The Bears' preseason Super Bowl aspirations have given way to desperation. They required a second-half comeback to overtake the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers at home last Sunday. Their performance on offense was so hapless that Chicago's coaching staff called it the "worst half" the unit had produced all season. They corrected in the third quarter, with quarterback Jay Cutler force-feeding receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, but scoring remains a constant question for this Bears team.
Statistically, Cutler is having his best season as a Bear. He's completing 66.8 percent of his passes for 2,825 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 12 picks. If he maintains his current pace, Cutler will have his first 4,000-yard season since his final year in Denver in 2008. Matt Forte is also enjoying a career year; through 11 weeks, the Pro Bowler has amassed 822 yards on the ground and another 598 as a receiver. He has an outside chance of becoming the first player since Roger Craig to record 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same year.
The Lions brought in Jim Caldwell to fix the institutional issues created by former head coach Jim Schwartz. While his calm personality has indeed fostered a new atmosphere of professionalism (Dominic Raiola aside), his team has regressed badly on offense. Even with new weapon Golden Tate taking the pressure off Calvin Johnson, the unit has massive trouble putting points on the board. Matthew Stafford in particular seems to have fallen back into bad habits, completing less than 40 percent of his passes on Sunday in Foxborough. For the Lions to stay afloat, their offense will need to improve.
In a matter of two weeks, the Lions have gone from sole possession of the NFC North to second place behind the surging Green Bay Packers. Detroit lost back-to-back games to the Arizona Cardinals and New England Patriots, scoring a combined 15 points in those losses. Stafford has struggled mightily overall, completing less than 60 percent of his passes this season, but somehow Tate is having his best year as a pro. He has already crushed his previous career highs for catches, receiving yards, and plays of 20 or more yards.
The Bears enter Thursday with a record of 5-6. The Lions come in at 7-4.
How to watch
Where: Ford Field, Detroit
When: 12:30 p.m. ET
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson
Online streaming: Verizon NFL Mobile
The Lions are 7-point favorites according to OddsShark, with an over/under of 47.5 points.