Andrew Weber/USA TODAY Sports

Bears-Lions Week 6 Ultimate Game Preview

More information than is probably necessary to prepare for Sunday's contest between the Chicago Bears (2-3) and the Detroit Lions (0-5).

Game Information

Who: Chicago Bears (2-3) at Detroit Lions (0-5)
Where: Ford Field
When: Noon CT
TV: FOX
Radio: WBBM Radio (780 AM & 105.9 FM)

Series History

The Bears and Lions will be meeting for the 171st time overall. The Bears hold a 96-69-5 advantage in the series, which dates back to 1930 when the Lions franchise was known as the Portsmouth Spartans. The Bears' 96 wins against the Lions are the moast against any single opponent.

The series with the Lions is the second longest in franchise history, behind only the 191 meetings with the Green Bay Packers.

The Lions have won the last four matchups between the two teams, including a 20-14 victory at Soldier Field in Week 13 last season. Before 2013, the Bears won nine of the previous 10 meetings.

Since 2004 there has been a season sweep by either team in 10 of the 11 years.

Sunday's contest will mark the second of four road contests over a five-game stretch for the Bears. On Monday, the Bears will enter the bye week before returning home to face the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, Nov. 1.

Bears-Lions Connections

- Bears offensive coordinator Adam Gase was with the Lions from 2003-07, first as a scouting assistant (2003-4) before joining the coaching staff as an offensive assistant (2005-06) while being named quarterbacks coach in 2007.

-Chicago defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and Detroit special teams coordinator Joe Marciano were on the same coaching staff with three different teams. The two first coached together with the Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars (USFL) from 1984-85 when Fangio was the team's defensive assistant and Marciano was a special teams/tight ends coach. They both joined the coaching staff in New Orleans in 1986 and coached together there until 1994 with Fangio working as the Saints linebackers coach and Marciano overseeing the special teams and tight ends. The two reconnected in Houston from 2002-05 when Fangio was the Texans defensive coordinator and Marciano was Houston's special teams coordintor.

-Bears linebackers coach Glenn Pires held the same title with the Lions from 2001-02.

-OLB Willie Young was a seventh-round pick (213th overall) of the Lions in 2010. Young started 15 of 48 games played over four seasons in Detroit (2010-13), picking up 72 tackles - including 11 tackles for loss and 6.0 sacks - 7 pass breakups and 2 fumble recoveries.

-Former Bears offensive tackle Jordan Mills, the club's 2013 fifth-round selection who started 29 games over two seasons in Chicago, is on Detroit's practice squad.

Head Coach Comparison

JOHN FOX JIM CALDWELL
121-92 (.568) Regular Season Record (pct.) 37-32 (.536)
8-7 Playoff Record 2-3
14th Years as NFL head coach 5th
1st Years as team's head coach 2nd
0-0 Career Head-to-Head 0-0
4-1 Career vs. Team 2-0

Injury Report

The following Bears players are listed as questionable:

TE Martellus Bennett (quad)
WR Alshon Jeffery (hamstring)
WR Eddie Royal (ankle)
OLB Pernell McPhee (shoulder)
WR Josh Bellamy (groin)
T Jermon Bushrod (shoulder)
OL Patrick Omameh (ankle)
DL Will Sutton (elbow)

Bennett hurt his quad during practice Thursday and did not practice on Friday. Jeffery has not played since Week 1 and was limited all this week but said Thursday the hamstring injury is healing.

"[I feel] a lot better than last week," Jeffery said. "We'll evaluate it."

The following Bears are doubtful:

S Antrel Rolle (ankle)
ILB Shea McClellin (knee)
DL Ego Ferguson (knee)
CB Terrance Mitchell (hamstring)

With McClellin almost certainly out, expect LaRoy Reynolds to start at inside linebacker, while Harold Jones-Quartey will start at safety in place of Rolle for the second week in a row.

For the Lions, the following players have been ruled out: 

DT Haloti Ngata (calf)
TE Eric Ebron (knee)
LB DeAndre Levy (hip)

Ngata is Detroit's run-stuffing presence inside, while Ebron is the club's top pass-catching tight end. Both are big losses. 

Questionable for the Lions: 

RB Joique Bell (ankle)
S Jame Ihedigbo (quad)
RB Theo Riddick (groin)

The following Lions are probable: 

DE Jason Jones (knee)
CB Darius Slay (hip)
DE Darryl Tapp (ankle)
WR Golden Tate (hip)
T LaAdrian Waddle (knee)
G Larry Warford (ankle)

Head-to-Head Comparison

BEARS (NFL RANK) LIONS (NFL RANK)
17.2 (28th) Points Scored 16.6 (30th)
316.4 (27th) Total Offense 321.4 (26th)
116.2 (16th) Rushing Offense 49.0 (32nd)
200.2 (T-27th) Passing Offense 272.4 (9th)
28.4 (28th) Points Allowed 27.6 (26th)
304.6 (4th) Total Defense 375.4 (22nd)
118.8 (24th) Rushing Defense 126.6 (27th)
185.8 (3rd) Passing Defense 248.8 (17th)
-3 (T-19th) Turnover Ratio -6 (30th)

The Cutler Files

Jay Cutler has led the team on two straight fourth-quarter comeback wins. It has been an impressive two-game stretch, especially with him playing on a bad hamstring with few healthy receivers and a patchwork offensive line.

“I didn’t know how competitive he was. That’s something that has really jumped out at me, how the toughness of coming back from this injury and playing as well as he has, that’s something that I love to see," offensive coordinator Adam Gase said this week. "I know our coaching staff really loved it and I think his teammates appreciated the fact that he battled back to help our team try to pull some victories out.”

With receivers Alshon Jeffery, Eddie Royal and Kevin White - as well as two-fifths of his offensive line - on the shelf against the Chiefs, Cutler completed 26 of 45 passes for 252 yards, 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions.

“Those guys have played pretty well," Cutler said. "I think in the first half I had to play better. Even the start of the third quarter, I could have played a little bit better. I was missing some throws. You know, those guys are doing everything we’re asking them to do. They’re playing hard. They’re in the right spots. It’s just a matter of us putting a few third downs together and getting on a little bit of a roll."

Backup RB Jacquizz Rodgers was placed on IR this week with a broken arm. LT Jermon Bushrod has been cleared from his concussion but is questionable due to a shoulder injury. Also questionable are Jeffery and Royal, as well as tight end Martellus Bennett, who was a late addition to this week's injury report. So things may not be any better for Cutler this week, who may once again have to backpack the offense to victory.

“It starts at the top. It starts with coach Fox. He does a great job with meetings and giving us kind of the direction we want to go, the team we’re gonna be, and letting us as leaders and players kind of take control of that," said Cutler. "The next guy up has always stepped up and came in and done a nice job, especially offensively, receiver-wise, offensive line-wise. We lost a running back. Quizz is gone. Some more guys have to step up and I think [Gase] does a great job as well of putting us in positions and making sure that everyone knows what they’re supposed to do on Sunday.”

Through 14 quarters, Cutler has completed just 60.2 percent of his passes (28th in the NFL) for 878 yards, 6 TDs and 3 INTs. His 85.6 QB rating is the third lowest of his career.

While his numbers don't jump off the page, much of that is due to the numerous injuries around him. In reality, Cutler is playing at a very high level, particularly when games have been on the line. He has three interceptions but two of those were the result of simple miscommunication with Martellus Bennett. Overall, Cutler has not put the ball in harm's way, which has been a trademark of his career. The head-scratching throws are few and far between, and he appears much more comfortable in the pocket and in the new offense, which could portend big things for the offense once it gets healthy.

Bears on Offense

Matchups to Watch

OT Kyle Long vs. DE Ziggy Ansah

Bears right tackle Kyle Long lamented this week the fact he won't get to face former Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh this week. Fortunately for him, he'll face nearly as tough a challenge from Ezekiel Ansah, who is one of best young edge rushers in the NFL. The 26-year-old leads the league with 5.0 sacks through five games and has been equally as good against the run. Long squared off against Justin Houston last week and did not give up a sack. He'll need to be just as stout this week, as Ansah presents a similar challenge.

WR Marquess Wilson vs. CB Darius Slay

Alshon Jeffery is questionable but there's a good chance he'll be able to play this week. If he does, Jeffery will likely be shadowed by Lions CB Rashean Mathis, who has been outstanding this season in coverage. The same can't be said for Darius Slay, who will see plenty of Marquess Wilson on Sunday. Slay has allowed three touchdowns on the season, while opposing passers have a 138.4 QB rating against, sixth worst in the NFL among cornerbacks. Wilson is coming off two straight games of six catches and 80-plus yards, and caught his first TD of the season last week. With so many pass catchers banged up, Wilson must take advantage of his matchups with Slay.

Keys on Offense

-TE Martellus Bennett (quad) may play but after suffering the injury on Thursday, he won't be 100 percent. If Bennett can't play or is limited, the onus will fall on backup TE Zach Miller to control the middle of the field on passing downs. Miller has just three catches for 35 yards this season but he's shown his pass-catching prowess in the past. The Lions have a pair of quality safeties in Glover Quin, who led the league in interceptions last season, and James Ihedigbo, so it will be tough sledding for Miller, who will likely be an integral part of the passing attack on Sunday.

-With Haloti Ngata out, the Lions are very weak along the interior of the defensive line. Defensive tackles Caraun Reid and Gabe Wright have stuggled to fill gaps at the line of scrimmage, which should lead to plenty of running room for Matt Forte, who finished Week 5 as the NFL leader in rushing yards (438). Forte is averaging nearly 24 touches per contest and is the clear thoroughbred for Adam Gase's offense. Don't expect that to change this week against a banged-up Lions front seven that has allowed more than 126 rushing yards per game.

-Whether it's Jermon Bushrod or Charles Leno at left tackle, Lions DE Jason Jones must not be ignored. Ansah can collapse the pocket from the oother side of the defense but if the Bears focus all their resources to stopping him, Jones will make them pay. Jones has 1.5 sacks on the year and has more QB hurries than Ansah (9 to 8).

Bears on Defense

Matchups to Watch

OLB Pernell McPhee vs. RT LaAdrian Waddle

McPhee has been borderling unstoppable the past three weeks. He leads the team with 3.0 sacks and he's one of the league leaders in QB pressures by 3-4 outside linebackers. He's also added an interception and a blocked field goal. On the flipside, Waddle leads all Lions blockers with 4 QB hits and 16 QB hurries allowed this season, despite starting just two games. Against Waddle, McPhee should be able to continue his hot streak, which is going to put a lot of pressure on QB Matthew Stafford, who has been a mess of turnovers this year.

CB Tracy Porter vs. WR Calvin Johnson

The Lions have struggled on offense this year, and that includes Calvin Johnson, who has yet to tally a 100-yard receiving game and has just one touchdown on the season. That's remarkable for a receiver who has caught 12 TDs or more in four of his previous eight NFL seasons. The Bears will likely shadown Johnson with Porter, who has served well as the club's No. 1 cornerback the last two games. Yet Porter has yet to face a receiver of Johnson's caliber, who is still extremely dangerous despite his relatively low numbers. If Porter can find a way to further Johnson's cold streak, Chicago's defense has a good shot at shutting down an anemic Lions offensive attack.

Keys on Defense

-Matthew Stafford leads the NFL with 8 interceptions. and he's earned every one of them. He's looked like one of the worst quarterbacks in the league so far this year and was benched last week after throwing three picks. The funny thing is, he's had good protection and has been sacked just seven times, which is tied for fifth fewest in the NFL. He has talented receivers in Megatron and Golden Tate and a shiny new running back in Ameer Abdullah, yet Stafford has stunk. If the Bears can pressure him regularly, he'll put the ball in harm's way, which could lead to some crucial takeaways for Chicago's defense.

-TE Eric Ebron is out due to a knee injury, which means Tim Wright will get plenty of looks as Detroit's pass-catching tight end. While not a household name, Wright has proven very capable on passing downs, particularly in the red zone - he average a TD every 4.3 catches last season. The Bears can't sleep on Wright or he'll make them pay down the seams.

-The Lions are the NFL's worst rushing team, averaging just 49.0 yards on the ground per contest. Yet Detroit has faced a murderer's row of defenses the past four weeks, which has skewed their offensive numbers. This group isn't as bad as their record or stats indicate, and that includes the run game, where Ameer Abdullah is an explosive young ball carrier. The Bears are allowing 118 rushing yards per game, so they must make sure to shut down Detroit's ground game early and put the weight of the offense on Stafford's shoulders - because that's when the fun begins.


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