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Pregame Warmup

4 things to watch in Bears-Lions game

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The Bears (5-6) will look to win their second straight game when they visit the Lions (3-7-1) on Thanksgiving Day at Ford Field in Detroit. Here are four storylines to monitor in the game:

(1) Will the Bears stack wins and generate some momentum heading into the final quarter of the season?

A victory over a struggling Lions team on Thanksgiving would give the Bears three wins in their last four games following a four-game losing streak and enable them to climb back to the .500 mark.

The Bears have had success against the Lions, winning all three meetings since Matt Nagy became coach in 2018. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky missed last year’s Thanksgiving game in Detroit, but in his last three starts against the Lions he has completed 70.7 percent of his passes for 824 yards with seven touchdowns, three interceptions and a 107.4 passer rating.

The Lions have lost four straight and seven of eight since a 2-0-1 start. They announced Wednesday night that third-string quarterback David Blough will start Thursday's game against the Bears. Jeff Driskel had opened Detroit's previous three contests in place of the injured Matthew Stafford. But Driskel sustained a hamstring injury last Sunday in a loss to the Redskins and will be relegated to backing up Blough against the Bears.

Blough is an undrafted rookie from Purdue who has yet to play in NFL regular-season game. He was signed by the Browns after the draft and traded to the Lions Aug. 30.

(2) Will the Bears offense eliminate the mistakes that have bogged down the unit most of the season?

The Bears defense ranks fourth in the NFL in points allowed per game at 17.1. But the offense is scoring at the exact same clip. This season the Bears have lost games when they’ve allowed 10, 17 and 17 points. Last year they were 10-0 when permitting 17 or fewer points.

Many outside Halas Hall are blaming quarterback Mitchell Trubisky for the offense’s regression. But it’s clearly been a group effort. The unit has struggled to run the ball and has been plagued by dropped passes and penalties. In last Sunday’s win over the Giants, a wide open Ben Braunecker dropped what likely would have been a 29-yard touchdown pass and a hands-to-the-face penalty on Cody Whitehair nullified Trubisky’s 60-yard completion to Allen Robinson, which would have been the Bears’ longest play from scrimmage of the season.

Last Sunday the Bears mustered just 19 points against a Giants defense that had allowed at least 27 points in nine of 10 games this season.

“Scoring 19 points, it was good enough to win that game,” Trubisky said. “With our defense you are going to win a good amount of games that way, but from an offensive standpoint I don’t think it’s good enough. We want to be better. You can’t be happy with where we’re at.”

(3) Will the Bears’ running game be more productive?

The Bears enter Week 13 ranked 29th in the NFL in rushing, averaging just 78.5 yards per game. Since rushing for a season-high 135 yards on 27 carries in a Week 8 loss to the Chargers, rookie David Montgomery has been limited to 153 yards on 58 attempts in the last four games, an average of only 2.6 yards per carry. In the last two weeks he’s been held to 31 yards on 14 carries by the Rams and 22 yards on 13 attempts by the Giants.

Despite the lack of production, coach Matt Nagy remains a big fan of the third-round pick from Iowa State, saying: “I’m very happy with where he’s at. Love the kid to death and I think he has a really bright future.”

Establishing a running game no doubt would benefit Trubisky and the passing attack, especially making play-action passes more effective. This season the Bears are 3-1 when they rush for at least 75 yards in a game and 2-5 when they do not. They ran for 81 yards three weeks ago in a 20-13 win over the Lions at Soldier Field, a game in which Trubisky threw three touchdown passes.

(4) Will the Bears defense generate takeaways and hold the Lions offense in check?

After leading the NFL with 36 takeaways last season, the Bears have generated only 15 in 11 games this year. After forcing nine in three contests early in the season, they’ve produced just five in their last six games.

This season the Bears are 4-1 with a positive turnover ratio, 1-4 when it’s negative and 0-1 when it’s even. They’re 0-3 in games in which they haven’t generated a takeaway.

In their 23-16 win over the Lions last Thanksgiving in Detroit, Eddie Jackson snapped a 16-16 tie by intercepting a Matthew Stafford pass and returning it 41 yards for a touchdown with 6:00 remaining. Kyle Fuller preserved the win by picking off Stafford in the end zone late in the game.

The Lions offense is led by receivers Marvin Jones (56 receptions for 701 yards and eight touchdowns) and Kenny Golladay (43-792-8).

“It’s a dynamic duo,” said defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. “They can take the top off. They’re great route runners. They’re competitive guys. You’ve got to do a great job of disguise. You’ve got to mix your coverages. You’ve got to play tight coverage. I think being on the road and playing indoors and those types of things, it’s going to be a little bit different. I know they’re going to take a bunch of shots down the field to those guys.”

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