The Detroit Lions host the Chicago Bears this afternoon in the first NFC North home game for Detroit this season. As I enjoy the Sunday morning pot of coffee on a bright, brisk November day, here’s what is going through my head about the Week 11 game.
Why I think the Lions will win
- Jared Goff is playing fantastic at quarterback. Goff is so consistently making the correct read, the right decision, the smart play — he’s in great control of the Ben Johnson/Dan Campbell offense. Part of that is mistake avoidance, and if Goff can keep that up, the Bears pass defense is in for a very long afternoon.
- The offensive rookies both have mismatches. Running back Jahmyr Gibbs is poised for a huge game, likely as a receiver as much as a runner. Tight end Sam LaPorta, already on a record rookie receiving pace for his position, also has a major matchup advantage against a Bears back seven that struggles in the middle of the field. That’s where LaPorta thrives and where Goff is at his best, too. Bad, bad matchup for Chicago’s defense.
- Chicago has given the ball away 18 times in 10 games, the second-most turnovers in the league. Justin Fields is back under center and that might help; rookie QB Tyson Bagent threw six INTs in four games. But Fields also has thrown six INTs in six stars, and he’s also fumbled four times. Coming off his injury to his thumb on his throwing hand, Fields isn’t likely to be sharp or in perfect concert with his receivers. That means takeaway opportunities for Kerby Joseph, Aidan Hutchinson and rookie LB Jack Campbell.
What worries me about the Bears
- This isn’t a huge concern, but it deserves attention: Chicago acquiring EDGE Montez Sweat has been a big boost for the Bears defense. He’s a legit pass rusher, and Sweat moves the other Bears defenders — who were the league’s worst (by a fair margin too) at creating pressure and sacks — into more copacetic roles on the depth chart.
- No team stops the run better than the Bears. Really. Some of it is due to volume, or lack thereof. But the Chicago D allows just 3.2 yards per carry overall (best in the league) and 3.6 yards on first-down carries (4th-best). They tackle well and their DBs get off blocks well to help out. It’s a challenge for the Lions offensive line, one that will be without LG Justin Jackson, and the tight ends. Detroit handled that pretty darn well against a very skilled Chargers front a week ago.
- Fields and his ability to run has been a big issue for the Lions, and pretty much everyone else, in the past. He finally has a viable receiving threat in D.J. Moore, and TE Cole Kmet has taken a step up as a receiver, too. Detroit’s defense has issues with mobile quarterbacks who can throw. If Fields is “on” with his arm, he’s a very real problem for Aaron Glenn’s defense if Detroit plays passively.
- The Bears have the better kicker and are very well-coached on special teams. Detroit typically is too, but Dave Fipp’s units have not been on top of their game in the last couple of weeks.
The Lions are rightly favored by over a touchdown. I don’t expect a “trap” game with Thanksgiving coming up, in part because I believe Dan Campbell has (correctly) sold his team that the Bears are dangerous. They’re better, no doubt. They’re also not nearly as dangerous as the Lions.
Lions 33, Bears 20