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Pleased to Meet You: Week 13, Detroit Lions

The Bears play the Lions on Thanksgiving day; we're previewing tomorrow's matchup.

Stew Milne-USA TODAY Sports

The Bears spent the last two weeks stuffing themselves on wins from the Vikings and Buccaneers, but gobbling up another win against the Lions on Thanksgiving day puts them at 6-6, and at .500 for the first time since the game against the Falcons. At that point, there's a chance that talking playoffs may not just be talking turkey.

(No, I just can't help the massive cornucopia of puns going on here.)

First, though, is the matter of getting that sixth win, because the Lions are right there in the division hunt.

Last Year: Finished 7-9, good for third place in the NFC North.

This Year: Currently, they're sitting at 7-4, which is good for second in the division behind the 8-3 Packers.

When Last We Met: The last matchup between these two was over a year ago (yes, an eternity in divisional matchups), when the Bears lost to the Lions 21-19 on November 10. The Bears scored a touchdown in the last minute on a Josh McCown to Brandon Marshall connection, but a two-point conversion attempt failed. Marshall and Alshon Jeffery both went over 100 yards (Marshall added two touchdowns); Jay Cutler threw for 250 yards, a touchdown and an interception, and McCown came on in relief to throw for 62 yards and that touchdown.


Offense Defense
Total Points 197 (28th) 190 (1st)
Total Yardage 3,658 (21st) 3,342 (3rd)
Passing Yardage 2,769 (10th) 2,564 (10th)
Rushing Yardage 889 (30th) 778 (1st)

Offense: Calvin Johnson's been injured this year, but one big improvement in the Lions' roster this year is the addition of Golden Tate - the first Lion to reach 1000 receiving yards on the season. Yes, even over Johnson. That being said, it's still an offense that relies on a strong primary target, as beyond Tate and Johnson, the next highest receiver on the team is Jeremy Ross's 239 yards.

That aside, Matthew Stafford's been having a pretty much Matthew Stafford year. The touchdowns haven't really been there, nor has the overall offensive production - 28th in points scored and 21st in overall yardage, which is further supported by the 22nd net yards per pass attempt and 31st in yards per rush attempt. They miss having a healthy and fully-working Calvin Johnson; in 13 career games against the Bears, Johnson averages 10.8 targets and about five receptions for 71.4 yards.

The Lions' rushing attack hasn't been very steady either, as Reggie Bush has missed some time, and while Joique Bell's put up some decent numbers and is a useful player, he's not necessarily a solution.

The offensive line hasn't been the most useful unit for the Lions either, especially coupled with injuries to Larry Warford, Corey Hilliard (on IR), and Riley Reiff. Stafford's been sacked 33 times so far on the year, and picking up 3.3 yards per rush attempt, they aren't getting much push up front in either the run game or in pass protection.

Defense: Raise your hand if you thought at this point the Lions' defense would be higher-ranked than the offense would be, leading the league in points allowed and third overall in yardage. Really, they're getting contributions from all over the defense. Ziggy Ansah has been big for the Lions' pass rush, leading the team with 5.5 sacks; Ndamukong Suh has continued to play at a high level with his own 4.5 sacks. Eleven players have contributed a sack this season, with seven of those contributing two sacks. And that kind of pass rush has manifested into thirteen interceptions and 49 deflected passes.

If the Bears do this: The Bears' defense has been a little stronger lately against two sub-par offensive teams, and the Lions' offense has been in just as odd of a place as the Bears' offense - they haven't scored 30 points in a game since week 1, and are coming off two games without scoring a single touchdown (against the Cardinals and Patriots). The Bears have also gotten a little more pass rush recently; getting a good start and putting the Lions' offense down early could be just the stepping stone they need.

If the Lions do this: The top defense in the league, plus there's that whole Calvin Johnson (and Golden Tate) thing that could pop up at any moment. If the Bears don't get to the quarterback, the Lions could feast on a secondary that has had some weak moments, and is pretty inexperienced to boot (also known as Al Louis-Jean and Demontre Hurst).

Closing Thoughts: Happy Thanksgiving. Pull the wishbone and hope for a win.