It may sound weird to say for a team that has lost five of their last six games, but the Chicago Bears are trending in the right direction—especially on the offensive side of the ball.
To start the season, quarterback Justin Fields looked like his second year wasn’t going to be much better than his disappointing rookie season. But he’s now strung together a couple of really solid performances, including last week’s record-breaking performance that earned him NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors.
But the downfall of the Bears has been their defense, which has kept them out of the win column most weeks, and a couple of big trades aren’t going to help that side of the ball going forward.
So how do the Detroit Lions match up against their NFC North foes? Can they pick up their first road win of the season? Let’s take a closer look in our Week 10 scouting report.
2022 Chicago Bears
2022 season thus far (3-6)
Week 1: Beat 49ers, 19-10
Week 2: Lost to Packers, 10-27
Week 3: Beat Texans, 23-20
Week 4: Lost to Giants, 12-20
Week 5: Lost to Vikings, 22-29
Week 6: Lost to Commanders, 7-12
Week 7: Beat Patriots, 33-14
Week 8: Lost to Cowboys, 29-49
Week 9: Lost to Dolphins, 32-35
- 21st in points scored (20.8 PPG), 21st in points allowed (24.0 PPG)
- 28th in overall DVOA
- 23rd in offensive DVOA (27th in pass DVOA, 15th in run DVOA)
- 31st in defensive DVOA (30th in pass DVOA, 28th in run DVOA)
The Bears’ offense may not rank that highly overall right now in most categories, but they’ve had to overcome a really slow start. After six weeks, the Bears offense ranked 30th in DVOA (31st in pass, 22nd in run).
Let’s look at some splits between the first six games and the last three:
Justin Fields passing
- First 6 games: 63-of-115 (54.8%), 869 yards (7.6 Y/A), 4 TDs, 5 INT, 72.7 passer rating
- Last 3 games: 47-of-72 (65.3%), 453 yards (6.3 Y/A), 6 TDs, 1 INT, 104.7 passer rating
Justin Fields rushing
- First 6 games: 54 rushes, 282 yards (5.2 YPC), 1 TD
- Last 3 games: 37 rushes, 320 yards (8.65 YPC), 3 TDs
Points per game:
- First 6 games: 15.5
- Last 3 games: 31.3
Just look at these last three performances in the run game.
vs. Patriots: 45 rushes, 243 yards (5.4 YPC), 2 TDs
vs. Cowboys: 43 rushes, 240 yards (5.6 YPC), 2 TDs
vs. Dolphins; 40 rushes, 252 yards (6.3 YPC), 1 TD
Average over 3 games: 245 rushing yards per game and 5.7 YPC
Here’s the thing: very little of the Bears’ improvement can be attributed to strength of opponent. The Dolphins and Cowboys both boast top-10 run defenses (by DVOA). This improvement looks legit.
Of course, the other side of this is that the Bears defense is awful and is getting worse. After six weeks, they ranked 19th in overall defensive DVOA (14th vs. pass; 27th vs. run). They have now plummeted to bottom five in each category.
Here are some eye-popping statistics from a lowly Bears pass defense:
- 7.6 yards per pass attempt allowed (28th)
- 13 sacks (29th)
- 4.9 yards per carry allowed (26th)
- 0.163 EPA per dropback (30th)
While Chicago’s run defense has been bad all year, their pass defense has taken a particularly bad over the past two weeks: Combined, here are Dak Prescott’s and Tua Tagovailoa’s stat line vs. the Bears: 42-of-57 (73.7%) for 552 yards (9.7 Y/A), 5 TDs, 1 INT
- Traded away EDGE Robert Quinn, LB Roquan Smith
- Traded for WR Chase Claypool
Part of the Bears’ defensive struggles recently are likely due to trading two of their best defensive players. Chicago has lacked much of a pass rush without Quinn in the lineup the past two weeks, and Roquan Smith was the team’s best run defender.
Last week’s trade for Chase Claypool could give some life to the Bears’ slow passing attack, but that may take time. In his debut last week, Claypool did see six targets but turned that into just two catches for 13 yards.
- IR/PUP/NFI: G Lucas Patrick (IR), WR Byron Pringle (IR), WR Tajae Sharpe (IR)
- Other injuries: None
The Bears are a shockingly healthy team heading into Week 10. They’re only missing a couple contributors on offense, but their defense is as close to full health as you could realistically expect this deep into the season. They also recently got left guard Cody Whitehair back from injured reserve, bolstering a better-than-they-look offensive line.
Biggest strength: Rushing attack
Per PFF, the Bears offensive line ranks second in run blocking, while ESPN’s run block win rate ranks them 14th. Either way, even if the Lions can stop the Bears’ decent duo of running backs (David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert), Fields is going to give them a handful. Chicago is really leaning into their quarterback’s mobility as of late, and it has resulted in Fields averaging over 100 yards rushing over the past three games.
This is your reminder that the Lions defense has allowed...
- Jalen Hurts to run for 90 yards
- Carson Wentz to rush for 23 yards
- Geno Smith to rush for 49 yards
- Aaron Rodgers to rush for 40 yards
Biggest weakness: Run defense
I’ve already talked about how bad the Bears run defense is, but here’s something that could really, really matter on Sunday: Chicago ranks 29th in stopping short-yardage situations, allowing a conversion 80 percent of the time (league average is 67%). That has been an area of struggle for the Lions (55% rate), but they could bounce back this week.
Vegas line for Sunday: Bears by 2.5