Lions look to stay in the wild-card in the NFC when they host the Bears on Saturday afternoon
Detroit is on the edge of playoff contention while Chicago is trying to build momentum for 2018 behind rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. The Bears (4-9) are coming off of an impressive win in Cincinnati in which Jordan Howard did some solid work and the defense kept the Bengals in check. For the second straight game, Chicago's offense was turnover-free and managed to rack up more than 200 yards on the ground and through the air. The amazing thing is that the Bears are doing so without a true No. 1 wide receiver that scares anyone (and a rookie QB). Cameron Meredith and Kevin White were lost to injury early on, leading to the trade for former Chargers wideout Dontrelle Inman, who was the fourth or fifth option for Los Angeles.
RELATED: Detroit Lions Schedule
The Lions (7-6) meanwhile, stopped a two-game losing streak with a win over the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay. Detroit won 24-21 despite forcing five turnovers. Matthew Stafford looked OK while dealing with his injured hand, but it was Theo Riddick's two touchdowns that were big. The defense has had its problems, especially up front where injuries have taken their toll. Despite this, the Lions remain in the hunt for a wild-card spot part of a three-team logjam currently a game behind Seattle for the final playoff berth. Detroit's Week 17 matchup with Green Bay could determine a playoff spot depending on what happens between now and then.
The first meeting between these teams saw the Lions win 27-24 in Chicago in Week 11. The Bears ran for 222 yards, but couldn't make the big stop on defense when they had to. Stafford threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns and Matt Prater hit the game-winning, 52-yard field goal with 1:35 on the clock as Chicago's last-second attempt to tie the game from 46 yards out went wide right.
Detroit has won eight of the last nine meetings with Chicago, a series that dates all the way back to 1930. The Bears lead the all-time series 97-73-5.
Chicago at Detroit
Kickoff: Saturday, Dec 16 at 4:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: NFL Network
Spread: Lions -5.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Will the Lion run game sleep tonight?
Detroit is averaging just 76.3 rushing yards per game and it's putting more pressure on the rest of the offense. Theo Riddick (right) had two rushing touchdowns in last week’s win over Tampa Bay, but managed just 29 yards on 10 carries. Ameer Abdullah was a healthy scratch last week and acknowledged that he's one of the reasons why the rushing attack hasn't been that good. Abdullah isn't exactly an every-down back it seems. Matthew Stafford is capable of winning games on his own, as he has done quite a bit during his career. Chicago clamped down on Cincinnati’s running game last week, but the Bengals also ran it just 13 times. This defense can be run on, but the Lions will have to stick with the run in the first place to find out. In the first meeting with Chicago, Detroit had just 65 rushing yards on 24 carries, the longest gain being an 11-yard run by Abdullah.
2. Bear down on their opponent
Chicago head coach John Fox is starting to let his quarterback throw the ball a little bit more and it's helping the offense as a whole. Mitchell Trubisky has had just 10 incompletions over his last 47 pass attempts and it's because teams have to worry about Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen on the ground. Howard ran for 125 yards on 15 carries in Week 11 against Detroit with Cohen adding a touchdown while averaging 4.9 yards per rush himself. Trubisky even got into the act with 53 yards on the ground (six carries). The rookie has shown he has mobility in the pocket and can make plays with his legs when need be. Five straight opponents have finished with more than 100 rushing yards against the Lions. The Bears need to make it six in a row if they want to have a chance at winning this game.
The obvious factor to consider here is that each team has one less day to prepare with this game taking place on Saturday. The injury report bears watching paying special attention to Eddie Goldman, Pernell McPhee and Adrian Amos for Chicago as well as Rick Wagner for Detroit. The Lions are just 2-4 at home this season, losing at Ford Field to Pittsburgh, Minnesota, Carolina and Atlanta by a combined 19 points. Consistency has been an issue for Chicago, who has played teams like the Vikings (lost by three points) and Saints (lost by eight) tough, but have been blown out by the Eagles while also losing to the Buccaneers and 49ers. You never know what you are going to get from such a young team.
One has to think the Lions will win this one although it probably won't be easy. They know that they have to keep winning if they want to have any shot at making the postseason. The Bears will make them work though with Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen grinding out yards as well as controlling the clock. Still, I'm not ready to believe that Chicago can win this one on the road. I think Matthew Stafford throws three touchdown passes and Detroit gets a rare easy win.
Prediction: Lions 28, Bears 13
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.