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Bears-Lions preview: This is what we get?

Are we really thankful for this game?

Detroit Lions v Cleveland Browns Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

This is a tough week to write this preview.

The Chicago Bears haven’t won since week five, which was over a month ago, and without the hope and excitement that comes with watching Justin Fields play quarterback, what’s in it for this game?

It appears that the Bears might be the only one playing a backup quarterback, but we’ll see for sure come Thursday.

What is good about the Matt Nagy era at this point? Whether you believe the report from Tuesday or not, either this is his last game as coach or it’s likely one of his final seven games. I don’t care how cynical you are as a fan, you don’t really want to take joy in someone losing their job and the upheaval that it causes their family and personal life.

I think that there is very real and valid concern that the Bears are going to be that team that allows the Lions to finally get a notch in the win column. Sure they have their tie, but there’s still a zero in their W column and no team wants to be the one that gives them their first, especially when it’s nearly December.

But how bad are the Lions? Bad enough that DraftKings Sportsbook has the Bears as 3 point favorites on Thanksgiving, on the road. That is an interesting line when you consider that home field advantage in the NFL is -3 for the home team.

Detroit Lions (+3, O/U 41.5)

SB Nation site: Pride of Detroit

Record: 0-9-1

Last week: 13-10 loss to the Cleveland Browns

Game day, time, TV: Thursday, 11:30 a.m. CT, FOX

Bears all-time record against: 103-75-5

Historical meetings: Way back on Nov. 28, 1935 the Bears and Lions met for the first time on Thanksgiving.

The Bears came in to the game 5-3-1 while Detroit was 5-3-2.

Dutch Clark of the Lions threw a touchdown in the first quarter and then added a 22-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter.

All the Bears could muster was a safety in the second quarter as they lost 14-2.

Last meeting: Back in week 4 the Bears beat the Lions 24-14.

David Montgomery scored twice and Darnell Mooney had 125 yards.

Injury report: The Lions listed eight players on their Tuesday estimated injury report (Reminder: they don’t actually practice on short weeks)

No participation: OLB Trey Flowers (knee), T Matt Nelson (ankle), G Halapoulivaati Vaitai (concussion), WR Trinity Benson (knee), CB A.J. Parker (ankle)

Limited: QB Jared Goff (oblique), RB Jermar Jefferson (knee/ankle), DE Michael Brockers (knee)

Offense: The Lions rank 30th in points and 27th in yards.

They rank 30th in passing yards and 16th in rushing yards.

Signs now point to Jared Goff (66.1 pct cmp/2,109 yds/8 TD/6 INT) returning from his oblique injury to start, but if something were to change, they’ll turn back to Tim Boyle (65.1 pct cmp/77 yds/0 TD/2 INT).

The Lions’ weapons are TE T.J. Hockenson (54 rec/499 yds/2 TD), RB D’Andre Swift (53/420/2), WR Amon-Ra St. Brown (35/329/0) and Kalif Raymond (30/363/2).

The rushing game has been where Detroit has leaned where the players’ names are a little more recognizable. Led by Swift (137 att/555 yds/4 TD) and Jamaal Williams (78/323/2).

Last week the Lions ran a perfectly balanced game plan with 23 rushes and 23 passing attempts.

Defense: The Lions defense is a mirror of their offense: they rank 30th in points and 27th in yards allowed.

They rank 31st in rushing defense and 13th in passing defense.

There is disparity in how teams are attacking the Lions. Opponents have the most rushing attempts against the Lions and the fewest passing attempts.

Competent offensive coaching would say that you need to attack an opponents weakness, so clearly relying on the ground game is the key here.

The Lions defense features OLB Charles Harris (4 sk/4 TFL/1 FF), Trey Flowers (1.5 sk/4 TFL/4 QB hits/1 FF), LB Alex Anzalone (64 tkl/1 sk/3 PD/1 INT), S Tracy Walker (61 tkl/1 sk/4 PD/3 TFL) and Amani Oruwarive (4 INT/7 PD/41 tkl).

Key match ups: The Bears are banged up, they have a lot of guys missing, this is pretty clearly a win-at-all-costs game. The Bears have to get David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert going in the run game and lean on them.

Andy Dalton is fine, honestly this is the best I’ve felt about a Bears quarterback coming off the bench since Josh McCown.

Dalton can manage things but we know he isn’t going to be able to dig them out of a hole or do more than just manage things. Make the running backs be the offense.

On defense, use the playmakers you have left, namely Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith and get after Goff. The Bears have had success against Goff and now isn’t the time to let him change that narrative. The Lions really don’t have many great receivers, so it’s more about containing T.J. Hockenson and D’Andre Swift. If they can pressure Goff he will throw interceptions, take away any of his safety valves and the defense can make this easy for themselves.

Key stats

  • The Lions rank dead last in red zone defense, The Bears just faced the number one red zone defense against the Ravens.
  • D’Andre Swift is coming off two straight games with at least 130 rushing yards.
  • The Bears haven’t had a 100-yard rusher since Khalil Herbert did it against the Buccaneers in week 7
  • The Bears have won three straight Thanksgiving games going back to 2015; The Lions twice (2018 and 2019) and the Packers (2015)
  • The Lions haven’t won on Thanksgiving since 2016 against the Vikings
  • The last game that the Lions won was against the Bears on Dec. 6, 2020. If they lose to Chicago their next game will be on Dec. 5, 364 days since their last victory.
  • Chicago last won on Oct. 10, which will be 45 days by the time we get to kick off Thursday morning

Will the Bears end up being Detroit’s first win of the season? Do you think Andy Dalton can lead the Bears to a holiday victory?