The Bears have won nine of their last 10 games against the Detroit Lions, winning seven of the nine scoring no fewer than 24 points. More concerning, as good as the Chicago defense has been in recent seasons, the Lions scored 20 or more points in six of the 10 games.
Meaning: Chances are reasonably good that the Bears’ still-forming offense will be called on to do more than care-take. Detroit ranks sixth in scoring, and while the Bears stand at No. 3, that includes three defensive touchdowns in the last two games, played against teams (Minnesota, Pittsburgh) currently 0-6 combined.
Past Chicago offenses have been ill-equipped to stand up to shootouts. Marc Trestman and his staff were hired in part to develop an offense that could. This might be the week that happens.
And they haven’t exactly shown that they can yet.
“I think we played well enough to win offensively because we played well enough to win on special teams and defense,” Trestman said. “We've been winning as a team. There's no doubt about it. I don’t think we could win a game on our own, or we haven't been able to do that yet.”
The Lions have struggled against the pass, with a suspect secondary and standing 18th in passing yardage allowed (262 per game). Detroit has five interceptions, but only two of those were by defensive backs, cornerback Chris Houston and safety Glover Quin. They used a high second-round draft pick this year on a cornerback (Darius Slay), and he’s been benched.
Meanwhile, the Bears have had a different player lead them in receptions in each of their three games (Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte, Alshon Jeffery) while having two other players (Martellus Bennett, Earl Bennett) provide clinching touchdowns in the last two wins.
Most significantly, the offense has improved to 44 percent on third-down conversions, ninth in the NFL. The issue is whether the Lions have the defensive firepower in the back seven to match up with the Chicago offense as now constituted.
“They haven’t been in negative situations the way they have been in the past,” said Lions coach Jim Schwartz. “Second-and-18, third-and-long situations, they’ve managed those. They’ve had a lot less mistakes, a lot less turnovers.”