Week 15 Preview: Bears at Lions - December 16, 2017

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Week 15 Preview: Bears at Lions – December 16, 2017

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears did to the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 14 what they should have done to the Green Bay Packers back in Week 10.

Cincinnati entered the game battered, bruised, and emotionally drained after a gut-wrenching loss to the arch-rival Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football. The Bengals were reeling, dealing with a ton of injuries and clinging to razor thin playoff chances.

The Detroit Lions enter Saturday’s game (that’s right, tomorrow!) in a similar boat, as they are hanging on to playoff hopes with a home game against a last place Chicago team playing out the string for a coach who is all but out the door.

Will history repeat itself, or will the Lions extend their season with a win at Ford Field to clinch a season sweep of the Bears?

“Never Tell Me The Odds:”

Chicago enters Saturday’s game as a 5-point underdog with the over-under set at 44, according to Bovada. If you’re looking for a trend, the over has come in five of Detroit’s last six games.

Series History:

The Bears are 97-73-5 all-time against the Lions, but the rivalry has tilted toward the Lions since 2013, having won eight of the last nine matchups.

Each of the last six games have been decided by six points or less.

Game Time, Broadcast Info, Officiating Crew:

Location: Ford Field, Detroit

Broadcast Info: 3:30 p.m. CT, NBC-TV (local), NFL Network (Mike Tirico, Kurt Warner, Heather Cox), WBBM-AM 780, WCFS-FM 105.9 (Jeff Joniak, Tom Thayer, Zach Zaidman); Westwood One Radio (Brandon Gaudin, Mike Mayock, Ed Werner)

Referee: Jeff Triplette

Expected Starters and Lineups:

Bears Offense Expected Starters:

  • QB Mitch Trubisky
  • RB Jordan Howard
  • WR Kendall Wright
  • WR Dontrelle Inman
  • WR Josh Bellamy
  • TE Dion Sims
  • LT Charles Leno Jr.
  • LG Josh Sitton
  • C Cody Whitehair
  • RG Tom Compton
  • RT Bobby Massie

Bears Defense Expected Starters:

  • DE Akiem Hicks
  • NT John Jenkins
  • DE Jonathan Bullard
  • OLB Sam Acho
  • ILB Danny Trevathan
  • OLB Pernell McPhee
  • CB Kyle Fuller
  • CB Prince Amukamara
  • CB Bryce Callahan
  • FS Eddie Jackson
  • SS Chris Prosinski

Bears Specialists: 

  • Mike Nugent (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 Theo Riddick
  • WR Marvin Jones
  • WR Golden Tate
  • WR Kenny Golladay
  • TE Darren Fells
  • LT Taylor Decker
  • LG Don Barclay
  • C Graham Glasgow
  • RG T.J. Lang
  • RT Corey Robinson

Lions Defense Expected Starters:

  • DE Anthony Zettel
  • DT Akeem Spence
  • DT A’Shawn Robinson
  • DE Cornelius Washington
  • OLB Tahir Whitehead
  • MLB Jarrad Davis
  • OLB Paul Worrilow
  • CB Darius Slay
  • CB Nevin Lawson
  • FS Glover Quin
  • SS Quandre Diggs

Lions Specialists:

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

Hot or Not and Whom to Watch

Chicago Bears – Offense

Jordan Howard has three games against the Detroit Lions under his belt and has averaged 6.3 yards per carry and 107.3 yards per game in those contests. Extrapolate his per-game average over 16 games, and it comes to a 1,700-yard rushing season. If we stretch his per-carry average over the course of a 300-carry season, Howard could flirt with 2,000 rushing yards. That’s how good his numbers have been against Detroit.

Howard still needs to grow as a receiver. According to Pro Football Focus, he’s dropped 25 percent of his catchable targets – the most among NFL running backs this season.

You want some more action, Mr. Wright? You might be in line to get it Saturday against Teez Tabor (who lines up as the slot corner on 94 percent of his snaps) or Nevin Lawson (who played in the slot on 51 percent of his snaps in Week 14). Lawson is PFF’s 105th ranked corner out of 120 qualifiers, while Tabor’s 49.3 grade would put him at 94th if he played enough snaps to qualify.

Chicago Bears – Defense

Kyle Fuller will likely see plenty of Marvin Jones Jr. on Saturday and the Bears’ fourth-year corner will be out for revenge. Jones Jr. racked up 85 yards and a touchdown against Fuller, who was going through a mid-season slump in Week 11. In the last two weeks, Fuller has seen 20 targets, but has allowed just eight catches, 55 yards, and a 27.1 passer rating. Those are superb numbers for a guy in a contract year.

Danny Trevathan didn’t play in Week 11 and his Week 15 matchup could be a challenge. Trevathan is the Bears’ best tackler, run defender, and coverage linebacker against tight ends and running backs. Theo Riddick has PFF’s sixth best receiving grade among running backs, ranking just ahead of Tarik Cohen – and we all know how good he is.

Detroit Lions – Offense

Matthew Stafford was nursing a hand injury and still threw for 381 yards and a touchdown, though, he did give up two interceptions. His two most-targeted pass catchers on Sunday were tight end Eric Ebron (10 catches, 94 yards) and the aforementioned Riddick (6 catches, 64 yards). Stafford is a big play threat and has had all week to rest up and get that much more healthy.

Keep an eye on how the Lions go about protecting Stafford on Saturday. Corey Robinson played 68 snaps against the Buccaneers in place of stud right tackle Rick Wagner. Graham Glasgow is a guard by trade who will move into the center position in place of Travis Swanson, who is out with a concussion. Glasgow might not have to face nose tackle Eddie Goldman.

Detroit Lions – Defense

The Lions have deployed Darius Slay in shadow coverage in nine games this season, but one of them wasn’t in their 27-24 win against the Bears in Week 11. But after watching Wright go off for 10 catches and 107 yards, one wonders if Detroit would re-think that decision and have Slay keep tabs on Trubisky’s favorite target from Week 14. Slay posted a team-best 82.3 overall grade in their first matchup.

Glover Quin roaming in the secondary looks to be a mismatch for whoever the Bears throw out there against him. The Lions safety wasn’t targeted at all in 35 coverage snaps back in Week 11, he also tacked on four tackles for good measure. Quin has PFF’s 11th best coverage grade and is stout against the run. He’s a tough customer, no matter which way you slice it.



Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.