The NFL regular season is coming to an end for two of four NFC North franchises on Sunday. All four of the black and blue teams will square off with Green Bay hosting Minnesota and the Bears getting a visit from their old pal in Detroit.
For the 6-9 Bears it has been a year filled with plenty of bumps and bruises as injuries have piled up alongside a new look group led by general manager Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox. Looking to avoid a fourth consecutive loss at Solider Field, the Bears will be searching for a win to end the year on a high note at 7-9.
There is still enough to play for to want to earn a victory. Generating one last win could give the Bears that extra bump as they head into the off-season planning to add a plethora of talent on both sides of the ball.
After beating the Lions 9-of-10 times from 2008-12, the Bears have dropped five straight to Detroit including two games in Chicago by a combined eight points. At Ford Field in Week 6, the Lions outlasted the Bears 37-34 in overtime in the first meeting this season.
Here's a breakdown of what both teams are thinking heading into Sunday's 172nd all-time meeting.
What the Lions are thinking
Much like the Bears, the Lions are 6-9 and looking to end the regular season slate on a winning streak. If they can come into Chicago and upend the Bears it would give Detroit a three-game winning streak which is something they can build off of next season.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford seems to always have success against the Bears especially over the past few seasons. He has a favorable matchup as long as his running game can get going with the trio of versatile backs Joique Bell, Ameer Abdullah and Theo Riddick.
Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata facing center Matt Slauson in the middle of the line will be a fun matchup to watch as well as linebacker Stephen Tulloch's matchup with Jeremy Langford.
These two divisional rivals always play one another tough and I don't expect anything different in this one. Wide receiver Calvin Johnson has been quiet as of late, but against the Bears he turns it on typically, so expect his matchup against cornerback Tracy Porter to be one that gets a lot of attention on Sunday.
What the Bears are thinking
The Bears are ending the regular season with almost the same way they've played the entire 16-game schedule; with a boatload of injuries.
Rookie defensive tackle Eddie Goldman (right ankle) and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (hamstring) were placed on season-ending injured reserve this week, so add those two starters with the 12 players currently on the injury report this week and this finale will likely give the Bears a different look.
By default the search for future gems will be on this week. Safety Harold Jones-Quartey and linebacker John Timu both proved last week that they are ready for the challenge even as undrafted rookies.
Jeremy Langford should see a good portion of the snaps out of the backfield with Matt Forte dinged up. However, don't expect Forte to sit this one out. This game may not have a lot of meaning to outsiders, but to Forte he knows much like his teammates that this could be his final game in a Bears' uniform.
His contract situation will be figured out in the coming weeks as he's set to be a unrestricted free agent at the age of 30.
Much like last week's win over Tampa Bay, the Bears need to use this game to gain motivation and figure out who can be counted on for the 2016 season. We've seen flashes from a group of players, but many of them haven't made it through the season because of injuries. This is an important game.
Bears - DOUBTFUL: Center Hroniss Grasu (knee), wide receiver Eddie Royal (illness)
QUESTIONABLE: Safety Adrian Amos (shoulder), cornerback Bryce Callahan (quad), running back Matt Forte (back), defensive lineman Jarvis Jenkins (ankle/illness), linebacker Shea McClellin (concussion), linebacker Pernell McPhee (knee), tight end Zach Miller (toe), cornerback Tracy Porter (ankle), defensive lineman Mitch Unrein (knee), linebacker Willie Young (rib)
Detroit - OUT: Center Travis Swanson (shoulder)
DOUBTFUL: Defensive end Jason Jones (neck)
QUESTIONABLE: Running back Ameer Abdullah (shoulder), safety Isa Abdul-Quddus (shoulder), wide receiver Calvin Johnson (ankle), cornerback Nevin Lawson (shoulder), defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (foot), tackle Michael Ola (knee)
PROBABLE: Linebacker Josh Bynes (thumb)
Final Score Prediction
Bears 27, Lions 20
I think the Bears will do enough to pull out the victory and end the season on a mini two-game winning streak. Even without Alshon Jeffery, Jay Cutler will be able to lead this team to their seventh win.
Season predictions: (8-7)
Intervals of clouds and sunshines. High 31F. Winds NNW at 10 to 15 mph.
The off-season. That's where we will find out what's to come in terms of all the Bears' moves.
Thoughts on the Bears-Buccaneers Week 16 matchup? Make sure to weigh in on the comment section below.
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