The battle for the NFC North title continues this afternoon as the Chicago Bears host the Detroit Lions.
The Lions are currently 3-5 after losing back to back games against the Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks. However, the Chicago Bears are 5-3 with back-to-back victories against the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills.
Both teams have talented players on both ends of the ball but the key to a victory will be whichever team can execute more plays and make their red-zone appearances count.
Offensively, the Lions will need a dominant game from veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford. Stafford has been a key factor to the team’s success on offense this season. However, with the recent trade that sent Golden Tate to the Philadelphia Eagles, Stafford will have to find another go-to wide receiver. Stafford has a built a strong chemistry with his wideouts which allows him to make an array of impressive throws in some unbelievably tight windows. If Stafford can figure out a way to fix the red-zone woes than the team can ultimately succeed down the stretch in November.
Defensively, Lions linebacker Devon Kennard has proven to be an aggressive contributor within the linebacking core. Kennard’s ability early on to shed tackles and bull-rush his way to the quarterback has been quite impressive this season. After having a successful first half for Detroit, I only see the numbers rising from one of the more productive linebackers in the league.
The team’s dark horse will have to be running back Theo Riddick. Riddick is arguably one of the best passing-catching running backs in the league which is important for a Lions team with a hole currently within the slot position on offense. Riddick has the skillset and ability to be a serious threat for the Lions offense within the slot. His quick feet and unique catch radius set Riddick apart from other running backs in the league which could benefit the Lions greatly.
Offensively, the Bears will need a strong game from running back Jordan Howard. Howard is an elusive young running back in the NFL which is a huge component to the team’s success offensively. Howard has a knack for avoiding tackles and finding his way into the end zone for Chicago. Currently, Howard has 439 yards on 126 carries through eight games this season with five touchdowns.
Defensively, Khalil Mack will make a strong return after missing nearly a month for the Bears. Mack has been a serious threat for opposing teams this season after being acquired via trade from the Oakland Raiders. Mack is a phenomenal player that can make huge plays throughout the duration of the game. Mack has scored a defensive touchdown while forcing fumbles and grabbing interceptions and with all of those insane statistics this season, Mack has made it look almost effortless.
The Chicago Bears dark horse is quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. In just his second year in the NFL, Trubisky has made a major jump in the league with nearly 2,000 yards with 16 touchdowns to just 7 interceptions. Trubisky has been able to make a lot of smart plays throughout the game and has not only been a factor through the air but his ability to scramble out of the pocket. Trubisky can run the ball and is tough enough to take a hit or two in the process.