It’s Chicago Bears week, and while I’d love to gloss over this game and immediately claim #WeOwnTheBears, this year I’m not so sure. Chicago has looked extremely competitive this season, already pulling off wins against the Steelers, Ravens and Panthers. In fact, Chicago was five yards away from pulling off an upset over the Falcons to kick off the year.
The Bears may only be 3-6, but they’ve already matched their win total from last year, and they’ve nearly won a few other games this season. This isn’t your 2016 Chicago Bears; this is a team undoubtedly on the rise.
Let’s take a closer look at Detroit’s divisional foe.
Key additions: CB Prince Amukamara,
S Quintin Demps (IR), CB Marcus Cooper, QB Mike Glennon, TE Dion Sims, WR Markus Wheaton, WR Kendall Wright
Key losses: QB Jay Cutler, WR Alshon Jeffery
In-season trade: WR Dontrelle Inman
Key draft picks:
- QB Mitchell Trubisky (Round 1)
- TE Adam Shaheen (Round 2)
- S Eddie Jackson (Round 4)
- RB Tarik Cohen (Round 4)
2017 season results (3-6)
Week 1 - vs. Falcons - Lost, 17-23
Week 2 - at Buccaneers - Lost, 7-29
Week 3 - vs. Steelers - Won, 23-17 (OT)
Week 4 - at Packers - Lost, 14-35
Week 5 - vs. Vikings - Lost, 17-20
Week 6 - at Ravens - Won, 27-24 (OT)
Week 7 - vs. Panthers - Won, 17-3
Week 8 - at Saints - Lost, 12-20
Week 10 - vs. Packers - Lost, 16-23
Reasons the Lions should be optimistic:
The Chicago Bears offense has just not been able to get things going all year, regardless of whether Mitchell Trubisky has been in the game or not. Looking at the scores above, you may notice that the Bears have failed to score 20 points in seven of nine games. There’s been no noticeable difference in offensive output whether it has been Trubisky or Mike Glennon.
Bears under Glennon (1-3): 15.25 PPG, 188.75 passing YPG, 117.5 rushing YPG, passer rating 76.9
Bears under Trubisky (2-3): 17.8 PPG, 154.6 passing YPG, 125.2 rushing YPG, passer rating 75.6
I know what you’re thinking: The horrible Cleveland Browns offense just walked all over the Lions defense. That may be true, but Cleveland actually has a very respectable running game (sixth in DVOA) and they were coming off a bye. The Bears don’t have the benefit of either of those. Their running game is just 19th in DVOA and they’re averaging just 4.2 YPC (12th). It’s not a horrible unit, but it’s average, at best.
And then there’s the passing game, which ranks second-to-last in DVOA. Trubisky has done a better job protecting the ball than his predecessor Mike Glennon, throwing just two interceptions in his five starts, but he has still yet to find any efficiency. He’s completing only 51.3 percent of his passes and has a passer rating of just 75.6—which is actually slightly lower than Glennon’s.
We’ll talk more about the Bears’ defense in the next section, but it’s not like they’re completely unbeatable. They have a young, inexperienced secondary that has just four interceptions on the year (fourth-fewest) and only 34 passes defended (seventh-fewest).
Also, this team just lost to the Packers (without Aaron Rodgers) at home a week after the Lions dominated them in Green Bay.
Reasons the Lions should be pessimistic
Thank goodness Taylor Decker is back, because the Bears have themselves an arsenal of pass rushers. Akiem Hicks is 11th in the league with 7.0 sacks this year, while second-year defensive end Leonard Floyd is much better than his statline suggests (29 tackles, 4.5 sacks). As a team, their 26 sacks rank t-seventh in the league.
This Chicago team can also stop the run. They’re allowing just 3.9 YPC (12th) and are led by impressive nose tackle Eddie Goldman and a decent set of linebackers including Danny Trevathan and Pernell McPhee.
While this defense isn’t all that flashy at times, they get the job done. They’ve only allowed more than 24 points twice this year, and overall they’re ceding just 21.6 points per game, which is good for 13th-best in the NFL.
This is a team that the Lions actually match up fairly well against, though, admittedly, it’s very reminiscent of last week’s matchup against the Browns. A completely impotent passing attack with no real weapons and, at the very least, a competent running game. However, the Lions should fare better against the run this week, considering the Browns both had a bye week and have a significantly better offensive line than Chicago.
Defensively, the Bears are going to give Matthew Stafford some trouble. The Lions’ pass protection has looked better recently, but if Taylor Decker doesn’t shake off the rust and T.J. Lang can’t return to the lineup on Sunday, Stafford could be taking hits early and often.
But if Detroit can keep him upright, the Lions should be able to beat up on this mediocre secondary. Stafford has been on fire out of the bye week, and I could certainly see that continuing this week.
However, anything can (and usually does) happen at Soldier Field. So expect the unexpected.