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Detroit Lions vie for top spot in NFC North against Chicago Bears

The Detroit Lions must find a way to neutralize the threat of Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte if they hope to take the top spot in the NFC North.

The Detroit Lions must find a way to neutralize the threat of Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte if they hope to take the top spot in the NFC North.

The Detroit Lions (2-1) earned a big road victory in Week 3 against the Washington Redskins, their first win ever in the Washington, D.C. area.

Now they turn their attention back to the NFC North with a crucial home game against divisional rival Chicago Bears (3-0) to close out the first quarter of the season. If they come away with a win, they will set themselves atop the NFC North with a 3-1 overall record and 2-0 record in the division.

The stats

Detroit is averaging 336 passing yards per game (second in the league) but only 74.7 ypg (26th) on the ground, largely because of poor blocking from left guard Rob Sims, right tackle Corey Hilliard and tight end Brandon Pettigrew has been a big hurdle. They go up against a Chicago defense that allows only 88 ypg rushing (8th) but is susceptible in the secondary, giving up 294 passing ypg (24th). Cornerback Charles Tillman has been playing hurt, and the front seven have failed to bring adequate pressure.

The Chicago offense counters with 225 passing ypg (21st) and 105 rushing ypg (17th). Thanks to six short fields from turnovers and 3 defensive touchdowns, they have scored an impressive 95 points through three games. Detroit has allowed 262 passing ypg and 104 rushing ypg (at 4.5 yards per carry). Detroit is best in the league on third down, allowing only a 26.5-percent conversion rate by opposing offenses.

Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers

The Lions turned the ball over eight times against the Bears in 2012, and not surprisingly were swept. In 2011, they lost the game in which they were on the negative side of turnover differential, but in the game that they came out even, they won by double digits.

So far this year, Detroit has only lost four turnovers and sports a +3 turnover differential. For their part, Chicago has forced 11 turnovers, including five interceptions and six forced fumbles. Detroit cannot fall behind in turnover differential if they want to beat Chicago. That is the single most important factor in this game.

Under pressure

With four new starters on the offensive line, Chicago has seemingly put their blocking woes behind them, having given up only three sacks, six hits, and 36 hurries. Detroit has registered six sacks, 16 hits, and a whopping 49 quarterback hurries. Something has to give.

The Lions have surrendered just three sacks — only one of which was charged to the offensive line — nine hits, and 17 hurries. The Bears have struggled to pressure the quarterback without blitzing, only recording five sacks, nine hits, and 25 hurries. Quarterback Matthew Stafford should have enough time to pick apart the Bears’ suspect secondary.

Whichever team wins the turnover battle will probably leave Ford Field with a win.

Whichever team wins the turnover battle will probably leave Ford Field with a win.

Running is their Forte

The strength of the Bears’ offensive line is in the interior, with right guard Kyle Long (+4.3), left guard Matt Slausen (+2.3), and center Roberto Garza (+1.9) all posting good grades in run blocking per ProFootballFocus. Behind them, running back Matt Forte has rushed for 225 yards and two touchdowns on 55 carries (4.1 ypc).

He goes up against a Detroit defense that has struggled against the run of late. If he can break free for a long run or two, it will be huge for Chicago in this tight divisional game.

The Lions rushing attack has limped without running back Reggie Bush in the last two weeks, but he returns for this game. Backup Joique Bell did have early success against the Washington Redskinsm, which opened up the passing game, but performed poorly after halftime.

Chicago remains stout against the run despite losing defensive tackle Henry Melton (-4.3 run defense). With Bush in the lineup, Detroit will continue to run the ball poorly in terms of overall production but offer enough to open up the passing game.

Quarterback battle royale

Both quarterbacks have performed well in 2013.

Jay Cutler is completing 67 percent of his passes at 6.9 yards per attempt for 693 yards, six touchdowns, and three interceptions. In the past he has managed the game well against the Lions and been aided by turnovers. Unless Detroit can bring pressure with the front four, Chicago will move the ball on them.

Matthew Stafford has completed 63.6 percent of his passes at 8.4 ypa for 1,020 yards, six touchdowns, and two interceptions. He has a history of moving the ball well but turning it over too often against Chicago. The loss of wide receiver Nate Burleson to an unfortunate pizza accident means that Patrick Edwards (ankle) and Ryan Broyles (knee) must complement Calvin Johnson to ensure this team scores enough points.

Prediction

This is a huge divisional game that has the potential to set the tone for the NFC North. Detroit needs to hand Chicago their first loss. This is a game that could go either way, so I’m going out on a limb to make two predictions.

If the Lions finish even or positive in turnover differential, they win 31-17. If Chicago wins the turnover battle, they carry the day 27-20.

727 comments
RickSalo
RickSalo

lion  opponents are 1 n 8 so far..and the Lions coach is a retard  if detoilet can limit its mistakes and have no dumb penalties they might win despite having garbage for a coach

Buhlitz
Buhlitz

If the Lions manage to win this game, my hopes for the season will skyrocket.

Right now I don't see us making the playoffs, because we're the Lions. If we get this win that might  change

Building With the Alabama Hammer
Building With the Alabama Hammer

LKP you think the Bears going just +1 in the TO margine, they take the game?

I think they will need to win the TO battle by at least 3 to score enough points to keep up with the Lions.

If Bush plays the whole game, I think the Lions can run away with this.

The Bears D hasn't been as staunch as it once was. The turnovers have compensated for it to this point, but if they don't get the TOs I don't see them being able to consistently stopping CJ, Bush and Bell.

Donny33
Donny33

So Bradshaw is out this week.  Us Trent Richardson owners like this.

Buhlitz
Buhlitz

tillman questionable for chicago

JVince 11
JVince 11

alright guys I am out!!!..


time to go have Dr. Pepper and SoCo Friday After Work get together with the neighborhood..


I hope each one of you have an equally shitty weekend...


Getta go see my Alma-Mater UNI #5 in the nation take on McNeese State #9 in the nation tomorrow!!

BatKitty
BatKitty

@Building With Clay is back SON Yea, and didn't let the Bucs know he was doing so. Apparently they aren't too happy with that. Somebody posted a tweet earlier saying the Bucs are considering making Freeman the inactive 3rd QB this week.

LKP
LKP

@Building With Clay is back SON Depends if its 3 turnover to 2 or 1 turnover to 0. Bears getting 3 turnovers and getting 3 short fields would be huge for them

LKP
LKP

@Buhlitz That would be huge too. He'll play though. Tough guy

JVince 11
JVince 11

@Antonio Brown Doo Doo Butter I just dropped Fleener for Miami's Charles Clay... he is an H-Back for them.. so he lines up at TE and FB.. Philbin said they are gonna use him as their GL back now too.. so he is not only a favorite receiving target but he might get rushing TDs.

Reggie/Agnew 2016
Reggie/Agnew 2016 moderator

Fuck that I'm at 4,000,000,000.

Seriously. I hate how this game owns me lol.

BeerLion
BeerLion

The gods of irony and hypocrisy smile down upon you

tmonson78
tmonson78 moderator

@LionskillBears @Buhlitz I think they have to list him as questionable per the rules since he didn't practice much this week.

But I expect him to play.

Reggie/Agnew 2016
Reggie/Agnew 2016 moderator

He is a walking advertisement for Under Armour! Players can't play well when all they are thinking about are the great deals they can get on top equipment from Under Armour!

Reggie/Agnew 2016
Reggie/Agnew 2016 moderator

THAT'S who that was! I saw #10 on the bench and couldn't figure out who it was. He looked familiar.

BatKitty
BatKitty

Yea, might want to keep an eye on how much they say he'll play. But if he plays significant time, he should do well against MIN.

tmonson78
tmonson78 moderator

@#Choptober "8 Macs"

8???? Maybe if the fine was ~$40,000.

He only needs 2 for $10K.

Reggie/Agnew 2016
Reggie/Agnew 2016 moderator

7 if none of them have stupid stickers all over them.