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Game Preview: Bears-Lions

Will a struggling defense help any of the Bears’ offensive woes?

Detroit Lions v Oakland Raiders Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The best medicine for a struggling offense is a struggling defense, right?

Allegedly, but would anyone really trust the Bears offense to be able to score on a pee-wee team right now?

Every press conference with Mitch Trubisky and Matt Nagy is being broken down, overanalyzed and completely roasted.

Things are not good in Bearsland. However, the Lions are coming to town and while they are ahead of the Bears in the official standings, it’s only just by a half a game and the Lions are in usual Lions shape.

That is to say, they’re middling. They’re not awful, but they aren’t blowing teams away. Like the Bears, they’ve lost to the Raiders and Packers, but unlike Chicago they’ve defeated the Chargers and Eagles.

So this might be a match up of even teams, at the least. Although, the Lions offense is light-years ahead of the Bears, but their defense is the side of the ball giving them trouble.

Perhaps then it will be an even fight between a good defense vs. a good offense and a bad offense vs. a bad defense?

Detroit Lions

SB Nation site: Pride of Detroit

Record: 3-4-1 (third NFC North)

Last week: 31-24 loss to Raiders

Bears all-time record against: 99-74-5

Historical match ups: The Bears and Lions have met three times on Nov. 10, the date of Sunday’s match up, but have won only one of those previous three.

On Nov. 10, 1985, also week 10, the Bears met the Lions at Soldier Field.

Steve Fuller filled in for the injured Jim McMahon, threw 13 passes, hitting on just seven. Compared to 55 team rushing attempts (including five for Fuller). Both Walter Payton (26) and Matt Suhey (16) went over 100 yards, while Fuller ran in for two scores and Calvin Thomas rushed for another.

The vicious defense sacked Lions quarterback Eric Hipple four times and the Bears won 17-3.

Last meeting: On Thanksgiving Day, the Bears went up to Detroit on the shortest possible turnaround and, with their back up quarterback, beat the Lions 23-16.

Eddie Jackson sealed the win with a pick 6 and the iconic Motown tribute celebration.

Injury report: The Lions listed 13 players on their Wednesday injury report.

Full participation: CB Darius Slay (hamstring), CB Amani Oruwariye (knee), TE Jesse James (back), DT Damon Harrison (groin), WR Danny Amendola (hand)

Limited: QB Matthew Stafford (back/hip), DT A’Shawn Robinson (ankle), OL Graham Glasgow (back) and DT Mike Daniels (foot)

Did not participate: DB Tracy Walker (knee), P Sam Martin (abdomen), DL Da’Shawn Hand (ankle), G Joe Dahl (ankle)

Offense: The Lions come into the game ranked fifth in yards and 12th in points.

Their passing offense is third in yards, while their rushing attack is 21st.

Led by the veteran Matthew Stafford (64.3 cmp. pct./2,499 yds./19 TD/5 INT) is playing some of the best football of his career throwing to receivers Kenny Golladay (35 rec./640 yds./7 TD), Marvin Jones (42/535/6) and Danny Amendola (31/376/1).

Rookie TE T.J. Hockenson (22/296/2) is also contributing.

Since losing starting RB Kerryon Johnson, Ty Johnson (39 att./137 yds./0 TD) and J.D. Missic (20/140/0) have taken over duties.

Defense: The Lions defense ranks 31st in yards allowed and 27th in points allowed.

Their passing defense ranks 30th in yards allowed and their rushing defense ranks 27th in yards.

Their top defenders are DE Trey Flowers (4 sacks/2 FF/4 TFL/8 QB hits), Damon Harrison (2 sacks/3 PD/2 TFL/2 QB hits), CB Darius Slay (1 INT/3 PD), CB Tracy Walker (1 INT/5 PD/5 TFL/56 tkls) and former Bear LB Christian Jones (39 tkls/2 sacks/1 FR/4 PD).

Other defenders include Justin Coleman (1 INT/2 FF/1 FR), LB Jarrad Davis (2 FF/2 TFL/1 sack) and DT A’Shawn Robinson (0.5 sack/2 TFL/1 QB hit/2 FR).

The Lions’ defensive coordinator, Paul Pasqualoni, was the defensive line coach in Chicago in 2014 under Mel Tucker.

The Lions defense ranks 30th in third down defense, with opponents converting 48.1 percent of their attempts.

What to watch for: Can the Bears defense get after Matt Stafford and force him into mistakes? There is a lot of big pass play potential on the Lions’ offense with Golladay, Jones and preseason Bear Marvin Hall (who is averaging 40 yards per catch!). The Lions have the ninth most passing attempts and pass on 56 percent of their plays, so they want to throw and throw often.

Will this bad defense give the Bears a chance to get right? Or at least get things going? They’re allowing 6.1 yards per play to opponents and 4.7 yards per rush. They haven’t surrendered less than 370 yards to an opponent all season and haven’t allowed less than 20 points since week two.

Key match ups: Kenny Golladay against the Bears secondary. Golladay is Stafford’s favorite big-play receiver and if the Bears can slow him down, it will get their passing game out of rhythm.

Stafford has only been sacked 18 times, despite having the ninth-most passing attempts in the league, so the Bears pass rush has to get back on track and get after him. He will turn the ball over if he’s not comfortable in the pocket.

Key stats: The Bears have surpassed 300 yards of offense just once this season, the Lions have held none of their opponents to fewer than 350 yards of offense.

The Lions have allowed the most first downs in the league, 196, while the Bears have just 139 on the season.

Detroit can take the ball away, they have 12 takeaways as a defense, one more than the Bears have.

The Lions rank 12th in yards per drive on offense, averaging 2.16 points per drive. Chicago is allowing 1.61 YPD, sixth best in the league.

Lions opponents are scoring touchdowns on 60.6 percent of their red zone trips, the Bears offense is scoring on 57.1 percent.

Stafford has thrown an interception in three straight games, but has only one multi-interception game this season, in their week 2 win over the Chargers. Last year two of his three multi-interception games came against Chicago.

Can the Bears find the endzone against a nearly equally inept defense to their own offense? What do the Bears need to do to win?