Lions Key To Victory In Week 11: Stopping Jordan Howard

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A Preview Of The Detroit Lions Week 11 Match Up Against The Chicago Bears.

The Bears 2017 Season Thus Far

The Bears will be the third game in a row where Detroit faces a good overall team that has struggled largely because of poor quarterback play. The Bears are 3-6 headed into this matchup and are currently in the proverbial basement of the NFC North. But this has not been due to bad defensive play or a poor running game. Both areas have typically been strengths for this team. Where the biggest issues lie here is in an anemic passing attack.

The Bears are averaging a mediocre 169 yards per game through the air. Only the Baltimore Ravens have thrown for less yards per game as a team. This is especially concerning for the Bears because they often find themselves behind in their games, so you would expect leaning on the pass more in those situations which would lead to more passing production. Rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky stepped into the starting role starting in early October which helped slow the interception issues for the team that Mike Glennon created earlier in the year. Trubisky only has two on the year in five games.

But the rookie has not righted the ship yet. He only has three touchdowns in those five games and has barely completed above 50% of his passes this season. This is why the Bears have tried to win games with the ground game setting up the pass. The coaching staff understands the bread and butter of the offense is running back Jordan Howard. Their offensive line is great when they do not get in their own way as Chicago has run into penalty issues on the offensive line the past couple of weeks. However, when they get clean blocks in the running game, it is more often than not a good play.

This is why they are the 9th best running attack, in spite of a bad passing attack leading to crowded boxes and having to pass to win from behind. When the offense has looked the best, it has been Howard busting off big chunk runs, setting up the play-action passing game. Unfortunately, often the inefficiencies in the passing attack have been too much to overcome this season and is why they are the 29th worst offense in points per game so far.

Key Matchups To Watch For Sunday At Soldier Field

Jarrad Davis vs Jordan Howard

Lions rookie linebacker Jarrad Davis will have this hands full this week with Bears running back Jordan Howard. Davis has had an up and down season against the run. He has shown quick mental processing and recognition of plays. He has great speed and the motor to fly all over the field against the run. But he has struggled with taking good angles and is working to shed blocks better. As is the case with many rookies, it is still a work in progress. Davis will need to have more discipline and consistency in these areas if he has hopes of stopping Jordan Howard.

That is largely because Howard’s play-style is designed to take advantage of those flaws. He uses his vision very well to set up his blockers and has the patience to wait for them to get there. He has great short area quickness and keeps his hips low through his cuts, making him very hard to take down. The Bears have a really nice run blocking offensive line too, which only helps this Bears running game.

Lions Defensive Line vs Bears Offensive Line

Which brings us to our next matchup. The Lions front line has struggled to maintain gap assignments on inside runs and to maintain edge contain on perimeter runs since the New Orleans Saints game in week six. While A’Shawn Robinson and Anthony Zettel have had good seasons thus far, the unit as a whole has struggled.

Which should be concerning head into a match up where they face a stout Bears front line, their interior line especially. Akeem Spence and Khyri Thornton have had trouble holding ground against stronger interior lineman like Bears center Cody Whitehair and guards Kyle Long and Josh Sitton. If the Lions defensive line is able to stay disciplined and maintain their gap assignments, they will have a very good shot to win this game.

Darius Slay vs Mitchell Trubrisky

Trubisky has been good at not turning the ball over but has made some poor decisions and bad ball placement thus far. While it has not shown up yet, it is very likely these badly placed balls are going to start getting intercepted. Enter Darius Slay.

Darius Slay has turned into the best young player on the Lions roster this season. Outside of Glover Quin, there is not someone of equal talent on this roster. But that is not exclusive to the Lions. Currently, Slay is third in the league in interceptions with four. He has been shadowing more this season than he ever has and has been shutting down opposing wide receivers. Even great receivers like Larry Fitzgerald, Antonio Bryant, Julio Jones, and Michael Thomas have struggled lining up against the Lions star cornerback.

His interceptions have come against great quarterbacks and wide receivers in the NFL. With a rookie who has been struggling the way Trubisky has, Slay is set up for more success in this game. If he can generate a turnover or two, it will be a big help for the Lions victory chances Sunday at Soldier Field.

Prediction: Lions Win 28-17

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