This 2017 season's first edition of Saturday football features two teams from the NFC North. One is fighting for its playoff life, and the other is looking to spoil its division rival's hopes.
The Detroit Lions are 7-6 entering their Week 15 matchup with the Chicago Bears, which puts them a game back of the Falcons for the No. 6 seed in the NFC. The Seattle Seahawks are also ahead of Detroit, however, so the Lions will likely need to not only win out through the rest of the regular season, but get some help along the way, if they want to get into the playoffs.
Chicago, with its 4-9 record, has already been eliminated from contention, but has emerged as a surprisingly frisky squad over the last few weeks. The Bears lost five games in a row before finally getting a win over the Bengals last week, but only one of those losses was by more than one possession.
Can they manage to make it two wins in a row and ruin the Lions' playoff hopes at the same time? We'll find out Saturday afternoon.
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Lions offense is banged up
Detroit will be without offensive line starters Travis Swanson and Rick Wagner for this game. Losing a top right tackle like Wagner is bad enough, but also being without the starting center makes things even worse. Add those injuries to Matthew Stafford's various ailments, and this is an offense clearly not operating at full strength.
The team is expected to get Ameer Abdullah back this weekend, but that's not enough to make up for the absences of the linemen -- especially considering Abdullah's ineffectiveness this season. There will be a lot of pressure on Stafford to make things happen on his own against a quietly solid Bears defense that tends to funnel passes away from wide receivers and toward tight ends and running backs.
Detroit has Eric Ebron and Theo Riddick at those positions to catch passes, but there's no question Stafford would rather be throwing to Golden Tate and Marvin Jones. If the Bears manage to get enough pressure on him with the linemen out, he may not have enough time to work the ball to the outside and down the field.
Trubisky is coming on
In his first four starts, Bears rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky completed just 38 of 80 passes for 512 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions. That's 6.4 yards per attempt and a 66.2 passer rating. That's terrible.
Over his last five starts, however, Trubisky has been much better. He's completed 93 of 145 passes for 996 yards, four touchdowns, and two picks. That's 6.9 yards per attempt and an 87.6 passer rating. That's still not great, but it's clearly much better.
And in each of his last two starts, Trubisky has managed a passer rating of 112 or better, completing 37 of 47 passes for 373 yards and two scores. There's still not a whole lot there in the way of volume, but his efficiency has risen greatly. The Bears will need more from him in the future than they're getting right now, but this is undeniably a step in the right direction.
Who ya got?
Six of eight CBSSports.com experts expect the Lions to beat the Bears, but only two of eight expect Detroit to cover the 5.5-point spread. One of the experts playing the middle is Pete Prisco, who has the Lions winning, 28-23.
"The Bears are playing consecutive road games after beating up on the Bengals Sunday. The Lions are still alive in the playoff chase, which will show up in terms of motivation. Matt Stafford has a big day."
You can get all of our picks for the game here.
Source : https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/news/bears-at-lions-in-week-15-picks-how-to-watch-and-stream-on-nfl-saturday/