Detroit Will Need To Be More Than Lucky To Win On Saturday.
Despite their 4-9 record, the Chicago Bears are no pushover. The Detroit Lions struggled to defeat them back in week 11, winning on a missed field goal by Connor Barth. The team limped out of the gates down by 10, but a fumble recovery for a touchdown by cornerback D.J. Hayden gave life to the Lions and they would eventually get the win.
This time around, things are a little bit different. In the month apart from their last matchup, Detroit is now hosting the game, Chicago is more healthy, while Detroit can’t find a way to avoid the doctor’s office. The Lions will have to play better if they expect to sweep Chicago again this season. The Lions are do-or-die and the last thing they want is to die on their own turf in front of their fans.
The Offensive Line Will Be Pushed To Its Limits
One of the biggest differences in the past month for both teams is the health of the Lions offensive line, and the added pressure on the Chicago Bears front seven. Detroit will be without starting right tackle Rick Wagner and center Travis Swanson, while starting left guard T.J. Lang is questionable. Along with that, linebacker Danny Trevathan is back and his presence on the field is impactful.
— Pride of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) November 17, 2017
The Lions running game is the worst in the NFL, with 992 yards, and Trevathan returning will only make rushing the ball harder. Detroit only rushed for 65 yards in their last matchup with Chicago, but with a returning Trevathan and a weaker offensive line, expectations for the running game to work will continue to fall flat.
Defensive Line And Company Have To Improve At Stopping Jordan Howard
Last time these two teams fought, running back Jordan Howard had his way with the Lions defense. He was able to get 125 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. One of the biggest changes since the last game was the addition to the Detroit defensive line was the defensive end, Dwight Freeney. Freeney hasn’t done anything with his time in Detroit though, never recording a sack or a tackle.
Freeney will have to step up when the team needs him, and he won’t be alone. Defensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson, Ziggy Ansah, and Anthony Zettel all have to do better at stopping Howard. The Bears do well when the ground game is working with Howard and other running back Tarik Cohen. If Detroit can stop them both, the Bears offense becomes one-dimensional and easy to stop with rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
Chicago was able to drop 33 points against the Bengals last week and the 232 yards and three rushing touchdowns had to be the major point of success. It won’t be easy for Detroit to stop the Bears from running the ball well, but with a home crowd, it could give them some help.
Turnovers Have To Be Limited To The Detroit Lions
Giving the opposing team extra chances to score is never good and in most scenarios, it ends with a loss. Last week in Tampa Bay, Detroit had three turnovers with two being interceptions and one fumble, but luckily Tampa Bay had the same issues with five turnovers.
Detroit fumbled once last time against Chicago and it could have cost the team the game. Detroit needs to be able to force turnovers if they want to take an advantage against this young Chicago Bears team. Star cornerback Darius Slay and safety Glover Quin will need to step up and create some plays for the defense.
If starting quarterback Matt Stafford turns the ball over like he did against Tampa Bay last week, then Detroit won’t have a chance to win this game. The few mistakes Stafford had last week were flat out dumb decisions. It wasn’t a tipped pass or a good play by a defender, they were just horrible decisions by the quarterback, and Stafford is better than that.
Turnovers will be the key to victory here. Detroit is going to need to force one or two if they want to win this game. Stopping Howard will be tough and Detroit will struggle with him again. Detroit won’t be able to run the ball again even with running back Ameer Abdullah returning.
Detroit could very well slip up here as the playoff door shuts. Luckily they have the better quarterback and that will be the difference.
Detroit gets by again 21-17.
For an in-depth game review, check out Zac’s article here.