Bears-Lions Keys to Victory

In what is expected to be a close game, minimizing mistakes will be crucial for both sides. What other factors will determine today's outcome? Take a closer look at the keys to the game.

Hold Onto the Ball
The Bears went without a turnover against the vaunted Baltimore defense a week ago. Kyle Orton has thrown four touchdowns and just one interception over the last three games.

Chicago forced five interceptions by QB Joey Harrington in the first matchup. The Lions have turned the offense over to veteran QB Jeff Garcia, who should help the unit. Still Lovie Smith has found a way to limit Garcia's success in previous meetings.

The Bears have a minus-one turnover takeaway ratio, while the Lions are plus-five.

Running Away from the Competition
Thomas Jones is averaging 106.8 yards per game on the ground. He began a streak of three straight games going over the century mark with 139 yards on 20 carries against Detroit. He has rushed for at least 89 yards in every contest except the season opener at Washington.

Jones appears to getting stronger as the game goes on. In the last three games he's run for more yards in the second half than the first.

Kevin Jones rushed for 1133 yards as a rookie and looked to take another step this season. It has yet to happen, he's averaging just 2.9 yards on 104 carries. He had 22 yards in the first meeting of the season with Chicago.

Game of Inches
Despite a 38-6 blowout by the Bears in Week 2, the two teams are evenly matched. There's a reason each side has had a difficult time closing out games. They're young and still learning how to win.

When healthy, the Lions have the better talent on offense. Defensively the Bears have a clear advantage, but Detroit's unit is climbing in league rankings.

The field position game could determine the outcome. Bobby Wade turned a 10-6 lead for the Bears into a comfortable 17-6 advantage with a 73-yard punt return for a touchdown. Eddie Drummond has been battling a knee injury and could sit. He averaged 26.5 yards on kickoffs in the first matchup and is a threat to break one at anytime.

Kicking it Up a Notch
Detroit has a kicker with 14 years experience and an 81.0 percent conversion rate, in Jason Hanson.

Conversely the Bears have had placekicker problems since midway through 2003. Paul Edinger was cut in favor of Doug Brien, who last just three games and has been replaced by an undrafted free agent.

Rookie Robbie Gould has a strong leg, as demonstrated by hang time and depth on kickoffs, but has hit on only 2-of-4 field goal attempts. He has had to kick in difficult conditions, including missing a 47-yard attempt in the cold rainy conditions of Soldier Field against the Ravens.

However, if Gould gets a chance to put the ball through the uprights inside the comfort of Ford Field he better do it.

Road Weary
The Bears have a five game losing streak on the road. The last time the team won away from Soldier Field came in back-to-back weeks at New York and Tennessee last year.

To be considered a legitimate playoff contender you have to be able to go to another team's home field and come out on top. It doesn't have to be every week, but a few victories are necessary. The Bears have already lost one game at home, meaning if they win out at Solider and don't win on the road they would finish 7-9.

While that may be good enough to win the NFC North, a win today would create breathing room.


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