter on Sunday. 

You can say all you want about the Bears record being undeserved, but when you look at the team on paper, they aren't nearly as bad as everyone makes them out to be.  Their defense is very solid, their passing game is much improved since last season, and they are starting to make some strides in the running game, too.  Chicago may have been fortunate earlier in the season, but they aren't relying on luck anymore.  They are solid football team. Lions 13 Bears 31.    

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

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