PFF Preview: Bears @ Lions, Week 13
The annual tradition of football on Thanksgiving commences this year with the Detroit Lions hosting the division rival Bears in their first 2014 meeting. After a 7-2 start that saw the Lions perched atop the NFC North, Detroit is now a game behind the Packers after two ugly losses in which they scored just 15 total points.
They’ll have every opportunity to get that offense back on track this week against a Chicago defense that has struggled at times this year, notably allowing over 50 points in back to back games either side of their bye. The Bears have won their last two, though, and allowed only 13 points in each of those contests, and considering how Matthew Stafford and company have underachieved so far it’s not unfathomable that Chicago puts up another solid defensive showing.
Perhaps of more concern to Chicago is their offensive regression from last year. They have the weapons available on offense at every position, so if they can slow down Detroit’s strong defensive line and give Jay Cutler time to throw, they may just be able to utilize those weapons and play spoiler in Detroit.
Martellus Bennett – He leads all tight ends having forced 19 missed tackles, and his 327 yards after the catch this year is behind only Rob Gronkowski.
Jay Ratliff – One of the biggest surprises on defense has been the impressive play of the 33-year old Ratliff. With a Pass Rushing Productivity of 9.4 (sixth among DT/NTs), Ratliff could have a big day against a Detroit interior still missing Larry Warford.
Kyler Fuller – After a couple of strong games early in the year, Fuller’s play and tapered off, as he’s allowed three touchdowns and tallied only one pass defense since Week 3. Should Fuller’s knee keep his on the sideline in this game, Demontre Hurst has been respectable in his 214 snaps this year.
Ezekiel Ansah – With the seventh-highest Pass Rushing Productivity rating (11.1) among 4-3 defensive ends, Ansah will be lining up across from Jermon Bushrod, who has allowed multiple pressures in seven of his nine games this season.
DeAndre Levy – He’s been a force in run defense, but Levy has struggled at times to wrap up receivers, missing 11 tackles so far this year in coverage. That won’t cut it against one of the best receiving backs in the game in Matt Forte.
Golden Tate – With Stafford having a down year, Tate’s ability to make something happen after the catch has been a lifesaver for the offense. The former Seahawk’s 14 forced missed tackles are second highest among receivers, and his 7.5 YAC per reception is also near the top of the charts.
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