Following Detroit’s 41-25 loss to the Houston Texans last week on Thanksgiving, owner Martha Firestone Ford fired head coach Matt Patricia and team general manager Bob Quinn. Offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell was named interim, and his first task is to defeat the Chicago Bears on the road without two of his defensive starters, Desmond Trufant and Danny Shelton, who hit the IR with severe injuries. The loss to the Texans was especially frustrating as the offense coughed up the football three times, and the defense surrendered big plays in the passing game (318 yards). Adrian Peterson ran for two touchdowns, and Matthew Stafford completed 28 passes for 295 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the losing effort.
The good news for Bevell is Chicago is dealing with struggles of their own. The Bears have lost five consecutive games after an embarrassing 41-25 loss to the Packers. Mitchell Trubisky, who started for injured starter Nick Foles, completed a pair of touchdown passes to Allen Robinson, but Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense picked apart the Bears defense repeatedly. Green Bay held a 27-10 halftime lead, then broke the game open in the third quarter with a pair of touchdowns to put the game out of reach. Trubisky has been named starter for this week as well.
This is the second game between the two division rivals this season. In week one, the Bears scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to overcome a 23-6 deficit and defeat the Lions. All three of those fourth-quarter touchdowns were thrown by Trubisky, who opened the season as a starter.
The big storyline in this one is how much of a bump the Lions will get with the interim coach. Earlier this season, Raheem Morris in Atlanta won convincingly as an underdog in his first game as head coach. Will the Lions feel the same effect? Time will tell, but recent history suggests they might, especially against a team that is struggling like the Bears.
Why Detroit Might Not Look That Much Different With Bevell as InterimPatricia’s firing was no surprise, as the former New England defensive coordinator struggled to develop a winning culture in Detroit. A lot of the blame can be placed on the defense and the offensive line, both of which have failed to live up to expectations throughout recent history. This season, the defense has been giving up an average of 408.5 yards per game while allowing opponents to convert on third down 45.26% of the time. The offensive line has allowed 31 sacks while the rushing attack has sputtered to 96.6 yards per game. Since Bevell was the offensive coordinator, don’t expect there to be much difference schematically on the defense, although they might play with a little more energy. Without two defensive starters, the only good news for the Lions is they are playing a team that is offensively mediocre in the Chicago Bears.
Matthew Stafford is having another decent season, completing 63.2% of his passes for 2876 yards, 18 touchdowns, and eight interceptions. Stafford’s favorite target is tight end TJ Hockenson, who has caught 45 passes for 530 yards and five touchdowns. Marvin Jones, Jr. has caught 43 passes for 503 yards and five scores. Surprisingly, Danny Amendola has failed to catch a touchdown pass despite being the third most targeted receiver.
The Lions have relied on Adrian Peterson (40.4 ypg, 4 TDs) and D’Andre Swift (36.8 ypg, 4 TDs) to lead a rushing attack that averages a meager 96.6 yards per game. The talent is there at running back, but the offensive line has not been able to open holes for the backs, meaning Stafford has had to put the ball in the air in predictable situations, leading to sacks and turnovers. The Lions are -2 in turnover margin this season.
Trubisky Hopes to Repeat Week One Performance and Break Losing StreakThe Chicago Bears’ past formula for success has been predicated on a swarming, physical defense, and an offense that can take advantage of good field position while maintaining possession due to a strong ground game. In 2020, the defense is still there, but issues along the offensive line have caused the Bears' running game to go into hibernation (82.2 ypg, last in the NFL). Chicago running backs average just 1.7 yards before first contact, which is 29th out of 30 teams. The passing attack, despite having a stud receiver in Allen Robinson II (71 catches, 829 yards, 5 TDs), has only averaged 223.3 yards per game.
Speaking of the passing game, Mitchell Trubisky is back this week at starter, filling in for the injured Nick Foles. Trubisky has completed 58.3% of his passing attempts for 802 yards, nine touchdowns, and five picks. Trubisky did lead a comeback against these same Lions in week one, throwing for three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to erase a huge deficit.
Despite the offensive woes, Chicago is favored in this one mainly because of the defense. The Bears are giving up just 357 yards per game, and 20.8 points per game while holding opponents to a 34% conversion rate on third down.
- Chicago: Bears are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games as a home favorite.
- Chicago: Bears are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games as a favorite.