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The Cheat Sheet: Lions must stop run, force Trubisky to pass

Everything you need to know for Week 10 Lions vs. Bears

NFL: Chicago Bears at Buffalo Bills Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no secret the Bears offense is run (no pun intended) by a two-headed monster in the backfield. The Bears have done a great job of funneling their offense through Tarik Cohen and Jordan Howard.

They currently rank seventh in the NFL in rush yards per game (128.4) and 21st in pass yards per game.

Their formula for winning is simple.

  1. Rush the ball effectively
  2. Throw enough to keep teams honest
  3. Play outstanding defense

The Bears are second in the NFL in takeaways (24) and in turnover differential (+10). For the Lions to pull this one off one the road they are going to need to stop the run, and limit turnovers.

The Lions have been better against the run overall since acquiring Damon Harrison, but they still have given up far too many big plays in the run game. It won’t take much daylight for a guy like Tarik Cohen to make you pay.

Turnovers have haunted the Lions in recent weeks. In the last two game they had key opportunities to narrow the score and Matthew Stafford ended up coughing up the ball. Add Khalil Mack back into the mix for this game and it could be a long day for Stafford and Co.

Opponent snapshot

The Bears have to be feeling good. Not only are they coming off of a two-game winning streak, but they are in sole possession of first place in the NFC North. And they just won a game by 32 points in which their quarterback completed only 12 passes. The Bears are 3-1 at home this season and should feel good about notching a fourth win this week.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Chicago Bears Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Bears’ biggest threat

Khalil Mack

Before his ankle injury, Mack was the sole contender for Defensive Player of the Year. And even though he’s missed the last two games, his stats still stand out.

Look at his stats in just his first four games:

  • Five sacks
  • Four forced fumbles
  • One fumble recovery
  • One interception
  • One touchdown

Mack is one of the few defensive players in the NFL who can take over a game by himself. That’s not a good sign for a Lions team that allowed Matthew Stafford to get sacked 10 times against Minnesota last week.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Arizona Cardinals Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Bears’ weak link

Mitchell Trubisky

Trubisky might be the complete opposite of Mack. He’s the one guy on the Bears that can completely wreck a game (and not in a good way) for the Bears. Trubisky is a fantastic athlete, but he relies on his legs far too much to bail him out. His erratic play has shades of Blake Bortles to it.

Right now, he’s playing like a bottom-half-of-the-NFL quarterback on the division-leading team.

Simply looking at the numbers, Trubisky is closer to the middle of the pack:

  • Completion Percentage: 64.2 (21st)
  • Total Yards: 1,949 (20th)
  • Yards Per Attempt: 7.5 (17th)
  • Passer rating 96.2 (17th)

For a quarterback, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. For Trubisky, that certainly has been the case this season. Despite being middle of the pack with even interceptions (tied for 13th) he ranks third with 18 interceptable passes.

Can the Matt Patricia dial up enough on defense to cause Trubisky to stumble? The answer to that question may determine the outcome of the game.

Bottom line

It’s hard to believe the last Lions victory was only a few weeks ago. A lot can change in just two weeks. Entering this week, the Lions are coming off a rough two-game losing streak while the Bears are enjoying back-to-back wins.

The harsh reality for the Lions is that this is game could make or break them. A win puts them in the thick of the NFC North race despite a rough previous two weeks.

Division games are always close and I don’t see this one being any different. The Bears will be able to do enough on offense to keep the Lions guessing and a healthy Khalil Mack may be too much for a struggling offensive line.


Bears 24 Lions 17

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