Well, this is an interesting turn of events.
Heading into the season, we expected the Week 17 matchup between the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions to have major playoff implications, with both teams competing for a spot in the playoffs, or even the NFC North crown.
The Lions have struggled all season and currently sit at 4-11 on the season, whereas the Bears are on the outside looking in of the NFC playoff picture.
As the NFL regular season winds down, this divisional rivalry could have slight implications on the postseason.
Where: Ford Field
When: Sunday, Dec. 30 at 1 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NFL.com
Betting Line: Chicago -3 (via OddsShark)
Chicago Injury Report (via Yahoo! Sports as of Dec. 23, 2012)
|Brandon Marshall WR||Probable||Hamstring|
|Jonathan Scott T||Questionable||Hamstring|
|Tim Jennings CB||Questionable||Shoulder|
|Blake Costanzo LB||Questionable||Calf|
|Earl Bennett WR||Questionable||Concussion|
|Henry Melton DT||Doubtful||Chest|
|Brian Urlacher LB||Out||Hamstring|
Detroit Injury Report (via Yahoo! Sports as of Dec. 23, 2012)
|Calvin Johnson WR||Probable||Knee|
|Louis Delmas S||Questionable||Knee|
|Brandon Pettigrew TE||Doubtful||Ankle|
What's at Stake?
The Bears could fight their way into the playoffs with a victory on Sunday and a Vikings loss to the Houston Texans. However, they need some help.
Also on the line is the first 2,000-yard receiving season in NFL history. After breaking the single-season record last week, Calvin Johnson sits at 1,892 receiving yards. With 108 yards, he will reach 2,000.
Chicago WR Brandon Marshall
Marshall is having the second-best year of any NFL wide receiver in terms of fantasy points, scoring 206 through 15 games.
Marshall is the best option the Bears have this week, and after finding the end zone in each of the last three weeks, he could easily add two more touchdowns to his season total of 11.
Predicted Stats: 9 receptions, 112 yards, 2 TD
Detroit WR Calvin Johnson
There is only one guy who is having a better season as a receiver than Marshall, and that's Johnson.
Megatron is going for 2,000 receiving yards, and you can bet that the Lions are going to help him get it one way or another.
Johnson has provided the only bright spots during a horrible season for the Lions, and 2,000 receiving yards would be the brightest of them all.
Predicted Stats: 15 receptions, 132 yards, 1 TD
What They're Saying
The Bears are hopeful that middle linebacker and defensive leader Brian Urlacher will play on Sunday.
LM: Lovie Smith on Urlacher's status for Sunday: "He’s getting better ... We’re hopeful. You never know. Brian is a quick healer."— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) December 24, 2012
We all know just how good Johnson is, but after he broke the receiving record, Terrell Owens told him congrats. Come on, it's T.O. Tell me that's not pretty freakin' cool.
Congrats to Calvin Johnson aka Megatron!! Keep beasting out there!— Terrell Owens (@terrellowens) December 23, 2012
Key Matchup: Lions Passing Attack vs. Bears Secondary
Who has the No. 1 passing attack this year? Not the Packers, Patriots or Saints. It's the Lions.
With Matthew Stafford lobbing it up to Megatron, the Lions have a very strong passing attack. However, the Bears have the best secondary in the NFL with Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings leading the charge.
Look for the defense that held Johnson to just 34 yards earlier in the season to have a tough time repeating the feat.
This game is going to work out for both sides. Megatron will reach 2,000 yards, but the Bears will win the game thanks to the holes in Detroit's D.
Predicted Score: Bears 23, Lions 13