Tag Archives: Chicago Bears

Triple Zeros: Bill Zimmerman

Triple Zeros

Bill Zimmerman Joins Triple Zeros to Talk the Latest on the Chicago Bears

Happy to be joined on Triple Zeros by Bill Zimmerman; the executive producer of Mad Dog Sports Radio show on Sirius XM, a contributor to Windy City Gridiron, and host of the Bears Banter podcast.

We got into all things Chicago Bears, covering what Bill’s assessment of their offseason up to this point, why the Bears are so bad at PR, and how they still have a path to Russell Wilson.

All that and more on this episode of Triple Zeros! Be sure to follow Bill on Twitter (@ZimmermanSXM), tune into Mad Dog Sports Radio, and listen to the Bears Banter podcast!

Read the Latest:

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The Chicago Bears Season in Review and Ahead

It’s been a rough season for the Chicago Bears. Okay, that may be putting it mildly. On paper, the Bears started strong with a 5-1 record. The defense was leading the way for the Bears. Many had hoped either Mitchell Trubisky or Nick Foles would improve the offense to a serviceable level of competition. The victories were close, but that’s what good teams do, win the close games. That was what the optimistic sect of Bears fans told themselves.

Reviewing the Chicago Bears Season and Taking a Look Ahead

The Skid

Then the losing streak hit. Each week it felt like groundhog day, with little change to the frustrating cycle. The defense would do its best to hold their opponent within arm’s reach. The offense would go entire quarters, sometimes even games without much production. Injuries to the defense piled up and glaring issues were exposed.

Chuck Pagano built his defensive reputation in Indianapolis but his time in Halas Hall has seen immense regression. Chicago went from number one in the NFL in points allowed per game (17.7) to 14th (23.1). This is despite a big offseason acquisition in Robert Quinn who has just two sacks. At 5-7 and six straight losses, Matt Nagy was on the hot seat.

The Resurgence

One constant of the Nagy organization is, his team refuses to turn on each other. After Foles’ injury against the Vikings in Week 10,  Trubisky was thrust back into the starting lineup. The offense began ticking again. In their next three games, Trubisky led his team to an average of 36 points per game and won all three contests. This stretch paved the way to slip into the playoffs in the number seven seed and seems to have kept Nagy and company around for at least one more season.

Nagy’s run as head coach hasn’t always been the smoothest but this has been the most successful era since Lovie Smith. Nagy is without a losing season in his first three years as head coach, reaching the playoffs twice. This accomplishment shouldn’t be taken lightly, it’s been nearly a decade and a half since the monsters of the midway have seen the postseason that frequently. There is tangible frustration, and it’s warranted, but even when things seem hopeless some franchises find fortune.

The Strengths of This Team

The losses of Bobby Massie and James Daniels forced the offensive line to shuffle. Notre Dame alums Sam Mustipher and Alex Bars have stepped up huge. They are part of the reason why David Montgomery eclipsed the 1,000-yard rushing mark and finished fifth in overall rush yards. Nagy has capitalized on this and re-focused the offense to match its strengths.

Few fans will disagree that Trubisky’s legs are one of his stronger attributes. The play calling now includes more moving pockets and RPO’s and less deep dropbacks and slow-developing plays. When the defense gets pressure on the quarterback, Eddie Jackson and Kyle Fuller have the freedom to jump routes and make plays. All-Pro special teamer Cordarrelle Patterson will need to make his presence felt if the Bears have any chance at winning on Sunday against the Saints.

It’s a New Season for the Chicago Bears

As the postseason gets underway this weekend the Chicago Bears do have a chance to make a run, no matter how unlikely it may seem. Teams with more systemic problems have united in the past and forged unlikely roads to success in the playoffs. The 2011 New York Giants are an example of a team that surprised analysts and fans alike. They made adjustments at just the right time leading to iconic playoff memories. Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning led the G-Men who had an eerily similar season to this year’s NFC North contenders.

The Giants lost five of six games late in the season and fans were calling for Coughlin’s head. The team limped into the playoffs with a 9-7 and a negative point differential. The defense was pitiful in the regular season giving up over 25 points per game but in the playoffs, they averaged just 14 points against even though only one of the games was held at home. They ended their season with a Lombardi trophy upsetting the legendary duo of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady for the second time. As a fan, enjoy this Sunday, who knows when another game as meaningful as this will take place for the Chicago Bears.

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Primetime Sports: A Humbling Experience

Eric Willuweit & Luke Stanczyk discuss the Chicago Bears humbling defeat to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football. They also talk about how the NFL and NCAAF are handling the Covid-19 Pandemic (hint – it’s not going well). And the boys talk a little Northwestern football. Thanks for tuning in to Primetime Sports!

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PrimeTime Sports November 30th 2020 PrimeTime Sports

Hosts Eric Willuweit & Luke Stanczyk discuss the Chicago Bears humbling defeat to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football. They also talk about how the NFL and NCAAFB are handling the Covid-19 Pandemic(hint – it's not going well). And the boys talk a little Northwestern football. Thanks for tuning in.

Primetime Sports. This is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. DangeRuss.

Primetime Sports. This is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. his is content to help reach the green light. Tis is content to help reach the green light. Ths is content to help reach the green light. Thi is content to help reach the green light. DangeRuss

NFL Week 7 Primetime Moneymakers: Mack/Donalds

Don’t look now, but we are on course to have all our regularly scheduled games played at the time they were initially scheduled! It’s the small victories people. We even get the luxury of Thursday Night Football. Hopefully, you read the sarcasm dripping from the word “luxury” because the matchup is another letdown; the New York Giants (1-5) take on the Philadelphia Eagles (1-4-1). Despite their putrid records, this game will have first-place implications for the NFC East.

Another 1-2 week brings us to 2-4 on the season. No, it’s not ideal, but that’s the process and we have notched a win each week. As usual, there is still more money to be made. If anyone is going to win it, it might as well be us, right?

**Just when we thought we were safe from games being rescheduled, for at least a week anyway, the NFL has flexed the Seattle Seahawks visiting the Arizona Cardinals to Sunday night in place of Bucs-Raiders due to Las Vegas having its entire starting offensive line and safety Johnathan Abram on COVID watch**

Primetime Moneymakers Week 7

New York Giants (1-5) @ Philadelphia Eagles (1-4-1)

Spread: Eagles -4.5

O/U: 45

This would typically be one to avoid. With so many injuries for both teams, it’s challenging getting a bead on how this one will go. New York is 3-3 ATS, but all three of their wins have come on the road and two have come in the last three weeks. The Giants offense is putrid, ranking 32nd in DVOA, per Football Outsiders, and 27th or worse in passing yards per game, rushing yards per game, in points per game. But their defense is…better. They rank 17th in DVOA (23rd in pass defense, 15th in rush defense).

Philadelphia (2-4) can’t catch a break. Okay, bad choice of words. But just as the Iggles look to get DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery back they lose Zach Ertz and Miles Sanders for multiple weeks. How healthy will Jackson and Jeffery (a longshot) be in their respective returns? Already without Dallas Goedert, will Richard Rodgers be able to step up? Or will it be the Travis Fulgham show for another week?

Both of these teams are bad and injured and are only on in primetime because everyone must get a shot. Philly’s defense is porous, but the Giants offense is inept. So the question is can the Giants defense keep this one close. They managed to hold the Rams offense to 17 points on the road a couple of weeks ago before struggling against the Cowboys and Football Team. Leave the spread alone and take the Eagles straight up and the under (44.5) in what could be a very ugly watch. They should win handily and hopefully (and mercifully) will get this one over quickly.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-2)  @ Las Vegas Raiders (3-2)

Spread: Raiders +3.5

O/U: 52

Last we saw of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers they were putting the screws to Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to the tune of 38-straight points and a 28-point lead. It was Tampa’s (3-3 ATS) largest margin of victory of the season and came against what was supposed to be their stiffest challenge. Tampa is first in overall and defensive DVOA and is seventh in offensive DVOA. Not an easy task, though both of their losses came on the road.

If there’s one team with reason not to fear the Bucs it’s Las Vegas (3-2 ATS). After all, they have already taken out the Saints and beat the Chiefs in Arrowhead before their bye. Those are two impressive notches for a team no one is talking about. Derek Carr is having a career year. He commands the sixth-ranked offense in DVOA, is leading the league with a career-best 73.1 completion percentage, and is throwing more touchdowns to fewer interceptions than he ever has. His defense is among the worst in the league so he will have to keep it up to keep up the Raiders winning ways.

The spread (-4) wants you to remember and believe the Raiders two big wins instead of the Bucs thrashing of Green Bay. But Tampa’s defense is better than the Saints or Chiefs and does a good job of limiting big plays over the top; a key in Vegas’ win over KC. Only two of the Bucs opponents have matched the Raiders implied total of 24 points. And against the Patriots and Broncos, two defense close to the Bucs, the most Vegas could muster was 23 points. Take the Bucs, minus the points, and the under as they match up perfectly with what the Raiders want to do.

Seattle Seahawks (5-0) @ Arizona Cardinals (4-2)

Spread: Cardinals +3.5

O/U: 56

The Seahawks (4-1 ATS) are the sole remaining undefeated team in the NFL. Russell Wilson is the odds-on favorite to win MVP, the first of his career. Following the #LetRussCook motto, Seattle’s gunslinger leads the NFL in touchdown passes, yards per attempt, and passer rating. The Seahawks are fifth in total DVOA. That’s due to their offense ranking first because their defense is 26th. Letting Russ cook has seemingly been more out of necessity than choice.

Two weeks in a row in primetime for the Cardinals (4-2 ATS)? That’s what the first 4-2 start since 2015 gets you. Obviously this has everything to do with the Raiders COVID issues, but don’t sleep on Kyler Murray’s Cardinals. What we saw from this offense (12th in DVOA) against the Cowboys last Monday could happen again against the porous Seattle secondary. Murray, a preseason favorite for MVP, has had an uneven 2020, throwing six interceptions. But he threw three of those in one (awful) game but he has also thrown 10 touchdown passes and has run for another.

Arizona won the last matchup between these two teams back in December last season. Before that though, Seattle won three straight. Wilson is absolutely dealing right now and, while Murray’s Cardinals had big plays against the Cowboys, he was just 9/24 passing on the night. The Seahawks only win by fewer than five points came last week against a desperate Minnesota Vikings squad. Arizona’s losses both came against the best offenses they’ve faced. Take Seattle minus the points and the over as this could be a fun watch on Sunday night.

Chicago Bears (5-1) @ Los Angeles Rams (4-2)

Spread: Rams -6

O/U: 45

These two teams are meeting in primetime for the third time in as many seasons. The Chicago Bears (4-2 ATS) are riding high on a two-game win streak and sitting in first place in the NFC North. Very much on-brand, it has been the defense (fifth in DVOA) doing the heavy lifting. Khalil Mack and Akiem Hick are dominant as ever and Kyle Fuller has locked down the perimeter along with Jaylon Johnson. Can Nick Foles survive a Rams defense that features the NFL sack-leader, Aaron Donald?

Jared Goff has enjoyed a bounceback season and has the Rams (3-3) looking like a contender once again. They’re fifth in offensive DVOA and the offensive line has only allowed seven sacks, tied for second in the league. Goff has his full-compliment of weapons with Cooper Kupp back after tearing his ACL last season. And he has the luxury of three talented running backs to hand the ball off to. He has one of the highest yards per attempt averages which could be problematic against Mack and Co.

Neither of the previous two matchups between Sean McVay’s Rams and Matt Nagy’s Bears have topped 24 points. So the 45-point total might be a little optimistic. The Bears offense isn’t reliable and their defense should be able to limit the Rams. The spread (Rams -6) says Vegas thinks that won’t be the case. After what we saw against the bruised and beaten 49ers, you have to understand our skepticism. Even if this is in-line with the margin of victory from before. The Bears don’t look scary offensively. But the Rams, outside of Donald, don’t either. Take Chicago plus the points and ride the under.

All lines and other betting information courtesy of Covers.com

Game Preview: Chicago Bears at Atlanta Falcons

If you thought Chicago Bears fans were all in on the team’s 2-0 start, think again. While many are not complaining that the Bears are undefeated after their first two games, it seems nobody is planning the championship parade route just yet.

Bears @ Falcons Preview – September 27, 2020 – Noon CT

Records: Chicago Bears (2-0); Atlanta Falcons (0-2)

Last Meeting: September 10, 2017, at Chicago – Falcons 23 – Bears 17

Week 2 Results: Giants 13 @ Bears 17; Falcons 39 @ Cowboys 40

Several factors are leading to the skepticism in Bears nation:

  • The quality of the Bears last two opponents: the Lions and the Giants are a combined 0-4
  • The continued inconsistency of Mitchell Trubisky: one good fourth quarter in the opener against the Lions, and one good first half against the Giants
  • Doubts about whether the Bears’ defense will ever return to top ten form

That the Bears will be taking on another winless team in the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday will probably not do much to change the perceptions by the fans if they happen to win and move to 3-0.

For Atlanta, they are coming off one of their most humiliating defeats in team history; save for their 25-point come from ahead defeat to the Patriots in Super Bowl 51. The video of the Falcons special team players in last Sunday’s game against Dallas inexplicably letting the Cowboys on-side kick attempt roll past 10 yards without falling on the ball has been played on repeat this past week.

Will the Falcons be ill-tempered at kickoff on Sunday, with a chip on their shoulders? Or is this an opportunity where the Bears can kick a team while they are down (and injured)?

When the Bears Have the Ball

As mentioned, the inconsistency of Trubisky remains a problem. Three good quarters of football out of eight remain problematic for the Bears, despite the 2-0 start. His 59 percent completion percentage ranks 26th, and his passer rating of 92.7 percent puts him in the middle of the pack at 18th.

Yes, there are some drops and near misses in those numbers, but that is true for all quarterbacks across the league. Trubisky will have a chance to improve on those numbers against a Falcons defense that has surrendered nearly 40 points per game in the early going. Both Atlanta starting defensive ends Takkarist McKinley and Dante Fowler Jr. are listed as questionable for the game.

So far Chicago has committed to be more balanced on offense in 2020, and this bears out in the number of passing attempts (64) versus rushing attempts (60) through two games. Look for the Bears to continue the trend in running the football, utilizing the trio of David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen, and Cordarrelle Patterson to pace the league’s 12th ranked rushing offense in total yards.

If ever there was a game for Allen Robinson to get untracked for the season, this would be the ideal scenario. Teams are completing an astounding 77 percent of their passes against the Falcons for a total of 744 yards through two games. The Falcons also do not have an interception to date. The Falcons secondary is also decimated, with rookie starting cornerback A.J. Terrell placed on the reserve-COVID-19 list, and starting safety Ricardo Allen out with an elbow injury.

When the Falcons Have the Ball

Where the Falcons defense giveth, the Falcons offense taketh. Atlanta comes into the game with the second-ranked passing offense with 351 yards per game, including six touchdowns in the air against only one interception. Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan continues to play at a high level, currently ranked ninth in quarterback rating at 110.

The Bears secondary will be thoroughly tested Sunday afternoon, provided Atlanta All-Pro wideout Julio Jones can play. He is currently questionable with a hamstring injury. Even if he doesn’t play, the Falcons boast the league’s top receiver in Calvin Ridley, who has 239 yards and four touchdowns on the season. Look for the Falcons to test Bears rookie cornerback Jaylon Johnson, who has impressed in the early going, albeit against lesser caliber receivers than the Falcons present.

The Falcons rushing offense has been less than dynamic, ranked 28th in the league. Todd Gurley II is averaging only 3.34 yards-per-carry and roughly 60 yards rushing per game. The Bears rushing defense improved to 10th in the league with 213 total yards allowed. Part of that improvement was a result of the season-ending knee injury to Giants running back Saquon Barkley early in the first half. Still, this is a game where Akiem Hicks, Bilal Nichols, and Roy Robertson-Harris need to prove they can contain the Falcons running game nonetheless.

Prediction

Atlanta is hungry for a win and will play fast and will play with an edge. Jones will play despite the hamstring injury, and Ryan and the Atlanta offense will prove too much for the Bears defense to contain. Trubisky and the Bears offense will not be able to keep pace.

Falcons 35 – Bears 24

Game Preview: New York Giants at Chicago Bears

The Bears scored 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter in Detroit in their come-from-behind victory over the Lions. After struggling for the first three quarters, Mitchell Trubisky fired three touchdown passes in the final quarter to secure the comeback.

They’ll be facing a Giants team that battled but didn’t have enough to overcome the Steelers in their season opener this past Monday night. Giants quarterback Daniel Jones threw two touchdowns but also had two interceptions, including a costly red-zone pick on a Giants 19-play drive. Saquon Barkley was held to six yards on 15 carries.

PREVIEW: GIANTS @ BEARS – SEPTEMBER 20, 2020 – 12:00 PM CT

Records: New York Giants (0-1); Chicago Bears (1-0)

Last Meeting: November 24, 2019 at Chicago – Bears 19 – Giants 14

Week 1 Results: Pittsburgh 26 @ NY Giants 16; Chicago 27 @ Detroit 23

WHEN THE GIANTS HAVE THE BALL

Everything for the Giants offense starts and ends with Barkley. As he goes, so go the Giants. Barkley has had mixed results in his two prior meetings with the Bears, gaining 125 yards on 24 carries in a 2018 Giants victory in New York, while getting held to just 59 yards on 17 carries in last year’s loss in Chicago.

A strong game by Barkley will take the pressure off of Jones to have to win the game in the air. Jones is prone to turnovers the more he puts the ball in the air.  The Giants revamped offensive line struggled against the Steelers, surrendering three sacks and producing only 29 rushing yards.

The Bears rush defense was embarrassed last week in Detroit, as 35-year-old Adrian Peterson piled up 93 yards on just 14 carries for a 6.6 yards-per-carry average. If the Bears are missing nose tackle Eddie Goldman that significantly, they will be in for a long afternoon on the lakefront if Barkley can consistently get to the second level. Bears inside linebackers Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan will be critical in containing Barkley.

Look for the Giants to test Bears rookie cornerback Jaylon Johnson, to see if he can contain wideout Darius Slayton, who had six catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns on Monday night. Johnson acquitted himself well in his first game as a professional, including a pass breakup in the end zone to seal the victory in Detroit.

WHEN THE BEARS HAVE THE BALL

Will the real Mitch Trubisky please stand up, please stand up. It might be fair to say last week’s game in Detroit was quintessential Trubisky: mostly ineffective for the bulk of the game, then flashing for the final quarter to throw three perfect passes for touchdowns to lead the comeback.

That performance was a microcosm of his career; some good, mostly bad. As with the Jones and the Giants, Trubisky and the Bears offense will be aided by a strong running attack. The Bears rushed for 149 yards last week against the Lions, and they will look to continue that against a suspect Giants’ front line.

The Giants will counter with standout safety Jabrill Peppers, who plays in multiple spots on the Giants defense. He will look to disrupt things for Bears tight ends Jimmy Graham and Cole Kmet in an attempt to deny Trubisky of those weapons.

Former Packer linebacker and Bears tormentor Blake Martinez signed with the Giants in the off-season, and had a strong opener, leading the Giants defense with eight tackles. Giants end Leonard Williams had one of the two sacks for the team Monday night, and he will look to put pressure on the Bears offensive line and Trubisky.

PREDICTION

The Bears defense, uncharacteristically muted in the opener against the Lions, will rebound with an all-around performance, and stymie the Giants rushing and passing attack. The Bears offense will continue to lean on their improved run game, and Trubisky will have a solid but safe outing.

Bears 24 – Giants 10

Game Preview: Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions

In the early months of the pandemic, when many people were mocking the National Football League for its presumptuousness for holding off-season free agency and the draft, the actual start of the NFL season seemed like wishful thinking. Despite other sports rolling out their bubbles and hub cities, the NFL – the most contact sport of any of the four major North American sports – decided to forge ahead, choosing instead to focus on daily testing and enhanced training complex safety protocols and social-distancing to keep their players and team personnel safe.

Fast-forward to today, and the NFL has had very low positive Covid-19 infections among its ranks, to the surprise of many. The season formally kicked off on Thursday night between Houston and Kansas City, and aside from only about 16,000 fans in attendance due to pandemic capacity restrictions, the game itself looked the same as always.

This doesn’t mean the league is out of the woods by any means when it comes to a spike in Covid-19 infections. The league can look no further than their baseball counterparts to know that the virus has its own plans, and can wreak havoc on game schedules. But for today, and hopefully, for the season in total, football is back, and it’s under this backdrop that we present our week one Chicago Bears preview: Chicago at Detroit.

PREVIEW: BEARS @ LIONS – SEPTEMBER 13, 2020 – 12:00 pm CT

BEARS vs Lions: 2019 RECAP

11/10/19 at Chicago: Bears 20 – Lions 13

11/28/19 at Detroit: Bears 24 – Lions 20

That Chicago won both games against the Lions in 2019 is more of a testament to the team’s good fortune than it was to their overall ability and talent compared to the Lions. The Bears were able to dodge facing Matthew Stafford in either game, as his back injury the week before the November 11th match-up took him out of action for the remainder of the season. Instead, Chicago got to face such quarterback wizardry from the likes of Jeff Driskel and David Blough. Advantage: Bears.

The Detroit defense also was very forgiving, as Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky continued to string together his best performances within the division against the Lions and Matt Patricia’s man coverage schemes. Something about facing the team from the Motor City seems to bring the best out of Trubisky, or the worst out of the Lions.

WHEN THE BEARS HAVE THE BALL

After “winning” the pre-season quarterback competition over free-agent signee Nick Foles, all eyes will be on Trubisky to prove he has finally turned the corner in his star-crossed career. Trubisky’s struggles have been well-documented: inability to read defenses, leading to poor decision-making; telegraphing his targets; inaccurate throws. There have also been concerns with the quarterback’s psyche, and whether he is too fragile to handle one of the most demanding positions in all of pro sports. His comment last season about turning off the televisions at Hallas Hall didn’t help him in that regard.

Glass half-full theory says Trubisky usually does well against Detroit and will be able to continue this trend. Glass half-empty theory says Detroit has a new defensive coordinator (Cory Undlin) and revamped defensive personnel that might deploy more zone schemes to confuse the Bears quarterback. If the off-season work that Trubisky says he put in to improve his game-day performance has worked, this game will serve as exhibit A.

Improvement on offense is not in Trubisky’s hands alone, however. Bears head coach Matt Nagy will be scrutinized as much as his quarterback this season to determine if the supposed offensive guru has figured out a way to get his offensively-challenged team progressing and moving in the right direction. The starting personnel on offense, except for new tight ends and a new guard, remain the same. That means Nagy will be tasked to develop a game plan that fits with the players he has on offense, something he has not done successfully in his first two years on the job.

Receiver Allen Robinson is the Bears best weapon on offense, but he won’t be able to do it alone against the Lions. The Bears are facing a completely revamped Lions secondary that includes Desmond Trufant, third overall draft pick cornerback Jeff Okudah, and Duron Harmon. However, that might not help the Bears if they can’t get receiver production from an inconsistent Anthony Miller and an aging Ted Ginn Jr. At tight end, the Bears are hoping free agent acquisition Jimmy Graham and second-round draftee Cole Kmet can provide Trubisky with the short/medium range outlets that they have lacked during his time as a Bear. The Lions will look to linebacker Jamie Collins Sr. and safety Tracy Walker, among others, to slow down Graham and Kmet.

At running back for the Bears, David Montgomery will be available. His effectiveness will go a long way in providing the Bears with some versatility on offense. To help Trubisky, the Bears need to establish an effective running game to provide offensive balance, something that Nagy has seemed unwilling to commit to since his arrival. The Bears were 28th in run offense in 2019, while the Lions were middle of the pack in run defense at 16. Defensive tackles Danny Shelton and former Bear Nick Williams will be the men in the middle of the Lions defensive line trying to clog things up for the Bears running game.

With the exception of newcomer Germain Ifedi at RG, the Bears offensive line returns all starters from 2019. The Bears offense ranked at or near the bottom in most offensive categories last year. The offensive line owns a significant portion of that performance. The focus on this game will be Bears left tackle Charles Leno Jr. versus Lions defensive end Trey Flowers.

WHEN THE LIONS HAVE THE BALL

Stafford returns at quarterback for the Lions. He was having a very successful first half of the season before he exited 2019 with a back injury. The Lions and their fans are holding their breath that he can remain healthy for the entire 2020 campaign, because as Matthew Stafford goes, so goes the chance for any success for the Lions. That said, the last season Stafford faced the Bears and their defense was in 2018, and he only threw for two touchdowns to go along with 4 interceptions, for a passer rating of 71.4 percent. Clearly, Stafford can’t do it alone either.

The Lions will be without a grade A talent at wide receiver in Kenny Golladay, who finished 2019 with 11 touchdown catches to go along with 1,190 receiving yards. This despite only having the services of Stafford for half a season. Still, look for the Lions to test Bears rookie cornerback Jaylon Johnson early and often. At tight end, the Lions are hoping to get more from second-year starter T.J. Hockenson. Bears linebackers Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan will be tasked with containing him.

Running back has consistently been the Lions Achilles heel since Stafford came into the league, and has typically been seen as the reason the Lions have not been successful overall as a team. The Lions are hoping a combination of Kerryon Johnson, second-round pick D’Andre Swift, and former All-Pro Adrian Peterson will breathe life into a Lions non-existent running game. Look for the Lions to test Bears nose tackle Bilal Nichols, who has some big shoes to fill in the middle of the Bears defensive line, replacing Eddie Goldman, who opted out for the season.

The right side of the Lions offensive line is completely new from the unit that finished 2019 as the 11th ranked unit according to Pro Football Focus. Halapoulivaati Vaitai will start at RT, and rookie third-rounder Jonah Jackson at right guard. The Bears had two sacks against the Lions in each game in 2019, including two by Smith in the Thanksgiving day match-up. Look for the Bears and Khalil Mack to dial up the pressure on the right side of the Lions offensive line.

SPECIAL TEAMS

For the Bears, Cairo Santos replaces the injured Eddy Pineiro at placekicker to start the season. The Lions employ the normally reliable Matt Prater. At punter, the Bears Pat O’Donnell should have an initial edge over Lions rookie Jack Fox. Kicking edge to the Lions. In the return game, the Bears combination of Cordarrelle Patterson and Tarik Cohen provides them with a considerable edge.

THE COACHES

Matt Nagy: 20 – 12 – 0 (.625)

Matt Patricia: 9 – 22 – 1(.297)

Bears fans have not exactly been enthralled with what they have seen from Nagy, despite his overall record in his first two years. Lions fans would take 20-12 over the last two seasons compared to the record Patricia has provided over that same period. Advantage: Bears

PREDICTION

The Bears win a typical NFC North slog against the Lions: 23 – 20