1. Complete passes to open guys. While the Lions are allowing the fourth-fewest passing yards per game in the NFL (214.6), this isn’t a very good pass defense: They rank 30th in passing defense DVOA and have the third-worst coverage grade by Pro Football Focus. Six of the eight quarterbacks to face the Lions have had a passer rating of 108 or higher, including Russell Wilson, who had a perfect 158.3 rating while only throwing for 248 yards on Oct. 28. Wilson and Kirk Cousins both completed over 80 percent of their passes against this defense. And, on top of all this: Darius Slay, Detroit’s best cornerback, will miss Sunday’s game. Mitch Trubisky’s accuracy has waned in his last three games (54.5 percent), but he’ll need to connect with a group of receivers that should be running open for most of the afternoon.
2. Pack your Kerryon. It’s not a coincidence that running back Kerryon Johnson’s three best games have come in Detroit’s three wins (16 carries/101 yards vs. New England, 12 carries/70 yards vs. Green Bay, 19 carries/158 yards at Miami). In Detroit’s last two games — which they’ve lost by a combined 29 points — Johnson has totaled 59 yards on 20 carries, though. With starting left guard T.J. Lang out on Sunday, this should be a good opportunity for Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman to own the interior and make the Lions one-dimensional. While Matthew Stafford has had success against the Bears in recent years, he was sacked 10 times last week and forcing him into third-and-longs should allow Khalil Mack and this pass rush to make an impact.
3. Make plays when it counts. Stafford is 5-1 against the Bears since Vic Fangio became the team’s defensive coordinator, with some gaudy numbers behind it: 145/216 (67 percent), 1,675 yards (279.2 yards/game), 12 TDs, 5 INTs, 99.2 passer rating. And since he threw four picks against the Jets in Week 1, Stafford has largely been good, completing 69.6 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns and only two interceptions. In the absence of turnovers or 10 sacks, the Bears need to succeed on third down and/or hold the Lions to field goals. The good news: Detroit is a middle-of-the-road offense on converting third downs (40 percent) and is among the league’s worst at turning red zone possessions into touchdowns (44.4 percent, fourth-worst).
Prediction: Bears 27, Lions 16. The Bears’ defense is good enough to hold the Lions to a single touchdown and a few field goals, while the offense takes advantage of Slay’s absence and cruises to a comfortable win.