Sunday in the Windy City, two slumping teams will clash in an NFC North showdown. The Detroit Lions (4-7) will play their first game following the firing of head coach Matt Patricia, going up against the Chicago Bears (5-6), who desperately need a win to break their five-game losing streak.
Here is a preview for the Week 13 game between the Lions and Bears, complete with a free pick. Chicago is favored in this game for just the second time all season, coming in at -3.5.
These teams met in Detroit back in Week 1, and it was a memorable affair, to say the least. After three quarters, the Lions led the game 23-6, and still led by 10 with under three minutes to go. But the Bears stormed back and scored the game-winning touchdown with 1:54 to go to win 27-23.
The game is also remembered for a dropped ball in the end zone by Lions rookie running back D'Andre Swift, which would've given the lead back to Detroit with six seconds to go in regulation.
Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky had his best starts of the season, finishing the game with 242 yards and three touchdowns, while Lions QB Matthew Stafford threw for nearly 300 yards.
This week is the start of change for the Lions franchise. Following a quick 1-3 start, Patricia's seat got very hot early on. Back-to-back wins and an improvement to .500 helped a little bit, but disaster struck in November. Detroit lost four of their last five games, three of those to sub-.500 teams, and the latest a home blowout on Thanksgiving by the Texans.
Last week's loss is the one that did Patricia in, along with general manager Bob Quinn. Now, with five games remaining and the playoffs more than likely out of reach, interim coach Darrell Bevell will hope to help this group finish strong and perhaps play spoiler against several playoff-bound teams.
Starting on offense, Detroit sits at just under 23 points per game, 22nd in the NFL. They average 367 yards per game, 18th in football, but have fared much better passing than running, where they are in the bottom-six in average yards per game. Thanks to an inconsistent running game, the Lions are also just 25th in football with a third-down conversion percentage just below 40 percent.
But the main reason the Lions are just 4-7 this season is a defense that is a bottom-five unit in the whole league. Only one team allows more than Detroit's 29.8 points per game, and only three teams give up more than their near-409 yards. The Lions rank about the same when it comes to passing and rushing yards allowed, and let opponents convert on 55 percent of third-down attempts.
Additionally, Detroit has struggled to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. They have just 16 sacks as a team, the sixth-fewest in the NFL, as well as seven interceptions.
Not too long ago, the Bears got out to a 3-0 start. A couple of weeks later, they were 5-1 and sitting atop the entire NFC. But since that point, Chicago has dropped their last five games to fall below .500 for the first time this season. In three of those losses, they were held to 17 or fewer points, and they lost their last two games against division rivals in primetime.
Now, as head coach Matt Nagy's seat starts to get hotter with every passing week, and Trubisky continuing to start ahead of the injured Nick Foles, the Bears are desperate for a win if they have any chance of making it back to the postseason after missing out last season.
Much like Detroit as a problem with their defense, Chicago's offense is one of the worst in football. The Bears are scoring 19.6 points per game, 29th in the NFL, while also averaging the third-fewest total yards with 325. Their 82 rushing yards per game are a league-low, while their 31.7 percent success rate on third down is the second-worst.
The Bears' defense has been good, but not necessarily the great unit it needs to be to overcome their offensive woes. Chicago is allowing just 22.7 points per game, eighth in the NFL, and sits just inside the top-10 with 357 total yards allowed. They're also third when it comes to third-down defense, holding opponents to a 35 percent conversion rate. However, Chicago is not getting to the quarterback as much as people thought they would, racking up only 21 teams sacks. Their six interceptions are also tied for the fourth-fewest in the league.
Detroit is 4-7 both straight up and against the spread, but they are 3-3 ATS on the road. But the Bears give them fits, as the Lions are 0-5 straight up against Chicago in their last five meetings, covering just once. They're also 1-4 ATS in their previous five games against any of the three other NFC North teams.
As for Chicago, their 5-6 record also matches their mark ATS, which includes a 2-3 mark at home. However, the Bears have covered just once during their five-game losing streak, and have also struggled to the tune of a 1-5 record ATS in their last six NFC North games.
With Detroit having a new coach and Chicago in critical need of a victory, this should be an interesting game on the Sunday slate of games for Week 13. One interesting note is that both the Falcons and Texans, the two other teams who fired their coach mid-season, won their first game afterward and have played significantly better since the coaching changes.
Between that and Chicago's total inability to functioning offensively, I think Detroit is very capable of pulling off the upset at Soldier Field. Also, they have the advantage at quarterback and were good enough to build a 17-point lead against the Bears back in Week 1. Give me the Lions and the points in this one.
Free Pick: Detroit Lions (+3.5).