8:30 PM ET, October 22, 2012
Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
Sitting atop the NFC North, the Chicago Bears appear anything but satisfied with plenty of football still to come.
Having pulled out a much-needed win last weekend, the last-place Detroit Lions are hoping to take another step in the right direction Monday night.
Looking to pick up where they left off before their bye, the Bears try to continue their recent domination of the Lions as these division rivals square off in what could be another intense showdown at Soldier Field.
Chicago (4-1) has had its way with Detroit (2-3) of late, taking seven of eight in the series -- including a 37-13 home win Nov. 13. The teams got into a sideline-clearing fight in that game after Matthew Stafford ripped off D.J. Moore's helmet during Tim Jennings' interception return.
"There's always going to be bad blood," Jennings told the team's official website. "Just the fact that we're Chicago and they're Detroit, and they're in our division and we know we have to go through one another to get to that championship that we need to get to, there's always going to be bad blood with them."
The Lions figure to have trouble ending their woes in this series if the Bears' recent efforts are any indication. Chicago outscored Jacksonville 38-0 in the second half of a 41-3 road win Oct. 7, extending its winning streak to three behind another superb defensive display.
"I just know that we need to keep it going. Guys realize ... taking the ball away is a part of a good defensive game for us," said coach Lovie Smith, whose team is allowing an NFL-low 14.2 points per contest. "We can't wait for them to turn the ball over. We have to go and get it. I think the last couple weeks or so, I think defensively we have scored about as many as the defense has given up. I think it's just a mindset. We have guys that have been around here a long time."
The Bears, who moved into sole possession of first place with Minnesota's 38-26 loss at Washington, sit one-half game ahead of the Vikings and two in front of the Lions.
"Our division took a step up," Smith said. "But as I told the team ... none of that really matters for us. We like the position we're in. Any week you have to be ready to go to play your best football. That's what I saw from (last) weekend. Teams that played 60 minutes or more end up winning the football game.
"Detroit, this week ... I'm sure they've been waiting for this game for a long time."
Coming off their bye, the Lions -- trailing by 10 with just over five minutes remaining in regulation -- appeared headed for a fourth consecutive loss before clawing their way back to win 26-23 in overtime at Philadelphia last Sunday. Jason Hanson connected on the game-winning field goal in OT, his fourth of the afternoon.
The Lions overcame 16 penalties, becoming the first team to win with that many since Cincinnati's 17 in a 37-8 win over Minnesota on Sept. 18, 2005.
"I think it was a big step for us as a team, playing team football today and it was a lot of spirit and guys picking each other up," coach Jim Schwartz told the team's official website. "I think that's a good sign of things to come for this team."
Stafford threw for 311 yards with a touchdown and an interception while safety Louis Delmas -- making his season debut following knee surgery -- had one of the Lions' two picks.
Detroit didn't pick off a pass in its first four games.
"Turnover ratio is well-documented as being part of success," Schwartz said. "But I think we need to worry about executing schemes, making plays, those kind of things. And when you do, you'll take care of the football and also you'll have a chance to get the football."
While Detroit is allowing 3.7 yards per carry -- 10th in the league -- it could have its hands full with Matt Forte. The Pro Bowl back has given the Lions fits over the last eight games in this series, compiling 975 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns.
Jay Cutler, meanwhile, has thrown 10 touchdowns and one interception while posting a 105.4 rating in his six games against the Lions in a Bears uniform.
Chicago, 8-2 on Monday night under Smith, has outscored Detroit by an average of 14.3 points during a four-game home winning streak.
More from ESPN.com
Innocuous tweet sets off epic Panthers-Bears Twitter thread
Even Panthers coach Ron Rivera got involved in the lengthy exchange, which included plenty of cat and bear GIFs.
Lions LB Levy back on field for OTAs
Detroit Lions LB DeAndre Levy said he is still rehabbing but expects to be cleared to fully hit by the time training camp begins and should be ready for the season opener against Indianapolis.
Lions-Bears: What to watch
After watching film of both teams, Scouts Inc. breaks down key elements of the Week 7 Lions-Bears matchup.
• How will Chicago defend Detroit's passing game? In recent weeks, Lions QB Matthew Stafford has seen a lot of deep zones and almost no man-to-man coverage. This happens because defenses do not respect the threat of the run, so they don't have to crowd the box. Chicago likely will do the same by staying in its Cover 2 and forcing Stafford to put together long drives with short passes. Kevin Smith gives the Lions a little explosiveness as a runner or receiver, and if they can get RB Mikel Leshoure back on the field, it could force the Bears to rethink exclusive Cover 2 looks.
Recent Blog Posts
- Lions adapting to not having 'safety net' Calvin Johnson on offense
- How will Abdullah's labrum surgery affect his performance?
- Lions move on to life without Calvin Johnson
|Avg Points Allowed||25.0||13.0|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||DET|
|Rush Yds Allowed||DET|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Chicago leads 17-7|
|Nov 13, 2011||DET 13, @CHI 37|
|Oct 10, 2011||DET 24, CHI 13|
|Dec 5, 2010||DET 20, CHI 24|
|Sep 12, 2010||DET 14, @CHI 19|
|Jan 3, 2010||DET 23, CHI 37|
|Oct 4, 2009||DET 24, @CHI 48|
|Nov 2, 2008||DET 23, @CHI 27|
|Oct 5, 2008||DET 7, CHI 34|
|Oct 28, 2007||DET 16, @CHI 7|
|Sep 30, 2007||DET 37, CHI 27|
|Dec 24, 2006||DET 21, CHI 26|
|Sep 17, 2006||DET 7, @CHI 34|
|Oct 30, 2005||DET 13, CHI 19|
|Sep 18, 2005||DET 6, @CHI 38|
|Dec 26, 2004||DET 19, CHI 13|
|Sep 12, 2004||DET 20, @CHI 16|
|Nov 9, 2003||DET 12, CHI 10|
|Oct 26, 2003||DET 16, @CHI 24|
|Nov 24, 2002||DET 17, @CHI 20|
|Oct 20, 2002||DET 23, CHI 20|
|Dec 30, 2001||DET 0, CHI 24|
|Dec 2, 2001||DET 10, @CHI 13|
Only 17.2 percent of Matt Forte's rushes this season have gone outside the tackles, compared to 35.0 percent last season. Since the start of last season, Forte has averaged 6.1 yards per rush outside the tackles, second-best among running backs with 50 such runs.
Matthew Stafford has taken time to warm up this season, with over 26 percent of his first quarter passes falling incomplete due to an under or overthrown incompletion. Stafford's off-target rate has declined each subsequent quarter this season. Last season, Stafford's quarter-by-quarter rates never exceeded 18.0 percent.[+]
Matthew Stafford Pct of Off-Target Passes - By Quarter This Season
Calvin Johnson is the only Lions player to catch at least 50 percent of his targets from Matthew Stafford more than 10 yards downfield this season. Johnson has one of the Lions' league-high seven drops on such throws.[+]
Matthew Stafford Passing More Than 10 Yards Downfield - By Receiver This Season
Matthew Stafford has faced four or fewer rushers on the highest percentage of dropbacks this season (87.9). Stafford faces the Bears Monday, who have used such pressure 79 percent of the time this season, the fifth-highest rate in the NFL.[+]
Bears Defense Sending 4 or Fewer Rushers - This Season
ESPN Stats & Information