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Opponent Breakdown: Detroit Lions


Longtime rivals meet on Thanksgiving, as the Chicago Bears (5-6) look to extend their two-game win streak when they take on the Detroit Lions (7-4), who have lost two in a row. Here's a breakdown of Chicago's Week 13 opponent:

What's new: Between 2011 and 2013, few teams could match the Lions' offensive output. Detroit ranked in the top six in the NFL in yards in all three seasons, thanks in large part to the big arm of quarterback Matthew Stafford and the dominant receiving skills of Calvin Johnson. This year, Stafford is still under center and Johnson (for the most part) is out wide, yet the Lions offense has been nowhere near as productive. The Lions currently rank 21st in yards and 28th in points (after finishing no worse than 17th in that department the past three seasons), mainly because of injuries and poor blocking up front. Johnson missed three games earlier in the season and running back Reggie Bush has also been in and out of the lineup. Meanwhile Stafford, who has played all 11 games but has thrown only 13 touchdowns, has been sacked 33 times behind a rickety offensive line.

What's old:Just as it has in years past, the Lions' defensive front-four has wreaked havoc on opposing backfields. Led by defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, the Detroit line is the NFL's best. The Lions allow only 70.7 yards per game rushing, fewest in the NFL, as Suh and company do a fantastic job of using their power to cut off rushing lanes. They are also strong against the pass, with 26 sacks; Second-year defensive end Ezekiel Ansah leads the team with 5.5 sacks, with Suh right behind him at 4.5.

Last time out: Tom Brady and the New England Patriots have made a lot of opponents look bad this season, and the Lions were no different last week. Brady threw for 349 yards and two touchdowns, leading New England to a 34-9 victory over Detroit. While the defensive performance against the Patriots signal caller was alarming, the biggest problem for the Lions has been their lack of offensive production in recent weeks. In the team's last two games, the Lions have gone without a touchdown, scoring a combined 15 points in the two losses.

Series history: The Bears and Lions rivalry dates back to 1930, when the team in Michigan was known as the Portsmouth Spartans. Chicago holds the all-time series lead, 96-67-5, though the Lions won both meetings last season. The Bears had won seven of the last eight games prior to the 2013 contests, and are 6-6 all-time at Ford Field.

Ex-factor:There is only one Bear who has previously huddled in the Lions den: defensive end Willie Young, who was drafted by Detroit and spent four seasons there before signing with Chicago in the 2014 offseason. Young recorded six sacks in those four seasons with the Lions. In 11 games this season with the Bears, he already has eight sacks.

There are no ex-Bears on the Lions roster.

Injury report: The biggest names on the Lions injury report are defensive tackle Nick Fairley, left tackle Riley Reiff and right guard Larry Warford. All three are expected to miss the matchup with the Bears. Bush is also listed on the Lions injury report and is likely to be a game time decision.

Did you know?: Thanksgiving is kind of a big deal to the Lions, who have been hosting games on the holiday since their creation in 1934. Detroit's first-ever Thanksgiving game took place on November 24 of that year, when the Bears beat them 19-16 in front of 26,000 fans at University of Detroit Stadium. All-time, the Bears and Lions have met 15 times on the holiday, with Chicago holding an 8-7 series lead. Versus all opponents, the Lions are 34-38-2 on Thanksgiving.

The Bears' history on the holiday goes back even further, as the team played on Thanksgiving every year from 1920 to 1938. After facing the Chicago Tigers and Buffalo All-Americans the first two years, the Bears and their crosstown rivals, the Chicago Cardinals, were annual Turkey Day foes from 1922 through '33. All-time, the Bears are 16-14-2 on the holiday.

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