The Chicago Bears have one last shot to stay alive in the NFC playoff race, but they must beat the Detroit Lions on Sunday to do it. The Lions have lost seven in a row, but even if Chicago extends that slide, the Bears will need help elsewhere to secure a postseason berth.
These three factors will go a long way toward deciding whether Chicago can earn its desperately-needed 10th victory:
1. Will Matthew Stafford give the game away?
During Detroit’s losing streak, Stafford has thrown as many interceptions (nine) as touchdowns. Having not found the end zone for two full games, it’s hard to believe that Stafford won’t be pressing a little to make plays in front of the home crowd.
Taking risks, however, is a great way to lose games against Chicago’s predatory defense. Detroit isn’t scoring enough points on offense to allow the Bear D to get in on the scoring action, especially after it outscored Arizona by itself (14-13) in last week’s game.
2. How healthy is the Chicago backfield?
With the 29th-best passing attack and ninth-best running game in the league, Chicago has been one-dimensional in the extreme. That one dimension is in jeopardy this week, thanks to injury concerns throughout the running back corps.
Matt Forte is listed as probable after tweaking his ankle against the Cardinals, but Armando Allen is questionable with a balky knee. With Michael Bush already done for the year, the Bears are one unlucky play away from having their entire offense go down in flames.
3. Will Mikel Leshoure be a difference-maker?
Back in October, Leshoure ran for 63 yards against a full-strength Bear defense on its home field. With Chicago likely missing some key run defenders, Leshoure has a chance for a big game, but he’s got to follow through on that potential.
Against a soft Atlanta run defense last week, Leshoure managed just 46 yards on his 15 carries. Another showing like that will ensure the continuation of Detroit’s losing skid.
Prediction: Chicago 17, Detroit 7
A struggling Stafford won’t get enough help from his injury-ravaged receiving corps, and the Bear defense will find the end zone yet again. Jay Cutler, meanwhile, will manage to avoid turnovers against the unremarkable Lion secondary, getting just enough support from the banged-up ground game to secure the victory.
Wherer To Watch Online: Bears at Lions