Five things to watch: Bears at Lions

Detroit News

Ready or not, it’s time for more Detroit Lions football.

Generally, we get six whole days to get off the mat before another beatdown of what little life still exists in our Honolulu blue hearts.

But this one feels a little sudden.

It figures to be a surreal scene downtown on Thursday, as the punchless Chicago Bears provide Dan Campbell with a real shot of getting his first victory.

And with Houston getting its second win over the weekend, even the most jaded fan can hope he gets it.

Nobody deserves two winless seasons, especially a good franchise soldier who already endured one from his Detroit playing days.

Can you imagine being the man who played on one winless Lions team and coached the team through another?

Although I guess it’s worse that many of us choose to watch this team every week. And no one is paying us handsomely to do it.

Here are five things to watch as the Lions prepare to host the Bears (12:30 p.m., Fox, 97.1):

►1. Tracy’s time: Tracy Walker has quietly been the best player on the defense this season. While that’s a bit like being the smartest kid at (insert your rival school here), it ain’t nothing. I’ve long been a Walker supporter, if only because he’s been aggressive on good plays and bad throughout the most boring era of Lions football of my life. He’s always been watchable and this year he’s been effective. We’ll see if his trajectory continues to grow into something like stardom.

►2. Win a battle: With this pathetic roster, there just aren’t many Sunday battles the Lions are going to win. However, with an offensive line that features strong tackles in Taylor Decker and Penei Sewell, along with at least one capable guard in Jonah Jackson, the Lions offensive line is actually OK. We know all about the Bears front, but there’s no Khalil Mack these days, as he’s out for the season. This is now a group you can bully some and run the ball on. So, soften up this Chicago defense some, and then …

►3. Daring Dan? After getting rightfully sauteed for his way-too-conservative approach to Sunday’s loss in Cleveland, I would expect Campbell to let loose on Thursday. Let Jared Goff (or Tim Boyle or whoever) cook. Cut him loose and throw the ball down the field. The offense will remain bad, but it CAN’T be that boring again. Going 0-16-1 and being that unwatchable the rest of the season actually makes a coach fireable, and I’d like to see Campbell get another shot at this. But you’ve got to give me something to watch!

►4. Spread slayers: Believe it or not, the Lions are 6-4 against the spread. If you bet them each week, you’d be up two units right now. That’s tied with Buffalo and Minnesota (real teams!) for the seventh-best ATS record in the NFL. Does that mean Campbell is overachieving with a horrible roster? There’s probably a bit of truth to that. But the NFL is designed to be a game with razor-thin margins, and Detroit spreads are often bloated. We can’t give this team too much credit until they win a game, but staying competitive most weeks is better than nothing.

►5. Our common thread: A lot of people out there will tell you to turn the game off and spend time with your family. Not here. Keep it on and watch with your loved ones. Make the Same Old Jokes about the Same Old Lions. Remember memories sunny and dark: Megatron and Night Train, Barry and Lem Barney, Mooch and Marty, Stafford and Harrington. It’s not much, but it’s what we have. We’re still here, and many of us get to be together this year. There are a million reasons to be thankful, and maybe even Coach Dan can find one today.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Matt Schoch covers sports betting for PlayMichigan.com

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