By Michael Ferro
When the Detroit Lions visited the Windy City early in Week 4 of the season, the Chicago Bears were winless and the Lions were still very much a question mark. Chicago mustered up just enough to beat Detroit 17-14, and thought perhaps maybe their season would turn around. Those were very different times.READ MORE: Michigan Matters: Fighting for Inclusion, Detroit's Place in Civil Rights History
These days, the Detroit Lions remain in first place in the NFC North at 8-4 while the Chicago Bears sit in dead last at 3-9 with their win over Detroit standing as one of their only victories this year. Now, as the Bears head to Ford Field to play a Detroit team fresh off their impressive 28-13 win over New Orleans, they’re looking to get a little revenge against a division rival. It’s not often that the Lions are seen as a lock over the Bears, but this season, it’s a welcome sensation for Lions fans.
Bears Season Record: 3-9
Despite their commanding 26-6 win on Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers, it is no secret that the Chicago Bears have had a simply atrocious season. At 3-9, Chicago is in last place within the division and the season isn’t just lost; it’s become unwatchable. That being said, there were certainly some redeeming qualities to be seen during the Bears’ last game.
One thing that is ironic: With their win on Sunday, the Bears might have lost overall in the big picture, as they will now likely no longer receive one of the top two draft picks during the 2017 NFL Draft.
Bears on Offense
One thing the Chicago offense had going for them on Sunday? Snow. When San Francisco stepped onto Soldier Field into a snow storm, many knew right off the bat that the Bears would have an edge. And they truly did, routing the 49ers 26-6. Also a big winner during that game was running back Jordan Howard, who, because of the snow and windy conditions, became the go-to offensive weapon during the game. For his efforts, he had a career day, carrying the ball 32 times for 117 yards and three touchdowns.READ MORE: Karen Carter, and Others Metro Detroiters Chipped In To Help Salvation Army’s Bed and Bread Radiothon
Despite the storm, wide receiver Joshua Bellamy also had a respectable game, catching four receptions for 93 yards. Chicago’s offense outperformed the 49ers in first downs nearly two-to-one (19-10) and also had the edge in third down efficiency. That’s all well and good, but the big thing here to consider: No snow at Ford Field, so Chicago loses the edge in that respect.
Bears on Defense
The big headline for the Bears defense this year has one name: Leonard Floyd. The rookie linebacker out of Georgia didn’t play for three games of the season due to a concussion that saw him leave the field in an ambulance, but with seven sacks so far, he’s already got the record for third most for a rookie within the Bears franchise. Not to mention he’s also on pace to beat veteran Willie Young, too (Young had 7.5 sacks his rookie year).
Against San Francisco, Floyd had two sacks, including one for a safety. And while he may represent the future for a tough Chicago defense, what many in Detroit are wondering now is if he’ll be able to get to the Lions’ golden boy, Matthew Stafford. While Stafford has felt the pressure all year long, he’s also a legitimate threat on his feet, too, which should give Detroit an edge… if Stafford can stay on his feet, that is.
Players to Watch: LB Leonard Floyd & RB Jordan Howard
Both Leonard Floyd and Jordan Howard are young, talented, and may represent the future in Chicago, but the numbers they put up last Sunday don’t exactly translate into success this Sunday against the Lions in Ford Field. They should, by all means though, be watched closely as impact players.
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For once, the analysts might finally take Detroit’s side. Then again, the Lions seem to thrive as the underdog, so let the naysayers say what they will. But back in Detroit, with the playoffs on the line, it’s hard to fathom Matthew Stafford letting a down-and-out Chicago team steal another win this season.