Bears-Lions preview: Detroit's ball

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Bears-Lions preview: Detroit's ball

The Lions totaled 788 yards against the Bears 575, so any offensive edge ostensibly belongs to Detroit. But Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has never won at Soldier Field. And he gets beat up a lot when he plays there.
 
He has been forced out of Bears games with knee (2009) and shoulder (2010) injuries. Last year he got into a fight with cornerback D.J. Moore after throwing one of his four interceptions and was fined 7,500. He was sacked five times in the 2009 game.
 
In the 2011 game two, the Lions turned the ball over six times total and Stafford was sacked twice, finishing with a 46.3 passer rating. It didnt matter that the Lions vastly out-gained the Bears; they lost the ball on their first two possessions in three of the four quarters.
 
And Detroit is 2-3 for a reason.
 
We havent put enough sevens on the board early in the game, thats for sure, Stafford said. We have a lot of yards early and often in game but havent put touchdowns on the board. Thats something were still working on and giving it everything weve got to try and get sevens early.

Beyond Megatron
 
The 5,000 passing yards of Stafford last year really isnt the key in this matchup. Neither is All-World wideout Calvin Johnson for that matter. Stafford scored with a 73-yard pass to Calvin Johnson between safeties Chris Harris and Brandon Meriweather in the Detroit game last year. It was the last start for Meriweather and next-to-last for Harris, was released a couple weeks later.
 
The point there is that the Bears Stafford shredded last year are not the ones hell see Monday night. The safety play with Chris Conte and Major Wright has been solid behind a pass rush that has had three or more sacks in all but the Dallas game.
 
The Bears are unlikely to put up the two defensive and one return TD that keyed the win in Soldier Field last year. But either are the Lions likely to get an 88-yard rushing TD against a Bears front that is No. 1 in the NFL allowing just 65.8 yards per game. The Lions are 19th with 99.8 rushing yards per game and have not established a run game with Mikel Leshoure.

Keeping score
 
The Lions were able to blitz Philadelphia with a fourth-quarter spurt but the Bears are not the Eagles, and the Bears are allowing just 14.2 points per game.
 
Holding the Lions and a receiving corps of Johnson, Nate Burleson and Titus Young, plus tight ends Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler to fewer than 15 points will be a chore, and the Lions are scoring 25.2 on average.
 
But no team has scored more than Green Bays 23 on the Bears and it is difficult to see Stafford and Detroit topping that without a run game, which the Lions dont have.
 
Last year, they had a lot of offensive firepower, linebacker Lance Briggs said. This year, they still have that firepower but just lost some close games and won some close games, especially as of late. Theyre a dangerous team and we already know its going to be a battle. It always is. But its one we have to win.

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Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks battle Bruins tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks battle Bruins tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Boston Bruins tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Scott Darling gets the nod.

Joel Quenneville is giving a struggling Corey Crawford a breather tonight, electing to go with Darling in the final game of the father's road trip. Darling is 11-4-2 with a 2.34 goals against average, .924 save percentage and one shutout in 20 games this season. His numbers aren't as great on the road, where he is 4-2-1 with a 2.83 GAA and .901 save percentage compared to a 7-2-1 record with a 1.98 GAA and .928 save percentage at home, but he fared well against Boston last season. The Lemont native stopped 42 of 46 shots, good for a .913 save percentage, in a 6-4 win at the United Center last April.

2. The Panarin-Anisimov-Kane line.

The Blackhawks' trio of Artem Anisimov, Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin had a rare zero points in Tuesday's 6-4 win over Colorado, but don't expect to see that again. In fact, it could be the opposite. In their last meeting against the Bruins, a 6-4 win on April 3 during the 2015-16 season, they combined for 11 points (five goals, six assists), highlighted by a Kane hat trick that put him at 100 points on the season for the first time in his career. 

3. How the rookies build off a monsterous game.

In arguably the most well-rounded victory of the season Tuesday in Colorado, the Blackhawks had three rookies that had multi-point efforts. Vinnie Hinostroza had two goals, including the game winner. Tanner Kero had two goals and one assist, while Nick Schmaltz also had a goal and an assist. It was the top-six that was doing the heavy lifting earlier in the season, now the bottom-six is slowly starting to contribute on a consistent basis. The Blackhawks will be in great shape if they can confidently roll four lines that have the potential to find the back of the net on any given shift.

4. Patrice Bergeron vs. Jonathan Toews.

Two of the best two-way centers in the league will go head-to-head, and it's always a fun matchup to watch. Bergeron leads the league with 597 faceoff wins, and is ranked fifth with a 58.4 percentage at the dot while Toews ranks eighth in wins with 473 — despite missing nine games with a back injury — and sits at sixth with a 57.5 percentage. Both of the perennial Selke Trophy candidates have struggled offensively this season, with Bergeron recording only 21 points in 45 games and Toews with 22 points in 38 contests. Bergeron has been heating up as of late, though, scoring three goals and six assists in his last eight games. Bergeron also leads the league in possession numbers, with the Bruins controlling 61.9 percent of the even-strength shot attempts when he's on the ice.

5. Brad Marchand.

In September, Marchand inked an eight-year, $49 million deal and it's already paying dividends for the Bruins. He has 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in his last eight games, and 45 points total, which is by far the most on his team and tied for sixth in the NHL. He's 16 points away from tying his career high of 61 set last season, with a little less than half the year to go. He's also had great success against the Blackhawks. In his last six games against Chicago, dating back to the 2013-14 campaign, he has registered at least a point in all of them, scoring four goals and adding five assists. To make life more difficult, he's a player that enjoys getting under people's skin, so expect him to be a big factor tonight.

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