In quest of their third straight victory, the Bears will visit Detroit Sunday to face the NFL's only winless team. But that doesn't mean they're taking the 0-5 Lions for granted.
"They've got a great offense," said outside linebacker Pernell McPhee. "They've got weapons. We're not going to take them any more lightly than we take anybody else."
Running back Kyle Long
Those aren't just words to the Bears, who have lost four straight games to the Lions for the first time since 1971-73 and have yielded 74 points in their last two trips to Detroit. They're well aware of just how dangerous quarterback Matthew Stafford and receiver Calvin Johnson can be.
"It's the NFL," said tight end Martellus Bennett. "We could easily be 0-5 right now. There are just a couple plays here and there. It's a division game, so records don't count. The last couple of years they have had our number, so I'm hoping that this isn't a game that Matthew and Calvin and all those guys start clicking. We're going to try to go in there and get another win."
Coach John Fox echoed the same sentiment when asked about the Lions' 0-5 mark.
"We don't look at records," Fox said. "We look at the tape and there's a lot to look at. We look at it all week. A lot of time and effort goes into it. But they're very capable like all NFL teams. There are no cupcakes regardless of records in this league."
The Lions have dropped their first five games to the Chargers, Vikings, Broncos, Seahawks and Cardinals. Last Sunday at Ford Field, Detroit took a 7-0 lead before Arizona posted 35 unanswered points in a 42-17 rout. Stafford was benched in the second half after throwing three interceptions, but he's expected to start Sunday against the Bears.
Stafford has completed 64.6 percent of his passes for 1,205 yards with six touchdowns, a league-high eight interceptions and a 74.8 passer rating that ranks 33rd out of 35 qualifiers. The Lions passing offense averages 272.4 yards per game, ninth in the NFL.
"I still see all the talent and the explosiveness that they've had the past few years, ever since he's been there, particularly with that receiving group that he's got in Johnson and [Golden] Tate," said defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. "They just have struggled a little bit. They've played some really good defenses and it just hasn't worked out for them. But they're still very capable of winning a lot of games during the season."
Johnson has caught 32 passes for 322 yards and one TD this season. The five-time Pro Bowler has topped 1,000 yards receiving each of the past five years, including an NFL-record 1,964 yards on 122 receptions in 2012. Johnson torched the Bears with 11 receptions for 146 yards and 2 TDs in the Lions' 34-17 victory last Thanksgiving in Detroit.
"He's a great receiver," Fangio said. "He's a tough matchup because of his size, speed and strength. And they've thrown him the ball down the field. Even though you might have tight coverage, Stafford feels comfortable throwing him the balls that he might outfight the guy with his size. I see the same player that's always been there."
The Lions haven't received much help from a rushing attack that's averaging an NFL-low 49 yards per game. Running back Ameer Abdullah was benched last Sunday after fumbling twice against the Cardinals, including once on a kickoff return.
"They've gone against some really good defenses that are really hard to run the ball against," Fangio said. "You have to keep that in mind. They've got good backs. I expect them to re-commit themselves back to the run."