How about this for a start? Score
The Bears can climb out of the NFC North cellar with a win over the Lions. A loss, however, would be the team’s fifth straight and would further darken a mood that has soured considerably during the surprising skid. With that in mind, here’s a look at our three keys.
Find a way to be sharp offensively right away. The Bears’ slow starts have been alarming. In eight games, they have scored only once on their opening possession: a touchdown in Week 4 against the Vikings. They punted on their other seven opening drives, with three of those series not producing a single first down. Furthermore, during this four-game losing streak, the Bears haven’t scored a first-half touchdown and have averaged 15 yards per possession on 23 drives before halftime. That is unacceptable ineptitude that has challenged everybody’s patience and threatened to create a contagious mental strain. “It’s a hurdle we’ve all mentally got to get over,” coach Matt Nagy said. “That’s the hardest part. It’s human nature to say, ‘Here we go again.’ That’s where we’ve got to be strong.” With an edgy home crowd awaiting them, the Bears can’t afford another listless start.
Buckle down on the back end.
Through eight games, Lions receivers Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay have combined for 77 catches, 1,175 yards and 13 touchdowns. Their big-play ability has been consistent and will pose a test for the Bears secondary. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has developed great trust in his top two receivers, willing to give them chances to make plays down the field. But that also should give the Bears defensive backs an opportunity to make plays on the ball. The Bears intercepted Stafford four times in two games last year. The Lions have completed an NFL-best 41 passes for at least 20 yards. Limiting that downfield damage will be crucial.
Attack the weakest link. Lions right tackle Rick Wagner is vulnerable, the least reliable starter on an ordinary offensive line. That should open up opportunities for Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd to get after Stafford on a consistent basis. In last season’s meeting at Soldier Field, the Bears sacked Stafford six times in a 34-22 win. Mack and Floyd each beat Wagner for sacks in that game.
The Bears defense could use a flood of big plays to help turn the momentum. It would help if they could play with a lead for an extended period. Regardless, getting after Wagner should be a priority.