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Opponent Breakdown: Detroit Lions


With a win on Sunday, the Detroit Lions (10-4) will clinch a playoff berth. The Chicago Bears (5-9) want to prevent that from taking place in their home finale. Here is a breakdown of Chicago's Week 16 opponent:

What's new: At long last, the Lions finally have a kicker they can rely on. Detroit signed Matt Prater on October 7, after the first two players they used at the position - Nate Freese and Alex Henery - started the season a combined 4-of-12 on field goals, including 1-of-9 on attempts from 30 yards or longer. Prater, who has been with the team for their past nine games, struggled early on, going 1-for-3 on field goals in his debut. Recently he's been much better, and was the key to Detroit's 16-14 win last Sunday versus Minnesota. Prater converted all three field goals he tried against the Vikings, including the eventual game-winner with 3:38 to go in the fourth quarter. The new Lions kicker has converted 12 of his last 13 field goal attempts.

What's old: When healthy, there are few players in the NFL that cause more headaches for defensive coordinators than Calvin Johnson. Though an ankle injury slowed him early in the season, the playmaker known as Megatron is still just 65 yards away from his fifth consecutive and sixth overall 1,000-yard season. Johnson has made up a lot of ground the past three weeks, as he's hauled in 23 passes for 357 yards since Thanksgiving. He's also had some recent success against the Bears, scoring five touchdowns over his last three games against Chicago.

Last time out: Detroit was out-gained 360-233 by the Vikings, but the Lions made up the difference on the scoreboard, doing just enough to pull out a 16-14 home win. Prater was key, as he was 3-for-3 on field goals, while his Vikings counterpart - Blair Walsh - missed all three of his attempts. The victory, combined with Green Bay's loss to Buffalo, put the Lions on the brink of the postseason. Detroit is in the NFC playoff field with a victory, and can win the NFC North if they defeat the Bears and the Packers lose their game to Tampa Bay.

Series history: Sunday's game will be the 170th all-time meeting between Detroit and Chicago. The Lions have won the past three games, including the Thanksgiving Day contest at Ford Field, 34-17. The Bears have fared well historically against the Lions at home, with a 54-25-4 in Chicago. Overall, the Bears have 96 wins against Detroit, the franchises most against any opponent. Detroit has not won in Chicago in consecutive years since 1972 and 1973.

What they're saying: "They (Bears defense) does have strengths, they still get after the passer. That front four, if you look at the tape, is getting after quarterbacks, hitting them. They may not have the sack numbers as in years past, but deflected passes, hitting the QB some. There are still challenges out there for sure, there's no question." - Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford

Injury report: The Lions victory on Sunday came with a major loss, as right tackle LaAdrian Waddle suffered a serious knee in the victory against Minnesota and is out for the season. Waddle started 10 games this year, and he will be replaced in the lineup by undrafted rookie Cornelius Lucas. Detroit is still without defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who has missed the last six games with a knee injury.

Did you know?: If the Lions are able to win the NFC North, they would get at least one home playoff game. That is noteworthy for any team, but especially this one. Detroit has not hosted a playoff game since January 8, 1994, when in Brett Favre's first-career postseason start, the Packers quarterback threw three touchdowns in a 28-24 Packers win. Barry Sanders ran for 169 yards in the losing effort. The only NFL team that has waited longer to see a home playoff game is the Browns, as Cleveland hasn't hosted a postseason contest since a week prior - January 1, 1994. (To be fair, Cleveland also didn't have a team from 1995 to 1999.)

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