The King is dead, long live the (interim) King!
The first game since the Detroit Lions has cleaned house is here.
Interim HC Darrell Bevell faces his first battle on the short road to being viewed as a viable contender to the full-time position (which he isn't being viewed as at the moment).
In his way is a Chicago Bears team which couldn't be more like historic Bears teams of the past, with an excellent defense and struggling to find any semblance of offense. 5 straight losses leave the front office possibly one game from the sack, so they will be desperate to get a result against a wounded Lions team still even now reeling from the Week 1 comeback loss against the same opponent.
The Lions are going to be hampered by starting CB Desmond Trufant and starting DT Danny Shelton being placed on IR, but welcome back TE Hunter Bryant off long term injury since preseason and DT Kevin Strong has been promoted from the practice squad after being the subject of temporary elevation under the Covid procedures in recent weeks. CB Darryl Roberts and 3rd round draft pick DE Julian Okwara are back at practice but are still on IR for now but could be activated before the game.
For Chicago, James Vaughters is ruled out, but they have many vital pieces who are also questionable, including Khalil Mack who only practiced Friday, Allen Robinson who was limited on Friday, Darnell Mooney who did not practice Friday and Akiem Hicks was limited on Thursday and Friday. The game will change greatly depending on which of these make the field.
Where the game is won
This game is going to come down to a few different things - firstly:
1) Can the Lions have the semblance of a run game?
Chicago struggled against the Green Bay rushing attack in their most recent game. The Lions should see star 2nd round pick D'Andre Swift back, albeit in a limited role since his recent concussion. Can Kerryon Johnson and Adrian Peterson assist him and control the clock?
EDIT: Swift has since been downgraded to doubtful and is not likely to see the field, requiring KJ and AP to carry even more of the load.
2) Can the Lions defense perform better without Matt Patricia holding the leash?
The defense for too long has been a "bend not break" defense, which often appeared similar to a prevent defense. You cannot give a pocket passer like Trubisky, who will start on Sunday, to get into rhythm or he will burn the Lions like he did in Q4 or week 1.
To do this, the secondary will need to play tight to the receivers and not allow too much separation. This will require a little bit more press coverage than they have been playing to create some pressure something a bit different.
The D line will need to get penetration through this porous Bears O-line and not give Mitch too much time to throw - let's get him seeing ghosts.
Vegas thinks that the Bears win this by 3 in a low scoring affair (o/u 44.5). ESPN has the Lions at about 35%. I think this is a battle between two well-matched teams. I'm going to flip the script on Vegas and call it a 2 point Lions win, 33-31. I'm going over the Vegas line because I don't think the Chicago defense will stop the Lions, likewise for the Detroit defense and Chicago's offense.
How do you think it's going to go? Comment below or hit us up on the socials.