This Sunday is the renewal of the annual “Lions and Tigers and Bears Oh My” game. In case you didn’t know, the “Lions and Tigers and Bears Oh My” game is when the Chicago Bears play the Detroit Lions at Detroit. This is because of the involvement of the Lions and the Bears of course, and also because the Detroit Tigers play in Detroit. Therefore, it’s the “Lions and Tigers and Bears Oh My” classic. Everyone knows about this nickname (I just made it up). It’s a really cool nickname for a game (no it’s not). I’m getting more pumped about this game by the second as I write, read, and re-read each sentence (true story).
The Bears (3-9) travel to Detroit to face the surprising NFC North division leading Lions (8-4) on Sunday at Noon. You may recall that one of the Bears three wins was against the Lions at Soldier Field in Week 4. It was the Bears first win of the season while the Lions fell into a last place tie with Chicago at 1-3 at that point. Little did we know that they would win 7 of their next 8 games to vault into 1st Place in the NFC North. Detroit holds a 2 game advantage over Minnesota and Green Bay (both 6-6). It’s crazy how well the Lions have played since the Bears turned them into little cuddly kitty cats at Soldier. If you would have told me that Detroit would go on from that game to win 7 of 8 I would’ve told you “you’re nuts kid!”. In fact, the Lions looked so bad that day I was sure, absolutely sure that the Bears would finish ahead of them in the NFC North final standings. Somehow the Lions have found a way to win close games. They have trailed in most of these victories before coming back and winning in the 4th quarter.
Keep An Eye On : QB #12 Matt Barkley / Offensive Line
The Bears will continue to evaluate Matt Barkley in this his 3rd consecutive start. This is his first road start. How will he look? Will he keep his composure? Ford Field is a notoriously rough place for Chicago to visit. I recall Jay Cutler (and other Bears QB’s) getting sacked so many times over the years as his offensive line would always seem to fold under the pressure. It seems like they usually can’t even hear the snap count as the wild fans scream their lungs out. How many false starts and holding penalties will we see on Sunday? Historically it has been too many to gain much traction to complete enough touchdown drives to achieve victory. Having said that, can Barkley rally his troops, calm their nerves (and his), and lead his team to some scores? Will the receivers catch his passes?
Aikman Efficiency Ratings (AER)
- Chicago : 25th Offense, 14th Defense, 26th Overall
- Detroit : 11th Offense, 26th Defense, 14th Overall
The Lions are playing so well as of late that it’s hard to understand why from an outsider’s perspective. QB #9 Matthew Stafford is playing the best ball of his career, despite the fact that WR Calvin Johnson retired after last season at age 30. It seems like new life was breathed into Stafford as he had to spread the ball around more. He has thrown touchdown passes to 7 different receivers in ’16 including WR #15 Golden Tate who has 65 catches for 762 yards and 3 TD. Stafford’s numbers look amazing as he has compiled a 100.5 QB rating with 3224 yards, 21 TD, and just 5 INT. His previous career bests were a 97.2 rating in 2011 and 12 INT in 2014. He’s on pace to post career numbers while leading Detroit to their 1st division Championship since 1993 when it was known as the NFC Central! I know, right? It’s hard to believe it has been 23 years since they won a division title.
The funny thing about Detroit’s run to glory is that they looked so bad in Week 4 against the cellar dwelling Bears. You might recall the Bears won 17-14 as Stafford had a lousy game completing only 23 of 36 for just 213 yards, 0 TD, and 2 INT for a 56.8 rating. Do you remember Golden Tate catching only 1 pass for 1 yard? That seems like eons ago. Since then, Stafford has thrown 14 TD and only 1 INT in winning 7 of 8 games!
Detroit is favored by 7.5 points as of press time on Thursday and I tend to agree with the Las Vegas oddsmakers on this one. As well as Matt Barkley has been spinning the rock over the last two games, I think his first road start in his NFL career will be a loud one in Ford Field. Usually the Detroit crowd causes at least 2 false starts by Chicago’s offensive line. I would think the Lions will cause at least two takeaways and will cover the spread as a first place team at home versus a division rival. The Bears offense will struggle while Detroit’s offense, with the help of its defense giving it good field position, will take advantage of a Bears team running on fumes. There’s just too much momentum for the 1st place Lions in a home game in which they’re seeking revenge against an old nemesis. I’ll take Detroit with the points.
Detroit Lions 24 Chicago Bears 13