Bears vs. Lions: What Detroit Must Do to Avoid Fourth Straight Loss to Chicago
On Sunday at Ford Field, the Detroit Lions host an NFC North foe that has had their number in the past.
Not only have the Chicago Bears won the last three matchups between the two teams, they have also won nine of the last 10 clashes. That includes winning four times in Detroit. That is the definition of "having your number."
So, what do the Lions need to do to break the streak against the undefeated Bears on Sunday?
Let's take a look.
Do What They Do Best
The Lions rank second in passing yards per game and fifth in yards per pass attempt this season. Given the Bears rank 29th in yards allowed per pass attempt, there is no reason for the Lions to stray from what they do best.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has passed for over 1,000 yards already, with six touchdowns to two interceptions. In the 27-20 victory over the Washington Redskins last week, he passed for 385 yards, with two touchdowns to one interception. That included an 11-yard strike to Calvin Johnson to distance the Lions from the Redskins down the stretch.
In Chicago's 40-23 victory over the woeful Pittsburgh Steelers last week, Ben Roethlisberger was actually 26-of-41 for 406 yards, with two touchdowns to two interceptions. Granted, an interception and a fumble off a sack were returned for touchdowns, but he did show that you can rack up yardage on this Bears pass defense.
Now, speaking of those turnovers...
Take Care of the Ball
The Bears have been able to mask their defensive inadequacies by forcing turnovers this season. They rank first in the NFL with 11 takeaways (six forced fumbles, five interceptions).
On the flip side, the Lions have turned the ball over four times this season and are among the league leaders in the NFC. Part of that has been because of the offensive line.
While the offensive line has struggled to open up holes for the running game, it has performed admirably in pass protection, allowing just two sacks. The Lions are ranked first in the NFL in pass protection by Football Outsiders.
Having a poor offensive line against the Bears is asking for disaster. The Bears demonstrated that against the Steelers in Week 3. If the Lions offensive line can hold up against the Bears pass rush, the likelihood of turnovers will be reduced dramatically.
Attack Chicago's Offensive Line
Who will win on Sunday?
The Bears offensive line has been spectacular thus far in terms of pass protection, which is hard to fathom after all of these years. Chicago's offensive line is ranked second in adjusted sack rate by Football Outsiders.
That being said, the Bears still have a rookie on the offensive line. Kyle Long has been outstanding as a run-blocker, but still has some issues to work out in pass protection.
Also, whenever Jay Cutler is pressured, his effectiveness in the pocket drops dramatically. According to Pro Football Focus, he completed 36 percent of his passes when under pressure against the Steelers.
Just because the Bears pass protection has looked good so far, it doesn't mean you don't test the offensive line. Allowing Cutler to sit back in the pocket is not the right course of action.
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