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Week 17 game preview: Bears-Lions

The Lions were among the hottest teams in the league until last week. Can the Bears play spoiler?

Detroit Lions v Carolina Panthers Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images

Can the Chicago Bears kick off 2023 with a win?

Having lost the last eight games in 2022, it might feel nice to have some good vibes going into the new year.

I can hear the detractors though. The draft nerds. The “BUT WE GOTTA GET THE HIGHEST PICK.”

I get that. But for the three hours the Bears play each Sunday, I am rooting like hell for them to win. When it’s over, that’s when I can maybe sit back and be comforted by the potential of a high draft pick.

But that’s all it is. Potential.

The Detroit Lions, on the other hand, come in fighting for their playoff lives. After getting super hot and winning six of seven games, they lost by two touchdowns to the Carolina Panthers.

Now Justin Fields and company come to town to play spoiler and keep their NFC North rivals out of the postseason.

Detroit Lions

SB Nation site: Pride of Detroit

Record: 7-8, second in the NFC North

Last week: 37-23 loss to Carolina Panthers

Game day, time, TV: Sunday, noon CT, FOX

Spread: According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Lions are 6-point favorites. The total is set at 52 points.

Bears all-time record against: 104-76-5

Historical meetings: In the final week of the 1957 season, the Bears hosted the Lions at Wrigley Field. The Lions were 7-4, the Bears 5-6.

The Bears took a 10-0 lead on a George Blanda field goal and a Bobby Watkins 74-yard TD pass from Ed Brown.

The Lions took the lead back with a touchdown run from Howard Cassady and a Tobin Rote touchdown pass to Dave Middleton.

Another Blanda field goal brought it to 14-13 Detroit but John Henry Johnson salted the game with a two-yard touchdown. Lions win 21-13.

Last meeting: The Bears blew a 24-10 third-quarter lead back in their week 10 meeting.

Jeff Okudah returned a Justin Fields interception for a touchdown, but Fields came right back with a 67-yard touchdown run. Cairo Santos missed the extra point and that ended up being the difference.

Jamaal Williams scored from one yard out with 2:21 to play and the Bears lost 31-30.

Injury report: The Lions listed six players as non-participants Wednesday and had one player limited.


  • OT Kayode Awosika (ankle)

Did not participate

  • S DeShon Elliott (shoulder)
  • FS Kerby Joseph (back)
  • C Frank Ragnow (foot)
  • WR Josh Reynolds (illness)
  • G Logan Stenberg (illness)
  • LB Josh Woods (biceps)

Offense: The Lions come into this week with the fifth-ranked offense in points and fourth-ranked in yards.

Their passing offense ranks eighth and their rushing offense ranks 16th.

Led by Jared Goff (64.5 cmp pct./3,959 yds./26 TD/7 INT), who is playing inspired football. It helps that he’s throwing to Amon-Ra St. Brown (96 rec./1,050 yds./6 TD), Kalif Raymond (40/510/0), Josh Reynolds (36/458/3) and D.J. Chark (25/432/3).

On the ground, Jamaal Williams (224 att./850 yds./14 TD) is doing most of the rushing but D’Andre Swift (82/439/4) has a better YPC and is a little more explosive. Swift (37 rec./289/2) is also third on the team in catches and is clearly the third down back.

Defense: The Lions defense is dead last in the league in both yards and points.

Their pass defense ranks 30th and their rushing defense is 28th.

The defense is led by Aiden Hutchinson (7 sks/2 INT/13 QB hits) and rookie Kerby Joseph (3 INT/5 PD/2 FF/72 tkls). LB Alex Azalone (110 tkls/1.5 sk/6 PD/6 TFL), S DeShon Elliott (91 tkl/3 PD/5 TFL), and CB Jeff Okudah (1 INT/72 tkls/7 PD/1 INT) are also making some plays.

James Houston (5 sk/5 TFL/8 QB hits) has been an effective pass rusher, too.

Key matchups: In the first meeting, the Bears had 258 rushing yards and 408 total yards. their second-highest of the season.

Justin Fields had four total touchdowns, two to Cole Kmet and two rushing, to go with 147 rushing yards. He, David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert are going to be the nightmares for the Lions.

The Lions had been bad against the run all year. Kmet had his highest yardage of the year in the first meeting, as well, so he may find some more room in the secondary. But, the Lions will likely focus on stopping Kmet with Fields’ other receivers so lacking.

On defense, the Bears have to get a pass rush on Goff. When he is comfortable in the pocket and has time to throw, he’s dangerous. How are they going to get pressure? That I don’t know, but blitzing seems to be the only way they can get it this season.

Kyler Gordon will have his hands full with Amon-Ra St. Brown, who had 10 catches for 119 yards in the first meeting.

Key stats

  • The Lions are the second-worst third down defense and the fourth-worst redzone defense. The Bears are worse than them on third down and one spot better in the red zone.
  • The 61 total points scored in the first game was the third most in a Bears game this season. Only the Dolphins game (67) and Cowboys (78) had more total points.
  • The Lions and Bears have both played eight one-score games. The Bears are 1-7 in those games, the Lions are 3-5.
  • The Lions are the third-best redzone offense.
  • Detroit has allowed opposing TEs 10 touchdowns, the most in the league.
  • Opposing QBs have a 97 rating against Detroit, third-best in the league.

Do you want the Bears to play spoiler? Would you like to beat the Lions?