The Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions game on Thanksgiving will be played under some unique circumstances mixed with a backdrop of desperation.
The Lions are trying to keep their limited playoff chances alive. Their win last week was a big boost but it seems like that victory was a costly one as well. Meanwhile the Bears have finally seized a better grip on the NFC North only to see one of their key players knocked out of action with injury. It’s coming down to which of these teams can deliver under less-than-ideal conditions. One has home field. The other is a bit healthier.
Here’s a rundown of how the game is shaping up and what’s likely to happen.
Which Lions team shows up? – Detroit has been one of the most rollercoaster teams in the NFL this year. One week they beat a playoff contender, the next they get blown out. They were crushed by Chicago two weeks ago and then found a way to beat the surging Carolina Panthers last week. It’s impossible to know for sure which team shows up, especially on a short turnaround.
Surviving a record turnaround – Speaking of that, the Bears are in the midst of playing their third game in 12 days. They’ll have fulfilled an NFL record by game time having playing on Sunday night just 85 hours before. It is the quickest turnaround between games in league history. That’s a lot to ask of a team who is trying to maintain control of the division.
Mitch Trubisky (QB) – That turnaround is also forcing the Bears into a tough decision by sitting their starting quarterback. Trubisky injured his throwing shoulder against Minnesota. He would likely play if the game were on Sunday but the rapid turnaround to Detroit is too little time for him to rest it. So the Bears have decided to go with backup Chase Daniel.
Marvin Jones (WR) – Matthew Stafford will be by far the more accomplished QB in this game, but his arsenal of weapons is seriously depleted now. Kerryon Johnson was already out with a knee injury. Wide receiver Marvin Jones will join him, robbing the Lions of just over 39% of their offensive production against one of the best defenses in the NFL.
Allen Robinson vs. Darius Slay – The Lions didn’t have Slay in the previous game in Chicago and it showed. Robinson had his way with their secondary, going over 100 yards and scoring two touchdowns. Slay will be needed to slow him down, which won’t be easy because he’s been nursing a knee injury but his presence will be most welcome.
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Taylor Decker vs. Khalil Mack – Everybody remembers the star Bears pass rusher literally running over the Lions left tackle two weeks ago to sack Stafford. Now Decker will have to tangle with Mack on a fast track. No crowd noise will be a help but then again Mack isn’t the type to let advantages linger for an opponent. Decker can’t afford a breakdown.
Taylor Gabriel (WR) – Dome stadiums are the type that tends to favor the fastest players the most. Gabriel is one of the fastest players in the NFL and has been itching to hit a big play for the past couple of weeks. This game presents the best opportunity yet against a pair of safeties that have struggled of late. The question will be can Daniel get the ball to him down the field?
Theo Riddick (RB) – Johnson being out creates big problems for the Lions ground game. That makes it almost certain they’ll be throwing the ball most of the game. Riddick is a player who remains a dangerous threat out of the backfield with his speed and quickness. They could use him to pop some big plays and maybe get that defense on its heels.
Prediction: Bears win 19-16
This game absolutely reeks of being a sloppy, defensive affair. Both offenses are badly banged up with Chicago missing their QB and Detroit missing two of their biggest weapons. It’s a game that could feature the kickers prominently. In these situations, it seems the Lions have had a ton of good luck on their side. Cody Parkey missed four the last time he faced them. However, this time he does his job and narrowly helps the Bears outlast the Lions in a close one.