The 7-3 Chicago Bears:
Coming off a four-game winning streak, the 7-3 Chicago Bears play a divisional rival for the third week in a row and face the Detroit Lions for the second time in those same three weeks.
The Bears are 2-2 on the road and 2-1 in their division and are coming off a very short week, having played on Sunday night in Week 11, beating the Minnesota Vikings, 25-20.
Two weeks ago, the Bears beat the Lions at Soldier Field 34-22, and with the higher ranked offense and defense, Chicago expects to have a repeat victorious performance at Ford Field.
The 4-6 Detroit Lions:
When you look at the quality of the four teams the 4-6 Detroit Lions have beaten – the New England Patriots, the Green Bay Packers, the Miami Dolphins and the Carolina Panthers – it’s obvious that despite the Lions’ losing record, they’re doing something right.
First year head coach Matt Patricia’s Lions are hot and cold as he and quarterback Matthew Stafford try desperately to gain control of a losing season after the team’s winning 2017 run of 9-6.
The Lions are 3-2 at home and just 1-2 against divisional rivals, so they’ll have to dig deep to find a home winter win against the Bears in the comfortably covered confines of Ford Field.
What’s at stake:
These two teams have met 177 times, with Detroit winning 74 games and Chicago winning 98 games. They have also tied 5 times. The Bears won the most recent meeting this season in Week 10, but the Lions have won three-in-a-row prior to that.
If the Bears win this matchup, they’ll move to 8-3 and stay atop the NFC North by at least 2 games ahead of the Minnesota Vikings.
But if the Lions come out on top, they’ll be 5-6 and will have beaten two legitimate teams in a row, but would still be at the bottom of the NFC North with the floundering Green Bay Packers.
Questions to answer…
Who’s favored to win this Week 12 Bears-Lions matchup?
Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?
Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?
We’re going to compare the Bears and the Lions and attempt to answer those questions and more.
The 2018 Bears offense slowly maturing
Bears second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is ranked 16th among his quarterback peers having thrown 210-for-321 for 2,469 yards and 20 touchdowns with 9 interceptions this season.
Trubisky’s offense is effective, scoring a 6th ranked average of 29.4 points per game, while their 10th ranked rushing attack is far better than their 21st ranked passing game.
Brand new Bears receivers
Key to the passing attack are a group of receivers that were picked up in the offseason, Taylor Gabriel (ATL) and Allen Robinson (JAX) both free agent acquisitions, while rookie Anthony Miller was drafted in the second round.
Tight end Trey Burton (PHI) is also an offseason pickup.
Chicago’s two-headed running attack
The Bears rush youth – third-year player Jordan Howard has 155 runs for 523 yards and 5 touchdowns while also catching 13 balls for 100 yards.
Second year running back Tarik Cohen has run 63 times for 271 yards and 2 touchdowns while catching 40 balls for 458 yards and 3 touchdowns all while serving as the Bears’ return man (see stats below).
Chicago offensive Injuries
Tight end Adam Shaheen exited Sunday’s game against the Vikings to be evaluated for a concussion.
Tight end Dion Sims (concussion) was placed on injured reserve on Saturday.
Wide receiver Javon Wims (knee) is listed as day-to-day.
The 2018 Lions offense hit or miss
Quarterback Matthew Stafford’s passing attack throws for 243.3 yards per game, which is 18th best in the league, though he’s thrown for 9 interceptions, tied for 10th most overall.
Stafford’s offense scores an average of 22.2 points per game, 20th best in a league of 32.
The Lions’ rushing attack is worse, averaging 100.4 yards per game and ranked 24th.
Johnson a top-ten NFL back
Rookie running back Kerryon Johnson, drafted in the second round, is ranked 9th for his 641 total yards this season, though he has just 3 touchdowns total so far.
Johnson is helped by veteran LeGarrette Blount, who has run 78 times for 183 yards and 3 touchdowns while also catching 5 passes for 39 yards.
Detroit offensive Injuries
Johnson (knee) is slated for an MRI of his left knee on Monday, but the Lions believe he “sustained a sprain and nothing more,” though he’s listed as questionable.
Guard T.J. Lang (neck), who was placed on injured reserve in Week 11, is not considered to be dealing with a career-threatening injury.
Bears Defense ranks 3rd in the league
The Bears defense only allows opponents to score 19.5 points per game (only three teams allow less) and teams they play only average 314.4 total yards of offense per game, third least in the league.
Chicago has the most team interceptions in the NFL (18) and their sack total of 32 is tied for fourth most, while they only allow opponents to convert on 35.0 percent of their third downs, third best in the league.
Bears Defensive Players to watch:
All-Pro outside linebacker Khalil Mack has 8.0 sacks (T-12th most), 27 combined tackles (6 for loss), 8 quarterback hits, 5 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 5 passes defended and a 27-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Cornerback Kyle Fuller is currently tied for second most interceptions (4) in the NFL, also with 34 combined tackles and 13 passes defended.
Linebacker Aaron Lynch (concussion) is listed as questionable.
Lions Defense is 20th overall
The Lions allow opponents to score 26.2 points and 364.6 total yards of offense per game, and for that they are ranked 20th in the league.
They’ve sacked 28 opposing quarterbacks (ranked T-9th) while they’ve intercepted just 4 passes (ranked T-28th) and they’ve allowed opponents to convert on 39.8 percent of their 3rd downs (ranked 18th).
Lions Defensive Players to watch:
Outside linebacker Devon Kennard has 6.0 sacks himself (T-21st most) with 12 quarterback hits, 35 combined tackles (7 for loss) and a fumble recovery.
Defensive end Romeo Okwara has 5.0 sacks with 8 quarterback hits, 25 combined tackles (6 for loss) and a forced fumble.
Middle linebacker Jarrad Davis, an All-Rookie last season, has 63 combined tackles, tied for 39th most in the league, along with 4.0 sacks, 7 quarterback hit, 3 passes defended and a forced fumble.
Special Teams Stats Comparison
Chicago’s punter, Pat O’Donnell, is a fifth year pro who has punted 35 times for a net average of 38.6 yards per punt, ranked 25th in the NFL.
Detroit’s veteran punter, Sam Martin, has spent all six of his NFL seasons as a Lion and has punted 39 times for a net average of 37.7 yards per punt, ranked 32nd in the NFL.
Chicago’s placekicker, Cody Parkey, was a free agent pickup this offseason and has gone 16-for-21, his longest was a 50-yarder.
Parkey has missed two extra point attempts (30/32), both in a Week 10 game where he also missed two field goals, all four kicks hitting the uprights.
Detroit’s veteran placekicker, Matt Prater, in his 12th NFL season, is 19-for-22, his longest was a 54-yarder.
Prater hasn’t missed an extra point attempt (21/21).
Chicago’s punt returner, running back Tarik Cohen, is ranked T-9th in the league.
Cohen has returned 22 punts for 276 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 12.5 yards per return, his longest for 42 yards.
Detroit’s punt returner, wide receiver T.J. Jones, is ranked 17th in the league in return average.
He’s returned 2 punts for 21 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 10.5 yards per return, his longest was for 11 yards.
Bears–Lions prediction and odds
The oddsmakers have the Bears favored over the Lions by 3.5 with an over/under of 44.5.
CBSSports.com has this final score prediction:
John Breech takes the over and predicts it Bears 30, Lions 20