The Detroit Lions are ready for another challenge and hungry to try and lock down their first win of the season. They will have the chance to do just that against the Chicago Bears, who come in reeling a bit as well.
Though they have a win so far this season, it can be argued that the 1-2 Bears have looked worse than the 0-3 Lions in stretches. Detroit has competed in every game and looked close to winning, while the Bears have gone through the motions at times.
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Regardless of that, the teams will get to settle things on the field once again for the first time in the rivalry. What will be the keys to the game? Here’s a look at some important things to remember that will help in determining the outcome this week.
Lions’ Defensive Line vs. Bears’ Offensive Line
The Lions have to find a way to continue the theme of Week 3, which was pressure on the quarterback. Detroit managed to heat up the pocket and secure 4 sacks against the notoriously slippery Lamar Jackson. This week, the Lions aren’t sure who they will face between Andy Dalton, Justin Fields or Nick Foles. No matter who is on the field, the team is going to have to find a way to churn out some more pocket pressure, because it will help a defensive backfield in peril in a major way. Chicago’s front hasn’t been good, so this will be a great opportunity to bring the heat some more.
D’Andre Swift vs. Bears’ Linebackers
Swift has proved hard to tackle so far this season, and the Lions have unleashed him mostly in the passing game so far. That’s going to put a premium on tackling for the Bears linebackers, who have to be focused not only on their keys up front, but against Swift as well. At times, Swift has looked like a pure game breaker for the Lions, and if the team can unleash him more, it will be to their benefit on the field this week offensively. Swift may be primed for a bigger role, and if the Lions give it to him, he could be very tough to stop.
Quintez Cephus vs. Bears’ Defensive Backs
Last season, Cephus scored his first career touchdown against the Bears on a beautiful pass, and has gone for 106 yards and a score against Chicago in his career. Thus far this season, Cephus has been Detroit’s best answer to a big play, but he sees the ball far too inconsistently. The Lions need to find a way to unleash Cephus against a backfield which has been very strong to start the season. Detroit’s passing offense needs more big plays, and Cephus could be a big key to unlocking that if the team is able to get him going again.
Robert Quinn and Khalil Mack vs. Detroit’s Offensive Line
Thus far this season, the Lions have gotten things off to a strong start in terms of the team’s ability to protect, having allowed just 2 sacks in 136 pass attempts. While that number is good, the Lions’ front will be tested in a big way by a couple players who have 6.5 sacks between them this year. In the past, Detroit has seen close games die in Chicago by virtue of the Bears’ pass rush. Making sure the Lions can get things in order up front and protect Jared Goff will be a big key to success on offense this week, and the Bears will provide a stiff challenge to what has been one of the better lines in football so far.
Dan Campbell vs. Matt Nagy
It’s hard to ignore the elephant in the room this week, and that’s the fact that both these coaches feel like they are trending in very opposite directions. Nagy feels like he is a few more losses away from the hot seat, while Campbell feels like he is in full command of the best 0-3 team in the NFL that is primed for a breakout in the future. Seeing who finds a way to have the upper hand in this matchup on both sides of the ball will be key. A loss by the Bears could only fan the flames of folks who want to see Nagy gone in Chicago.