Five things the Detroit Lions (4-11) must do to beat the Chicago Bears (9-6) on Sunday at Ford Field. Kickoff is 1 p.m.
1. Get the ball to Calvin Johnson. Seriously. In the first match-up on Oct. 22 at Soldier Field, Johnson had just three catches for 34 yards, his lowest production this season. If the Lions are going to win, Johnson needs to have a big day because his supporting cast has drastically changed in the last two months. Johnson needs 108 yards to reach the magical 2,000-yard mark. With 104 yards he can become the most productive receiver on a per-game basis in a season.
2. In their first meeting when the Bears won 13-7, the Lions defense sacked Jay Cutler five times and had nine quarterback hits. The Bears’ offensive line is no better, so taking advantage of the weak area is key for the Lions front four who had three of the five sacks on Oct. 22. Cliff Avril, who had one of the sacks, was surprised to hear this statistic, but it’s a fact and they need to do it again to have a chance.
3. Even though the Lions are 4-11 and not going anywhere but home next week, they need the fans’ help to make Ford Field too loud for the Bears to hear. Remember that 24-13 Monday night win over Chicago in 2011 (seems much longer ago, doesn’t it), Detroit fans were serious and caused nine false starts. Of course they had much more to cheer for then. With that win the Lions started the season 5-0. Now they’re trying to snap a seven-game losing streak.
4. Hold onto the ball. The Lions fumbled six times, losing three in the first match-up this year at Chicago. Two of the lost fumbles were in the red zone. Need I say more? It was rainy, but the Bears had zero fumbles. The Bears defense is excellent at stripping the ball away. It’s not an accident they swarm the ball on every play.
5. Play like it’s the first game of the season, not the 16th.
Prediction: Lions 24, Bears 17