Lions look to stay undefeated in NFC North

Jalen Reeves Maybin Lions
Photo Credit Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions have won two in a row and look to continue their winning ways as they go into Chicago this Sunday versus the 3-6 Bears. The Lions won the last meeting between the two teams (Week 14 of 2016) but lost the most recent meeting in Chicago (Week four of 2016). Chicago has passed the reigns of the offense onto rookie Mitchell Trubisky and so far the results have been middle of the road. Flashes of his big-play ability are there, followed up by rookie mistakes and misreads, all of which are fully expected for the #2 overall pick of the most recent NFL draft.
Here is an analysis of the matchup between these two NFC North foes followed by a prediction based on the winner of the most matchups. The categories used are Quarterback, Running Back, Receiver, Offensive Line, Defensive Pressure, Run Defense, Pass Defense, Turnover Battle and Momentum. The leader of the most categories should, in theory, win the game.

Quarterback: Matthew Stafford
Stafford has a touchdown to interception ratio of 6:1 over the last two games, and as a result the Lions have scored 68 points. He has full control of the offense and I do not expect the road conditions to affect him enough for Trubisky to overtake him this week.

Running Back: Bears
The two-headed monster of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen are the one portion of this Chicago Bears team that should have Detroit Lions players worried. Howard and Cohen are two of the best young running backs in the league, and together they have Chicago inside the top 10 in rushing. Meanwhile, Detroit’s backfield just surpassed 100 yards rushing versus the Browns, but the inconsistency gives the Bears the advantage here.

Receivers: Lions
Golden Tate, Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay, and TJ Jones make one of the strongest receiving depth charts in the NFL. Add in Eric Ebron and Darren Fells at tight end, along with a backfield that is in the top 10 in running back receptions, the Lions have the clear edge here. Chicago’s receiving core is much too injured and inexperienced to overtake the Lions.

Offensive Line: Bears
Detroit’s offensive line has allowed 30 sacks, and the running game is averaging under 3.5 yards per carry. Chicago’s offensive line has allowed 24 sacks and the running game is averaging 4.2 yards per carry. I believe in the long run, Detroit’s offensive line is more talented, but the stats do not lie. Detroit does have Taylor Decker returning to health and TJ Lang is expected to be back after missing last week with a concussion, but I have to roll with Chicago. This battle is by far the closest one on the offensive side.

Defensive Pressure: Bears
The Detroit Lions have 20 sacks on the season, where the Chicago Bears have 26 sacks. According to footballoutsiders.com, The Chicago Bears are number 2 in defensive pressure so far this season through further statistical analysis. The good news here is that Matthew Stafford likes to get the ball out fast when pressure is steady from the defense. The Detroit offensive line versus the Chicago front is the key factor to watch this week. I would look for Anthony Zettel to continue his strong play this season, but the Lions will need someone to step on that line to make the difference.

Run Defense: Tie
Detroit and Chicago both give up about four yards per carry on defense, and are ranked very close to one another on footballoutsiders.com after statistical analysis. Running downhill is an important trait when teams play on the sloppy turf of Soldier Field. This is an important battle.

Pass Defense: Lions
The Detroit Lions are an extremely opportunistic defense, as shown by their 11 interceptions this season. Compared to Chicago’s four interceptions, Detroit has the upper hand here. Not to mention the Lions will be taking on a rookie quarterback for the second straight week. Darius Slay (four interceptions), Glover Quin (three interceptions), and the rest of the ball-hawking defensive backfield of the Lions will look to confuse Mitchell Trubisky into making some tough throws.

Turnover Battle: Lions
Detroit is 3rd in the NFL with a +7 turnover margin, whereas Chicago is 25th with a -5 margin. Detroit does not turn the ball over often, and their defense forces turnovers often. Advantage Lions here.

Momentum: Lions
The Lions offense has exploded for 1,244 offensive yards in the last three games. They have won their last two, both games scoring 30 or more points. Meanwhile, Chicago has lost two consecutive games and are in need of a bounce back. Their offense has failed to score more than 20 points in three consecutive games. Lions have the momentum battle won for sure.

Result: Lions 5.5 – Bears 3.5

The Detroit Lions are the better team going into Sunday. There is more experience and depth and the Lions should be much healthier, with the likes of TJ Lang, Taylor Decker, and potentially Ziggy Ansah returning to the field fully healthy. This is a game Detroit should win, regardless of the fact that it is on the road.

Prediction: Lions 31 – Bears 23

The Detroit defense has not shown an ability to slow teams down statistically, but they do know how to force turnovers. Trubisky and the run offense have a strong day, rushing for 150 plus yards. However, the Bears lose the turnover battle and Detroit has a 100 yard rusher for the first time since Reggie Bush. Lions move to 6-4, 3-0 in the division and will take on the Minnesota Vikings for first place in the division on Thanksgiving Day.

All statistics are via footballoutsiders.com and espn.com
All images are not owned or copyright by Blue HQ Media, but are screenshots from Pro Football Focus or espn.com