Five Things To Know About Bears vs. Lions
The Detroit Lions’ playoff hopes are not completely on the line when the team faces NFC North rival Chicago Bears today, but there are questions that need answers in the Windy City. And just as Washington played spoiler to Philadelphia on Saturday to help Detroit get to the postseason, the Bears could do the same to help its other rival Green Bay.
SECOND TIME AROUND:
It’s been three years since the Detroit Lions saw a playoff game without calling Ticketmaster. Thanks to the Washington Redskins’ 27-24 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday, the Lions have been guaranteed their second postseason appearance since 1999. Detroit (10-4) getting into the playoffs is no reason for the team to take for granted its 34-17 Thanksgiving win over the Bears (5-9) when the two meet again today at 1 p.m. at Soldier Field.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE …
There’s still plenty more for the Lions to fight for, including a chance for the team to tie a record for a season’s-best 11 wins and opportunity to win the division, which comes with a first-round bye. That depends on Green Bay (10-4), who unlike the Lions, do not have a guaranteed spot in the playoffs, yet. Similar to the circumstances surrounding Detroit’s playoffs hopes, Philadelphia had to lose, but now Dallas must beat Indianapolis in order for the Packers to advance to the post season . Long story, short: Detroit can take the division outright if Green Bay loses today (which is not likely against a weak 2-12 NFC South squad) and if they beat the Bears. If not, the two will have to battle it out in the last game of the regular season.
CHICAGO’S SECONDARY WILL BE A PRIMARY FACTOR (OR NOT SO MUCH)
The Bears’ ailing secondary, with the league’s second-worst pass defense this season and allowing 409 points and more than 200 first downs, faces a Lions’ receiving corps that ranks 10th in the league with an average of 20.1 points per game and receptions averaging just short of 12 yards per toss. Aside from the obvious - Calvin Johnson – the Bears’ secondary is also going to have to ponder how to defend Golden Tate, a feat that will need the help of standout rookie cornerback Kyle Fuller. And while it’s highly unlikely Fuller will have to play opposite Lions’ wideout and older brother Corey Fuller, it is highly likely Kyle’s pro inexperience will get exploited as it did during the two teams’ Thanksgiving meeting when Megatron caught 11 passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns. His rookie inexperience was further exposed in Week 14 when the Bears played Dallas and Kyle was given a clinic in the Cowboys’ 41-28 win and subsequently, in Week 15, in the Bears’ embarrassing 31-15 loss to New Orleans.
1K FOR FORTE?
Possibly. Matt Forte was the first player in franchise history to rush more than 900 yards in his first six years. The seven-year veteran has 932 rushing yards this season, but only had five carries for six yards against the Lions in the Thanksgiving meeting. Some food for thought is in his previous December games opposite the Lions, Forte rushed a combined 42 times for an average of 83.5 yards per game. This is something for Detroit to think about since the team has never defeated the Bears in the month of December since Forte joined the team as a second round pick from Tulane.
CLAUSEN ISN’T THE ANSWER
The recent shakeup of the quarterback position did nothing to help the Bears. Even with Jimmy Clausen, Chicago won’t be able to hurt the Lions via air attack, especially if the defense rattles Clausen on the first snap. When he was drafted by Carolina four years ago, Clausen came in as a rookie and replaced Matt Moore in the second week of the season. Thirty-three sacks, nine fumbles and nine interceptions later, along with 1,558 passing yards, Clausen was benched for a while … three years, to be exact. Fast forward to 2014, with two regular season games remaining, he’s replacing the popular Jay Cutler. He’ll have to outperform Cutler, Stafford, Aaron Rodgers and every other quarterback in the NFC if he wants to win over the hearts of the Bears and its fans. The combined 3-of-9 for 8.1 yards he has this season just won’t cut it.