The Bears (1-2) will look to rebound from last weekend's 26-6 loss to the Browns when they host the Lions (0-3) Sunday at Soldier Field. Here are four storylines to follow in the game:
(1) Who will start at quarterback for the Bears?
Coach Matt Nagy reiterated this week that veteran Andy Dalton remains the Bears' starter when healthy. So, the real question is whether the 11-year pro has recovered sufficiently from the knee injury he suffered in a Week 2 win over the Bengals to play Sunday against the Lions.
Nagy announced Friday that it will be a game-time decision, meaning that we likely won't know until just before noon (CT) Sunday whether Dalton will return after missing one game or rookie first-round pick Justin Fields will make his second NFL start.
Dalton was listed as questionable on the injury report after being limited in practice all week, while Fields was not given an injury designation after being a full participant in practice all week.
(2) Regardless of who plays quarterback, will the Bears offense bounce back from its disappointing performance in Cleveland?
After the Bears failed to score a touchdown and mustered only 47 yards on 42 plays in a humbling defeat to the Browns, center Sam Mustipher likened the outing to going to the dentist and said: "the only way to go is up." Having spent the week seeking solutions and making corrections, the offense hopes to bounce back in a big way Sunday. But it won't be easy against a Lions defense that gave the Ravens and quarterback Lamar Jackson all they could handle last Sunday in a game that Baltimore won 19-17 on Justin Tucker's NFL-record 66-yard field goal.
One area that the Bears need to improve dramatically from last week is pass protection. It's an issue that offensive coordinator Bill Lazor candidly discussed after the Browns were credited with 15 hits on Fields. Outside linebackers Myles Garrett (4.5) and Jadeveon Clowney (2.0) combined for 6.5 of the Browns' nine sacks. Said Lazor: "If I could go back a week—I can't, but if I could—I'd have a different protection plan. We had some things in there, some of it just didn't work the way we thought it would. We thought it was a good answer; it just didn't work … So, let's learn from it and not let it happen again."
(3) Will the Bears defense continue to generate a consistent pass rush?
The Bears have recorded five sacks in each of their last two games and entered Week 4 ranked third in the NFL with 11 sacks this season. Robert Quinn has registered a team-high four sacks—which is already double his output from all of last year. Khalil Mack has three sacks, including one in the second half of last Sunday's loss to the Browns that came after he had missed the second quarter with a sprained foot.
Pressuring new Lions quarterback Jared Goff will be key Sunday at Soldier Field. Acquired in an offseason trade that sent long-time Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford to the Rams, Goff has completed 69.9 percent of his passes for 801 yards with five touchdowns, two interceptions and a 94.3 passer rating while being sacked six times in three games this season.
The Bears will face a balanced Lions offense that's tied for 14th in the NFL in rushing yards and ranks 14th in passing yards. Two running backs share the workload in the Lions backfield. Second-year pro D'Andre Swift has rushed for 123 yards and one touchdown on 33 carries, while former Packer Jamaal Williams has added 121 yards and two TDs on 28 attempts. Swift is also a receiving threat out of the backfield, having caught 19 passes for 166 yards and one TD.
(4) How much of an impact will veteran nose tackle Eddie Goldman make?
The 6-3, 325-pounder is expected to play in his first regular-season game Sunday since December 2019. Goldman opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns and then missed the first three contests this year after injuring his knee in practice. He was a full participant in practice Thursday and Friday after being limited Wednesday.
Goldman has played an instrumental role on the Bears defense in past seasons. He's an elite run-stuffer who's also capable of pushing back the pocket on pass plays. He returned to the Bears for training camp in excellent shape and looked impressive in limited preseason action.
With the Bears preparing to play the first of five October games Sunday, senior writer Larry Mayer ranks their 10 most impressive October wins over the previous 10 seasons.