The Detroit Lions (4-7) are moving on without head coach Matt Patricia after he was fired following the team’s embarrassing 41-25 loss on Thanksgiving. The Chicago Bears (5-6) are not faring much better, coming off their own 41-25 loss on Sunday to the Packers. Chicago has lost five in a row.
Detroit Lions vs. Chicago Bears
Sunday, December 6, 2020 – 01:00 PM EDT at Soldier Field
The Bears are a 3-point favorite at most betting sites. These teams met in Week 1. Detroit led 23-6 in the fourth quarter before Mitchell Trubisky threw three touchdown passes in a 27-23 win. Matthew Stafford watched a game-winning touchdown pass get dropped in the end zone by rookie back D’Andre Swift.
Will the Lions Suddenly Play Better?
Matt Patricia is the third head coach fired this season, following Dan Quinn (Falcons) and Bill O’Brien (Texans). Both of those teams won their first game with their interim coach and have played better overall since the firing. Will the Lions follow that trend with offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell assuming the interim duties?
Detroit really should have won that Week 1 meeting with Chicago, but “should have won” was a common outcome in the Patricia era. The Lions also blew double-digit leads to the Packers and Saints this year.
Detroit’s last four losses have all been by 14-plus points, but division games are always tougher. Stafford is 4-2 in his last six starts in Chicago. He has not thrown the ball well in his last three starts against the Bears, who still boast one of the better pass defenses this season (No. 8 in DVOA) despite a bad performance against Aaron Rodgers on Sunday night.
It would make things easier for Stafford if he could get his skilled players back. Kenny Golladay (hip), Danny Amendola (hip), and D’Andre Swift (concussion) have missed multiple games in a row. Golladay would be the biggest help as the team’s best receiver. He had 158 yards and a touchdown on Thanksgiving against the Bears last year.
You have to keep an eye on the injury report for this offense. The chances of a Detroit upset improve if Golladay can return, but it does not sound good for him.
Mitchell Trubisky: Still Bad
On the surface, some of Mitchell Trubisky’s stats do not look so bad in his return to the starting quarterback job on Sunday night against the Packers. However, he gave up a strip-sack for a touchdown, threw two awful interceptions, and most of his yards and touchdowns were in garbage time in the 41-25 loss. Through three quarters, Trubisky led the Bears to a net of three points.
If there’s some good news, it’s Trubisky’s recent history against the Detroit defense. Since 2018, Trubisky is 4-0 against the Lions and threw three touchdown passes in all four games. Most of those wins were still close (three by one score), but if there is a defense Trubisky has some semblance of competency facing, it is Detroit. However, that is just another one of the many reasons Patricia is no longer employed by the team.
Detroit’s defense looked absolutely lost on Thanksgiving against the Texans. The Lions have allowed the second-most points in the league this year, though if there is a quirk in the numbers, all four games in which Detroit allowed fewer than 24 points have come on the road where they will be this week. Unfortunately, firing Patricia and promoting an offensive coordinator is unlikely to change much on defense when a lack of talent still persists.
If there was one bright spot to Chicago’s loss in Green Bay, David Montgomery had a 57-yard run. That helped the Bears rush for over 100 yards for the first time since Week 3 when the team was 3-0. That feels like a very long time ago as this losing streak continues.
These are two bad teams who know each other well, which should lead to a competitive, close game. Chicago’s defense is the best unit in this game, but as we have seen far too often, its defense can be unreliable week to week in the NFL. It did not help that Akiem Hicks was out on Sunday and is questionable again this week with a hamstring injury.
The biggest problem is still Chicago’s inept offense, which is why this game should not be a runaway. All of Chicago’s wins this year have been by 1-to-7 points. Stafford’s experience against this defense should keep the game winnable. Detroit has scored at least 20 points in all but one game this season.
Look for the Lions to put on a better effort now that the cantankerous coach is gone, and I would include Detroit in my best NFL picks this weekend.