I’m still reeling from the thriller in Los Angeles last Sunday, but I hope the Detroit Lions aren’t. They’ve got more business on their hands with the Chicago Bears coming to town on Sunday. The Bears have made headlines with the emergence of rookie quarterback Tyson Bagent in recent weeks, but incumbent Justin Fields remains QB1 in Chicago and is slated to reclaim that spot this week as he returns from injury.
Bold prediction of the week: Justin Fields rushes for season-high 60+ yards against Lions defense
As much as I’d love to make it so, not all bold predictions can be in favor of the Lions. They don’t match up well against Justin Fields this week, and it seems to be going under the radar. Don’t get me wrong, the Lions secondary will keep Fields in check—it’s the ground game that I’m worried about.
It has been painfully evident in recent weeks that the Lions are still in need of help with their pass rush. Aidan Hutchinson can flush quarterbacks out of the pocket all he wants, but rarely does he have someone to help clean up the job. That usually leads to throwaways instead of sacks. Against Fields, that will lead to runs.
It’s the same problem the Lions had last year. In the Lions’ two games against the Bears in 2022, Justin Fields ran for a total of 279 yards. And before you say Bruce Irvin will fix that, he was not called up from the practice squad this week. He won’t play.
This year, Fields has not been running the ball at the same rate he was last year. However, if there ever was a time for him to get back to it, it’ll be this week. Not only is the matchup favorable for him against a Lions defensive line that struggles to contain quarterbacks, but he’s just returning from a month-long absence due to injury.
Although he has been practicing with the team all week, chances are his chemistry with receivers won’t be what it was before his injury, and he may have some rust. Combine that with legs like Fields has, and you can see where this is going. For what it’s worth, too, Fields’ injury was a thumb injury—he surely hasn’t lost his physical fitness in that time. If he faces any lingering discomfort, it would only compel him to run more.
The Lions are doing what they can on defense. The secondary is getting hot at the right time, with Kerby Joseph turning back into a turnover machine and Jerry Jacobs playing some of the best ball of his career. Alex Anzalone has been a shut-down linebacker in coverage. All of that will keep the ball out of receivers’ hands, but the buck stops with the defensive line and their ability to keep Fields contained Sunday. The way I see it, that last part may not happen.