The Bears will look to record their third win in 12 days and fifth straight overall Thursday when they visit the Lions in Detroit. Here are four storylines to watch in the game:
(1) How will expected starting quarterback Chase Daniel* fare?*
With Mitchell Trubisky listed as doubtful on the injury report with a right shoulder injury he sustained in last Sunday night's win over the Vikings, Daniel likely will make his first start of the season. The career backup has appeared in 60 games with just two starts in nine NFL seasons, completing 51 of 78 passes for 480 yards with one touchdown, one interception and an 81.1 passer rating.
Although Daniel has only played sparingly since entering the NFL, he possesses a firm grasp of the Bears offense, having spent three seasons with the Chiefs from 2013-15 when Bears coach Matt Nagy served as his position coach. Daniel also played in a similar system with the Eagles in 2016.
Speaking to the media Tuesday, Daniel vowed to be ready to start if needed. "When I first signed here I got asked in the press conference, ‘What are the most important things for a backup QB?'" he said. "No. 1, obviously, is get the starter ready to do whatever he needs to do, and No. 2 is be ready when your number's called, if it's called. This week is a little bit different just because it's a short week, but I really haven't changed the way I prepare. I prepare like a starter every week, so for me it's just another game."
(2) How different would the Bears offense look with Daniel?
Offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich said Tuesday that the Bears wouldn't make significant changes to their offense if Daniel starts in place of Trubisky.
Daniel likely won't present the same scrambling threat as Trubisky, who leads all NFL quarterbacks with 363 yards rushing. But the veteran does have some mobility.
"Whoever starts, starts," Daniel said Tuesday. "I don't think there's much of a difference. Obviously, Mitch is a little bit quicker than I am. He's leading the league in rushing as a quarterback. But I can move a little bit, too, so we'll see what the game plan is and go from there."
(3) How will the Bears handle such a quick turnaround?
The Bears will kick off Thursday against the Lions about 85 hours after their Sunday night game versus the Vikings ended, an unprecedented turnaround. There wasn't even enough time for coaches and players to watch tape of their win over Minnesota. They immediately began preparing for the Lions Monday morning, held a walkthrough Tuesday and flew to Detroit Wednesday afternoon.
"It's a completely different week for us," Nagy said. "But the way you prep for it is you prep ahead of time. We did that when we went into [the first game against the Lions two weeks ago]. We already had a plan for this, so we're not stretched in any way during this time. [Tuesday] is our normal Friday, and we're doing Wednesday, Thursday and Friday all in one."
"It's just cramming a bunch of stuff into one day," Helfrich said. "We had a couple late nights here the last couple nights. We had a set of meetings [Monday] and a walkthrough and kind of the same thing [Tuesday], so it's all mashed into one day."
The Lions also played last Sunday, but they kicked off at noon (CT) at home. The Bears-Vikings game was flexed from noon to 7:20 p.m. Sunday at Soldier Field.
(4) Will the Bears defense continue to dominate?
No NFL defense is playing better than the Bears, especially when it comes to taking the ball away. The Bears lead the NFL with a plus-13 turnover ratio, 27 takeaways and 18 interceptions and are tied for first with 15 forced fumbles. They have generated at least three turnovers in seven of their last eight contests and haven't had a negative turnover differential in any game this season.
The defense has been particularly impressive early in games. The Bears have outscored their last four opponents 68-9 in the first half and have not trailed in any of those contests. During that span, the defense has scored two touchdowns and allowed only one.
All nine of the starters who returned from last season have seemingly gotten better. "If you remember when I was standing up here in January I said the guys that are coming back have to improve; that's our No. 1 job," said defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. "And they have. And then you add a guy like Khalil [Mack] to the mix and Roquan [Smith] and Aaron [Lynch], and we've just gotten better."
Two weeks ago against the Lions, the defense matched a season-high with six sacks of quarterback Matthew Stafford and generated three takeaways. On Thursday, they'll face a Detroit offense that will play without running back Kerryon Johnson and receiver Marvin Jones, both of whom have been ruled out of the game with knee injuries.
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