I have seen a lot of "Devin Hester ready for breakout against the Lions" headlines this week, the gist being that Hester has not had a return touchdown since the second Lions game last year and because this year's Lions team has given up a lot of special teams touchdowns, that this will be the week Hester gets his mojo back in the return game.
Frankly, after about the third or fourth article, I thought "these guys are just searching for an easy filler article for the bye week, Hester is no more likely to break one against Detroit than most other teams." But then I decided rather than just think that, why not actually look at the numbers and see if, in fact, he could be statistically likely to bust one on Monday?
The answer is yes, he is.
Devin Hester, the greatest returner in the history of professional football, has seven total TDs on Monday Night Football and they break down as so: two receiving, two kick returns and three punt returns. That would say that he has one touchdown every 1.28 Monday night games he plays.
Now compare that to his performance on Sundays: 21 touchdowns in 89 career games: one TD every 4.24 games. Now yes, there are more games on Sundays than Mondays and returns (or any other touchdown) can be hard to come by, but clearly Hester shows up in prime time.
Hester has already played in one Monday Night Game this year, against Dallas, and he had a receiving touchdown but returned only one punt for eight yards and two kicks for 50 yards. So if 1.28 games is his statistical average, he would then be due for one this week. Specifically, in the second quarter (but we'll enjoy it regardless of which quarter).
Now consider his home/road splits: He has 14 touchdowns each on the road and at home, but he has nine punt return TDs at home and two kick returns vs. three each on the road. So he is statistically more likely to return a punt for a TD at home, and on a Monday night, than any other time.
Hester's history versus Detroit isn't spectacular, especially when compared to a team like the Vikings, who he has torched for eight total TDs, including three punt returns. But against the Lions Hester does have one kick and one punt return TD and his second-highest reception and yards total against them (21 rec for 257 yds, second to Vikings; 23 for 384).
It looks like Hester very well could find his way in the return game into the endzone against Detroit, as well as being a factor in the receiving game, which the Bears will need since they will be without Alshon Jeffery.
Now would be a great time for the Devin Hester to get back on the return horse, as well as a great time for Mike Tice to dig into the playbook and bust out some of that Devin Hester package we've heard so much about but that Tice himself said they haven't used much of.
Look for Hester to have a big game Monday night and if he does, it will go a long way in helping the team win.