Week 11 Preview: Lions at Bears – November 19, 2017

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Week 11 Preview: Lions at Bears – November 19, 2017

Game Previews

I’m not over losing to the Green Bay Packers just yet, but it’s time to move onto Detroit.

After watching a team that took a significant step back despite having a bye week to prepare, I’m left wondering how the Chicago Bears play out the string after suffering their toughest loss of the season. How players respond over the next seven games will be worth watching as they play out the back half of what could be a third straight losing season under Head Coach John Fox.

I guess it all starts Sunday against the Detroit Lions.

“Never Tell Me The Odds:”

The Bears (3-6) entered Friday as 3-point underdogs to the Lions (5-4) with the over under set at 41, according to Bovada. Detroit is 5-4 against the line and 2-1 as a favorite. If you’re looking for a possible trend to exploit, the “under” has come in on six of the Bears’ nine games this season.

Series History:

While Chicago relinquished its series lead against Green Bay  earlier in the year, it still holds a comfortable 97-72-5 head-to-head advantage over Detroit. However, the Lions are making up ground quickly as winners of seven of the last eight games – including three of the last four at Soldier Field.

Game Time, Broadcast Info, Officiating Crew:

Location: Soldier Field, Chicago

Broadcast Info: noon, FOX-TV (Thom Brenneman, Chris Spielman, Peter Schrager – yep, the same crew as last week), WBBM-AM 780, WCFS-FM 105.9 (Jeff Joniak, Tom Thayer, Zach Zaidman)

Referee: Gene Steratore

Expected Starters and Lineups:

Bears Offense Expected Starters:

  • QB Mitch Trubisky
  • RB Jordan Howard
  • FB Michael Burton
  • WR Dontrelle Inman
  • WR Josh Bellamy
  • TE Adam Shaheen
  • LT Charles Leno Jr.
  • LG Josh Sitton
  • C Cody Whitehair
  • RG Kyle Long
  • RT Bobby Massie

Bears Defense Expected Starters:

  • DE Akiem Hicks
  • NT Eddie Goldman
  • DE Mitch Unrein
  • OLB Sam Acho
  • ILB Christian Jones
  • OLB Leonard Floyd
  • CB Kyle Fuller
  • CB Prince Amukamara
  • CB Cre’von LeBlanc
  • FS Eddie Jackson
  • SS Adrian Amos

Bears Specialists: 

  • Connor Barth (kicker), Pat O’Donnell (punter, holder), Andrew DePaola (long snapper), Benny Cunningham, Tarik Cohen (kick returners), Tarik Cohen (punt returner)

Lions Offense Expected Starters:

  • QB Matthew Stafford
  • RB Ameer Abdullah
  • WR T.J. Jones
  • WR Golden Tate
  • WR Marvin Jones Jr.
  • TE Eric Ebron
  • LT Taylor Decker
  • LG Graham Glasgow
  • C Travis Swanson
  • RG T.J. Lang
  • RT Rick Wagner

Lions Defense Expected Starters:

  • DE Anthony Zettel
  • DT A’Shawn Robinson
  • DT Akeem Spence
  • DE Ezekiel Ansah
  • OLB Tahir Whitehead
  • MLB Jarrad Davis
  • OLB Paul Worrilow
  • CB Darius Slay
  • CB Nevin Lawson
  • SS Tavon Wilson
  • FS Glover Quin

Lions Specialists:

  • Matt Prater (kicker), Sam Martin (punter, holder, kickoffs), Don Muhlbach (long snapper), Dwayne Washington, TJ Jones (kick returns), Jamal Agnew (punt returns)

Hot or Not and Whom to Watch

Chicago Bears – Offense

Running back Tarik Cohen has eight touches in his last three games, but Lions middle linebacker Jarrad Davis has earned Pro Football Focus’ third-lowest coverage grade among linebackers in his 245 coverage snaps. Sounds like the kind of matchup worth exploiting from a Bears perspective. Cohen still has PFF’s ninth-highest receiving grade among running backs, so it might behoove his offensive coordinator to get creative in getting him the ball as a receiver.

Dontrelle Inman is expected to draw shadow coverage from Darius Slay, while Kendall Wright will match up against Quandre Diggs, who is PFF’s 27th best overall corner and has played 99 percent of his snaps in the slot. This means Mitch Trubisky could increase target Les Josh Bellamy on the outside. Nevin Lawson starts on the other side of the field from Slay and his 42.2 grade ranks 105th among 116 qualifying corners at PFF. Lawson has played 186 coverage snaps and the result has been the 103rd ranked coverage grade.

Chicago Bears – Defense

Nick Kwiatkoski’s return couldn’t have come at a better time. With Danny Trevathan out with a calf injury, Kwiatkoski played 36 snaps against the Packers in Week 10 and earned an 80.6 grade from PFF in his return. The Bears could use stability and production at inside linebacker, with Kwiatkoski being the guy to bring it. I expect the Bears to play a ton of nickel on Sunday, which leaves Kwiatkoski splitting time with Christian Jones when Cre’von LeBlanc steps onto the field.

When Brett Hundley targeted Kyle Fuller, he completed 8 of 10 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown. That adds up to a 152.1 passer rating. That’s not going to get it done when going up against Pro Bowl quarterback Matthew Stafford. Fuller has cooled off after a strong start to his season and his PFF grade has dropped to 48.4, which ranks 89th among corners.

Detroit Lions – Offense

Right guard T.J. Lang (83.4 grade at PFF) and right tackle Rick Wagner (81.1) are the strength of the Lions line. How the right side stands up against the Bears’ defensive line sets up for a marquee battle in the trenches. Detroit’s offensive line has allowed the fifth-most pressures, but beyond Akiem Hicks, the Bears’ line hasn’t provided much pressure of its own. It might be up to Leonard Floyd to step up and make a play from the edge rusher spot.

One of the most lopsided matchups might be Golden Tate lining up against the slot against Cre’von LeBlanc. Don’t get me wrong, I remember LeBlanc had a bit of a breakout last year and had one of the best games for a slot corner in 2016 against Stafford in Detroit. But Stafford has a 107.7 passer rating when throwing to Tate, whose 86.6 grade s the fifth best among receivers at PFF and the best among receivers who line up in the slot at an 80 percent clip or higher.

Detroit Lions – Defense

Darius Slay has been one of the league’s best corners in each of the last two years, especially when going up in man-to-man. Slay is one of the rare corners who is assigned shadow coverage and is successful in that role. When asked to participate in shadow coverage, opposing quarterbacks targeting Slay have completed 51.7 percent of their passes and have posted a 52.7 passer rating. I’d avoid throwing in his direction at all costs.

Second-year defensive end Anthony Zettel is having a breakout season with six sacks and an 83.4 grade from PFF that ranks 20th among edge rushers. Zettel often lines up above the right tackle in Detroit’s 4-3 scheme, meaning he’ll match up against Bobby Massie – who is arguably the Bears’ weakest offensive lineman. Massie was one of the five highest-graded players for his efforts against the Packers in Week 10, but his 22 total pressures allowed are the most on the team.


Luis Medina

Luis is the Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation Bears, and you can find him on Twitter at @lcm1986.