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Bold prediction of the week: Fields bends, doesn’t break Lions defense

It’s nearly impossible to completely contain Justin Fields, but the Detroit Lions could limit the damage in Week 17.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

The last time these two teams met, the Detroit Lions turned a corner in the middle of an initially disastrous game. Their come-from-behind victory would eventually turn into Game 2 of a 6-1 hot streak. It was a comeback uncharacteristic of the Lions team we had seen leading up to that point, and a shocker considering the performance by the Chicago Bears. It was the Justin Fields show all day long, as has been the case for much of the Bears’ season. Fields finished the day with four touchdowns, two passing and two rushing. Sunday, the Lions will need to contain Fields to take care of business against Chicago.

Bold prediction of the week: Lions hold Justin Fields to one total touchdown

The Chicago Bears’ offense starts and ends with Fields, and that has been especially evident as of late. The Lions would be pulling off a feat that only two teams have done since Week 6.

Containing Fields to such a limited performance will take a stark contrast from the defensive effort we saw from the Lions last week against Carolina. The defense lacked gap integrity, missed on tackles, and overall looked like they simply weren’t putting in effort. Those were all the things the Lions were doing well during their hot streak, so getting back to that has been an emphasis this week.

Against a Bears team that is a rush-first offense, that gap integrity is a must if the Lions want to have any success. If they can slow down the Bears’ running backs, they can force the Bears into long second and third downs, forcing Fields into obvious passing situations. Then, of course, there’s the prospect of Fields beating you on read option. If Sam Darnold made the Lions look silly, it scares me what Fields can do. Detroit will have to prepare thoroughly for that on defense ahead of Sunday.

Then comes the task of sure tackling, which is much easier said than done against one of the league’s most elusive quarterbacks. The Lions will likely be playing a contain scheme with their edge rushers in those passing situations to keep Fields trapped in the pocket and bring pressure up the middle. If they can stick to their assignments, then Fields won’t have as productive of a day scrambling. That’s where a lot of his production on the ground comes, and the Lions got burned by it in Week 11. So it should be fresh in their minds.

At the end of the day, no schematic preparation will stop Justin Fields if the Lions don’t step up the effort considerably from last week. The first line of defense will have to pitch in to make sure the Lions aren’t asking too much of their secondary again, especially Ifeatu Melifonwu, who’s poised to see lots of game action again. It’s a tall task to see them turning it around so fast compared to the game against Carolina, but it’s certainly not impossible. If the defense can do their jobs then Fields will be contained considerably, and holding him to one (or less) touchdown is a sure recipe for success.

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After winning their first NFC North title in 30 years, the Lions have unfinished business this offseason. Stay updated with Jeremy Reisman through Pride of Detroit Direct, our newsletter offering up exclusive analysis. Sign up with NFCNORTH30 to get 30% off after your free trial.