The Chicago Bears stopped their free-fall last week, giving themselves a shot at making the playoffs if they can defeat the Detroit Lions on the road and then get some help from their rivals up north in Week 17 on Sunday.
Chicago downed the Arizona Cardinals, 28-13, in Week 16, snapping a three-game losing skid in the process. After a 7-1 start to the season, the Bears now must win and wait for the outcome of the Green Bay Packers-Minnesota Vikings late afternoon contest. If the Packers win, along with a Chicago victory, the Bears will be in the playoffs.
Meet the Detroit Lions
The Lions, at 4-11 overall at this point, are playing in the spoiler role. They can try to avenge a 13-7 loss on the road to the Bears in Week 7 on Monday night, keeping their division rivals out of the playoffs in the process.
Wide receiver Calvin Johnson and his quest for 2,000 receiving yards will be the main focus for Detroit. After setting the single-season receiving yards record last Saturday night against the Atlanta Falcons, Johnson now has 1,892 yards. His 117 receptions also rank first in the league.
Meet the Chicago Bears
In their 13-7 win over the Lions in a Week 7 Monday night battle, the Bears forced four Detroit turnovers and won despite being out-gained in total yardage, 340-296. The Lions didn't notch their lone touchdown of that game until there was under a minute left in the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Jay Cutler hasn't surpassed 200 yards passing in the last two weeks, and hasn't thrown more than one touchdown since the Bears' Week 13 overtime loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Against Detroit in Week 7, Cutler threw for 150 yards and a touchdown.
Local Takes: Lions
Sean Yuille from Pride Of Detroit says potential offseason personnel moves will shape the Lions going forward:
"For example, Schwartz has made it seem like he would prefer for offensive coordinator Scott Linehan to return, but there were rumblings earlier in the week that Linehan may be on his way out. Could this be a sign of the so-called tension between Schwartz and Mayhew? It remains to be seen, but the next week or so should be pretty interesting when it comes to the future of the Lions."
Local Takes: Bears
Sam Householder of Windy City Gridiron wonders if a playoff berth is in the Bears' best interests:
"So what it comes down to is this; Is making the playoffs worth a Wild Card round blowout loss and possibly another short Lovie extension? How long could this go on? Three year extension, miss the playoffs twice, squeak in the third year to earn another three year extension, rise, repeat."
Follow the Fun
Add these fine follows to your Twitter timeline:
'Tension has developed' between Jim Schwartz and Martin Mayhew, according to report sbn.to/ZEVk5j— Pride Of Detroit (@PrideOfDetroit) December 28, 2012
@DaneNoble (Windy City Gridiron)
It's really unusual for this much trash talk to come from a Lovie Smith team. Players more vocal last few weeks about other teams.— Dane Noble (@DaneNoble) December 27, 2012
@davebirkett - Dave Birkett, Lions beat writer for the Detroit Free Press.
One more Dom on Melton: "It’s tiresome, especially from a guy like this, a guy that didn’t even play the past 2 weeks...He’s a clown"— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) December 27, 2012
@mikecwright - Michael C. Wright, Bears/NFL reporter for ESPNChicago.com.
The Bears need some help to get into the playoffs. But the spotlight in this game will be on Calvin Johnson's chase for 2,000 yards. He currently stands at 1,892 receiving yards, putting him 108 yards away from 2,000. Can he do it?
The pick: 24-20, Lions.
The Bears opened the week as three-point favorites, according to OddsShark, and the line hasn't moved since then, as Chicago remains favored by a field goal. The over/under point total for the contest began at 44½ and is now bumped up to 45.
The Lions will not be playing football next week. Chicago, on the other hand, will need to win and get help before they know if they'll be playoff-bound or not.