The Chicago Bears have not beaten the Detroit Lions since December of 2012, but they’ll be looking to put that losing streak behind them Sunday as they take on their NFC North rivals for the first time this season.
The Bears will also be looking to win their first game of the season overall, as they’ve started the campaign with three consecutive losses. Those games have seen their defense play sloppy football and their offense fail to move the ball effectively, and they’ll be looking to reverse both of those trends on Sunday at Soldier Field.
So how can the Bears beat the Lions and get things going in the right direction? Here are our three keys to victory for the Bears as they look for a win in Week 4.
Establish the Run Early
The Bears haven’t had much of an opportunity to get their run game going because of how consistently they’ve fallen behind in games this season, but they’ve got to make hay against one of the worst front sevens that they are going to face all season long.
The Lions are giving up 114.7 yards per game on the ground so far this season, and they are the worst run defense that the Bears have faced all year. With Jordan Howard looking to make an impact and rookie center Cody Whitehair beginning to find his footing in the middle of the line, the Bears need to get the run game established to eat up clock and get their offense churning in the right direction against Detroit Sunday.
Minimize Damage in the Passing Game
The Lions have the third-best passing attack in the NFL so far this season, averaging 313 yards per game through the air. Even after the retirement of Calvin Johnson, the team’s receiving corps has not missed a beat, as Marvin Jones has hauled in 18 receptions for 408 yards and two touchdowns and is averaging 136 receiving yards per game.
The Lions also pose a unique threat to the Bears thanks to talented pass-catching running back Theo Riddick, who has 16 receptions so far this season. With those two on the field, and with the Bears missing a couple of key defensive players in Kyle Fuller and (presumably) Danny Trevathan, it’s going to fall to guys like Jerrell Freeman and Tracy Porter to make sure that Detroit’s passing game isn’t too effective in Sunday’s contest.
Get Pass Rush Pressure on Stafford
Even though Stafford is completing 67.5 percent of his passes, there is one thing that is always worth keeping an eye on with him: how often he takes contact and how often he is sacked.
So far this season, Stafford has been sacked eight times, with ranks him in eighth place among NFL quarterbacks. As a team, the Bears only have four sacks this season, and that has got to change if they are going to start trending in the right direction.
In order for that to happen, there are several key players who will need to get going. Willie Young and Jonathan Bullard certainly qualify in that group, as both players have the ability to get to the quarterback but haven’t hit pay dirt nearly often enough so far this season.
Rookie Leonard Floyd also belongs in that group, as he’s shown some growing pains thus far in his NFL career. Thus far he’s shown an inability to shed blocks at the line of scrimmage, and he’s yet to show some of the explosive moves that he displayed during his collegiate career at Georgia. In what has been a lost season for the Bears, it would be highly encouraging to start seeing more development on Floyd’s end, and the Lions’ difficulties in protecting Stafford could really help him in that regard.