Here are five things to watch during tonight’s game between the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears that could help tell the story when this one is in the books.
1. Score at the half
The Detroit Lions have faced a halftime deficit in each of their first five games. They’ve been able to come back for the win in two games and showed a flair for the dramatic during their ten-win season a year ago. However, the Lions got down early in last year’s game in Chicago and things got ugly. Tonight would be a good time to head to the locker room with the lead for the first time.
The turnover battle is a huge component of any NFL game but it is particularly true when dealing with the Chicago Bears. The Bears rank first in the league with a +9 turnover differential (the Lions are -1) and they do a good job turning those into points, often without the offense even stepping onto the field. The Bears have returned an interception for a touchdown in three consecutive games, including two in each of their last two games. The Lions turned the ball over six times in Chicago a year ago to kill any chance of hanging in the game.
3. Lions against the pass
The Lions enter tonight’s game so thin at cornerback that Amari Spievey could be forced from his safety position to corner as situations dictate. That would bring Erik Coleman on the field to fill Spievey’s spot at safety next to Louis Delmas. Will those moving parts lead to breakdowns in the secondary? With Bill Bentley likely out of action, the best case scenario is that Chris Houston, Jonte Green and Alphonso Smith play well and the Bears don’t force the Lions into needing a fourth cornerback.
4. Special teams
Special teams play was much better against the Eagles but it still needs to be brought up given the looming matchup with Devin Hester. The Lions gave up a punt return for a touchdown to Hester a year ago as a result of poor punt placement. Will the Lions even give Hester a chance to touch the ball? I wouldn’t.
5. Pass rush
A strong pass rush was a huge key in last week’s win over the Eagles. Michael Vick wasn’t comfortable in the pocket and took hit after hit despite being sacked just three times. A similar effort could lead to the Jay Cutler that gets booed in Chicago. If not, it could be a long night for the Lions defense.
Those are five things I’ll be watching, what about you?