Generally speaking, Detroit is a beatable team, except for whatever reason, the Bears cannot beat the Lions.
At 1-2, the Lions are not as bad as their record indicates, but John Fox’s team is every bit 0-3.
The Bears can’t expect to simply show up and collect their first victory of 2016. The game Sunday at Soldier Field should be competitive.
Here are six Detroit players to watch, courtesy of ESPN Lions reporter Mike Rothstein.
WR Marvin Jones: The NFL’s receiving leader (408 yards) has turned into a bonafide No. 1 target for the Lions. He has a size-speed combination to cause issues for most cornerbacks and his hands are some of the best in the NFL. He’s coming off the first back-to-back 100-yard games of his career (and he actually went for 205 yards Sunday against the Packers). Detroit may not have Calvin Johnson anymore, but Jones has picked up a lot of his production.
QB Matthew Stafford: He has continued his hot stretch from the end of last season and is a top-10 quarterback in almost every area. Stafford is in the top five in yards (985) and the top 10 in QBR (76.1), completion percentage (67.5) and passer rating (105.0). He’s developed a strong rapport with Jones and has strong secondary options in tight end Eric Ebron and running back Theo Riddick. He’s been one of Detroit’s top two players this season.
LG Laken Tomlinson: Detroit’s offensive line has been pretty good so far this year, but Tomlinson has struggled. If Chicago is looking for a place to get pressure against the run and the pass, look at the left side of the line. Left tackle Taylor Decker is still a rookie and has showed some inconsistency after struggling against Green Bay on Sunday. But with the right side of Detroit’s offensive line playing well, the left side is where the Bears should exploit.
DE Kerry Hyder: The relative unknown is tied for second in the NFL with four sacks. He won’t overwhelm you with his size or his speed, but he’s a relentless player who has hard-worked himself into a roster spot and with Ezekiel Ansah likely out, a starting position. And he’s done this in essentially one game’s worth of defensive snaps (66 plays).
LB Tahir Whitehead: Detroit’s middle linebacker is basically holding the middle of the field together by himself. The Lions linebackers are pretty beat up with DeAndre Levy having missed the last two weeks, Antwione Williams out last week, Jon Bostic on injured reserve and Josh Bynes released after an injury. Besides Whitehead and Kyle Van Noy, Detroit had a waiver claim pickup (Thurston Armbrister) and a just-signed practice squad player (Zaviar Gooden) at linebacker. So it’s an area to exploit -- something teams have done all season.
CB Darius Slay: He’s likely going to be matched up on Alshon Jeffery for a decent portion of the game against the Bears and it’ll be a fun matchup to watch. Slay has been Detroit’s top cornerback this season and typically draws the tough assignments. He did a decent job on Jordy Nelson last Sunday, often tackling him just after the catch. Teams are still looking away from him to pick on the other side of the Lions secondary. But this week will be a big proving point for him against a top receiver.