Lions vs. Bears preview: Chance to clinch awaits

Rod Beard
The Detroit News

Chicago: Players to watch

Jimmy Clausen, QB: He gets his first start since 2010 and may get an inauspicious welcome from the daunting Lions defense. Jay Cutler’s benching could be a harbinger of more changes in the Bears staff and lineups, but Clausen will at least get his shot.

Matt Forte, RB: He’s is a dual-threat, with 932 rushing yards and six TDs and 745 receiving yards and three TDs.

Martellus Bennett, TE: He torched the Lions for eight catches and 109 yards in the first meeting. Bennett is second on the team with 81 catches and 857 yards.


Quick turnaround: Having lost to the Saints on Monday night, the Bears are working on a short week. They’ve lost their other two games this season with less than seven days’ prep.

Going for sweep: It’s tough to beat a team twice in the same season, but the Lions dominated the first meeting 34-17, though the offense still is looking to establish consistency.

Home-field advantage: It’s Chicago. It’s Soldier Field. It’s winter. The forecast doesn’t call for horrible weather, but it’ll no doubt be cold. That could favor the team with the better running game.

Different directions: The Lions are vying for the division title and a playoff spot; the Bears are just trying to end the season respectably. Is there enough motivation to play hard?

Last hurrah: Rumors have coach Marc Trestman on the hot seat because of a disappointment first season. Are the players still behind him?

Facts and figures

■ The Bears have the worst scoring defense (29.2 points), while the Lions boast the best scoring defense (17.0 points).

■ Alshon Jeffery had nine receptions the first meeting, but with Brandon Marshall out for the season, Jeffery will get more safety attention.

■ The Bears gave up 390 yards to Lions QB Matthew Stafford in the first meeting and couldn’t guard WR Calvin Johnson. They’ll have to come up with a better plan.

■ The Lions rank third in third-down defensive efficiency (35.7 percent). If they can stagnate the Bears drives, they’ll have more chances for the offense to score.

■ The Bears are 28-14 at Soldier Field against the Lions. There’s some home-field advantage there, but will it hold?