By The Numbers: Detroit Lions vs. Chicago Bears

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Ash Thompson Tells You Things That You Would Already Know If You Looked At The Numbers.


The Detroit Lions have the number 15 overall offense and face the Chicago Bears number nine overall defense. On a per-play basis, the Lions offense is number 17 in yards gained, while the Bears defense is number 10. The Lions defense is ranked number 22 overall while the Bears offense is ranked number 29.

On a per-play basis, the Lions defense is ranked number nine, and the Bears offense is ranked number 27.  It would appear that the Lions offense and Bears offense both might have trouble moving the ball. A low scoring game where the Lions slowly take advantage of a field position imbalance to win is the likely result.

Now that the article is over let me tell you about the English Elizabethan reformation. What is that I am hearing from our editors? O.K. I suppose I could dig a little deeper than that.

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The Lions Offense Passing

The Lions offense rank as number nine in the NFL in passing yardage per play. Their opponents, the Bears defense, are number ten in passing yardage allowed per game. This looks like the classic strength vs. strength matchup. Looks, however, can be deceiving. The Lions passing offense ranks number 10 in yards gained per play in the air, which is right in line with their ranking per game. The Bears defense ranks number 18 in yards allowed per passing play, an eight-spot drop. The Bears are 27th in the NFL in passing attempts against, which giver their overall ranking a boost they do not deserve. This is common among teams with a poor record.

The Bears defense has given up the 18th best QB rating in the NFL but is seventh in sacks. They are, however, 28th in the NFL in interceptions despite that furious pass rush. The Lions offense has the seventh fewest interceptions in the NFL, despite their 27th rank in sacks allowed. The Lions have the eighth best rating in the league. The conclusion to draw here is that the Lions will be able to move the ball in the air fairly efficiently. Look for Eric Ebron and Darren Fells to be open in chain moving and red zone situations.

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The Lions Offense Rushing

Running the ball the Lions are among the NFL’s worst teams despite their relative success last week. The Lions have the number 29 rushing offense in yards per game and are the number 30 team in yards per carry. They face a Bears defense that is number 15 in rushing yards allowed per game, and eighth in yards allowed per rush. That number fifteen ranking is more legitimate than the lofty pass ranking. The Bears have faced the eleventh most rushing attempts in the NFL.

In the Red zone, the Lions are the number 20 team in rushing touchdowns and the Bears defense are number 22. So while the Lions are not likely to find a lot of luck moving the ball up and down the field with the running game, they may be able to reverse their course in the red zone. The Bears are seventeenth in forced fumbles and the Lions have the tenth fewest, making rushing attempts a relatively low risk, but in all probably low reward affair.

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The Lions Defense vs. the Pass

The Lions are the number 25 team in the NFL in passing yards allowed, and number 20 in yards allowed per attempt. Luckily this week they face a Bears offense that is number 31 in passing yardage per game and number 25 per attempt. The Lions defense is number 7 in passing touchdowns allowed and third in the NFL in interceptions. The Bears passing offense is number 28 in passing touchdowns and number 12 in interceptions thrown.

That interception number is tempting to write off because the Bears have thrown fewer passes than any team in the NFL, but Mitchell Trubisky has thrown fewer interceptions than veterans Matt Moore, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brock Osweiller. All of those players have thrown fewer passes than the Bears rookie quarterback. Trubisky has also thrown interceptions at just over half the frequency of his predecessor Mike Glennon.

With that said, the rookie is completing only 51.3% of his passes, and the Bears do not have a wide receiver on their roster that would dress on game day for the Lions. The only danger to the Lions is rookie Adam Shaheen. He is an athletic phenom that could very easily exploit the Lions outside linebackers if they are not careful. The Bears offense have also had some success with Tarik Cohen out of the backfield, but have gone away from the electric rookie in recent weeks.

The Bears have the NFL’s number 27 passer rating as a team and have given up the 19th most sacks despite almost never throwing the ball. The Lions defense is number 18 in sacks and should be able to get to the quarterback when called upon to do so. Mitchell Trubisky should see some time on his back.

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The Lions Defense vs. the Run

The Lions defense is tenth in rushing yards allowed per game, and thirteenth per attempt. The Bears offense are the seventh best in rushing yards per game and are number 12 in yards per attempt. That is despite having such an awful passing offense, the Bears are a legitimate threat along the ground. The Lions have had some issues bottling up the opposition’s running backs at times this season, but should be setting up a lot of eight-man boxes for the Bears to run into. The Lions are coming off a game where they gave up 201 rushing yards to a very similar Cleveland Browns team. The Bears offensive line is not as good as the Browns, but their running backs are better. This is the biggest area of concern for the Lions defense.

Drive Statistics and Predictions.

The Lions offense is number 18 in yards per drive, the Bears defense ranks number 14. The Lions defense is number 18 in yards allowed per drive and the Bears offense 30th. As far as scoring goes the Lions offense outranks the Bears defense slightly 12-13 in points per drive. The Lions defense holds a much larger advantage over the Bears offense, 12-31. They have advantages in turnovers per drive on both offense and defense, 14-20 and 2-28 respectively as well. The Lions have had the third best starting field position and given up the 10th worst to their opponents. The Bears have had the number 18 starting field position. They have given up the number 27 starting field position to their opponents.

So, what does all that mean? The Lions have won seven of their last eight games against the Bears and are hoping to make it eight of nine. It would appear that the Lions offense and Bears offense both might have trouble moving the ball. A low scoring game where the Lions slowly take advantage of a field position imbalance to win is the likely result. Now that the article is over let me tell you about the English Elizabethan reformation. What is that I am hearing from our editors? Oh right, this is where I leave you.

You can find Ash Thompson on twitter @a5hcrack. He also lurks around Reddit in the Lions’ subreddit.

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About the Author

Ash Thompson

Ash Thompson is a fanatical football fan, and less fanatical hockey fan despite his Canadian heritage. He is sorry aboot that. His spirit animal is a beaver with a shark’s head. He is also known as /u/a5hcrack on reddit, and can be found on twitter @a5hcrack