The NFL season has past its halfway point, and while we may have a good idea on who the true contenders to hoist the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the season are, we still have just as many questions as we do answers about a lot of teams in the NFL. Two of those teams? The Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears. What better time to preview a game than a rivalry game featuring my favorite team ever (hopefully everyone reading this knows it’s the Lions by now) and one of my least favorite teams ever, the Chicago Bears. Regardless of my undying Lions fandom, I promise to stay as unbiased as possible for this preview. Maybe.
This is the most important game of the season thus far for both teams. A loss here for either the Lions or Bears sends them officially to #DraftSZN. This game is the dictionary definition of strength vs strength and weakness vs weakness. Let’s get into it.
Lions Offense vs. Bears Defense
Let’s start off with the strengths. Who would keep reading this if I came out negative?
The Detroit Lions offense, carried mostly by the passing offense, has been on fire this season. Everyone will point to QB Matthew Stafford as the main catalyst behind the Lions’ third-ranked passing offense in the entire NFL, and for good reason. Despite a few errant throws in critical situations in the tough road loss to the Oakland Raiders last week, Stafford has been playing the best football of his career since his 5,000 yard 2011 season. However, people need to stop sleeping on the weapons that Bob Quinn has put around Stafford. Danny Amendola has been a pleasant surprise as a slot receiver this season and looked to be one of Stafford’s favorite targets in some games so far, and rookie TJ Hockenson has shown flashes that make him seem like he’ll be well worth the 8th overall pick in the draft in a few years.
But on the outside, the Lions have a dangerous, dangerous duo of WRs Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones Jr., who will need to play great games to challenge a Bears defense that has allowed the second-fewest passing yards in the NFL this season. The stout Bears defense is obviously anchored by one of the best players in the NFL, pass rusher and linebacker Khalil Mack. Mack hasn’t set the world on fire quite like he did last year, but he still has 5.5 sacks and is well on his way to another good season. He also absolutely demolished Lions Offensive Tackle Taylor Decker at Soldier Field in this game last year, so pass protection is a necessity this week. The Bears secondary features Cornerback Kyle Fuller and Safety Eddie Jackson, who has led the league in interceptions since he was drafted in 2017. Kenny Golladay is tied for first in the league in receiving TDs with 7. Marvin Jones Jr. is tied for second in the league with 6 TDs. Something has to give here. I can’t wait to see if Stafford can air it out and challenge the elite Bears pass defense.
Bears Offense vs. Lions Defense
Weakness. Versus. Weakness.
After going 12-4 in 2018, the Bears’ 3-5 start has made them the biggest disappointment in the league so far this year. That ain’t the defense’s fault. Oh, whose fault is it, you ask? Just someone that I have said would be a bust from the day he was drafted in 2017.
The “young” Bears QB (he’s 25, he really isn’t that young anymore in NFL terms) didn’t fool me with his inefficient 3,200 passing yard season in 2018. I’ve long been a #TrubiskyTruther, and after his performance so far this season, I think everyone else is, too. Trubisky’s passer rating of 80.0 is 30th in the NFL. There are 32 QBs in the NFL. He has consistently missed receivers all season, and has a measly 5 touchdown passes in 7 games played. He was drafted to be a dual threat in the running game, as well… but has 43 rushing yards on the SEASON.
However, if there’s ever a day for Trubisky to right the ship, it’ll be against the porous Lions defense. The Lions have allowed the fifth-most passing yards to opposing QBs this season, and are coming off a game where an average-to-solid Raiders offense moved the ball at will both on the ground and through the air. The Lions’ pass rush needs to step up big here. Trubisky sucks when he has all the time in the world to throw, but he won’t even be able to stare down the first receiver and throw it at his feet if defensive linemen like Trey Flowers finally become a consistent force and make fans stop regretting the $90 million dollar deal Quinn and Patricia gave him over the offseason. Do I think the pass rush finally shows up? No. The Lions are ranked 26th in sacks in the NFL. Trubisky may finally be able to air it out a little bit this game.
Prater or Piniero? I’ll let you guys answer that one.