Lions vs. Bears preview: Keep No. 2 seed in sight

James Hawkins
The Detroit News

James Hawkins breaks down Sunday's Lions-Bears game at Ford Field (1,Fox/WJR).

Bears to watch

Jordan Howard, RB: The rookie out of Indiana has been one of the lone bright spots during Chicago’s dismal season. Howard is coming off monster a game where he carried the Bears to a win, rushing for 117 yards and three TDs on 32 carries. He leads the team with 883 yards rushing, five TDs and a 4.9 yards-per-carry average, and also has 22 catches for 242 yards and a score.

Willie Young, LB: The former Lion is Chicago’s most disruptive player up front and continually finds his way into the backfield. He has a team-high 7.5 sacks to go along with 31 tackles, two passes defensed and a forced fumble. Young is only one of seven Bears defenders who have played in all 12 games.

Tracy Porter, CB: The nine-year veteran typically shadows opponents’ best receiver and helps anchor a secondary that ranks sixth in pass defense (220.3 yards). He has started every game and rarely misses any defensive snaps. Porter has 38 tackles, eight passes defensed, two INTS and a forced fumble.

Intangibles

Out for revenge: As if closing in on the franchise’s first division title in 23 years wasn’t enough motivation, the Lions loss to the lowly Bears in Week 4 should put a chip on their shoulder. It was perhaps Detroit’s poorest showing as backup QB Brian Hoyer gashed the defense and Chicago racked up 408 total yards of offense en route to their first of three victories this season.

Wounded Bears: The second meeting between the teams will have a much different look. Chicago will be without several key players, including TE Zach Miller and QB Jay Cutler (both on IR) as well as WR Alshon Jeffrey and LB Jerrell Freeman (both serving four-game suspensions).

Playoff push: With the mad dash to the postseason entering its final stretch, this is another must-win game for the Lions. While Detroit sits atop its division and is the No. 3 seed in the NFC, it could still grab the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye. It won’t be easy, though, as the Lions close out the regular season against the Giants (8-4), Cowboys (11-1) and Packers (6-6).

Detroit News predictions: Lions vs. Bears

Sealing the deal: Rookie S Miles Killebrew clinched last week’s win with his first INT on the game’s final play. It was the third straight game the Lions have recorded an INT in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter, pushing their league-leading total to five INTs in late-game situations.

Next man up: The Lions have persevered through key losses on defense and last week was no different without top LBs DeAndre Levy and Tahir Whitehead. Now Detroit will have to adjust as it’ll be without primary nickel corner Quandre Diggs (shoulder) for the rest of the season.

Facts and figures

■ After a 1-3 start, the Lions have won seven of eight, including five in a row at Ford Field and four straight overall. It’s the best eight-game stretch in a season since 1991 when Detroit won seven of its final eight games.

■ The Bears are 0-6 on the road, with three losses by at least 14 points.

■ Detroit’s defense has held opponents to 20 points or less in six consecutive games, the first time the Lions have accomplished the feat since the final six weeks of the 1991 season.

■ K Matt Prater is coming off his first five-FG game and has made 13 straight over the past four games.

■ Since 2015, QB Matthew Stafford has thrown 41 TDs and zero INTs in the red zone.

■ A'Shawn Robinson has six batted passes, tied for fourth among rookie defensive linemen since 2000.

■ Per makenflplayoffs.com, the Lions have an 88.7 percent chance of making the playoffs and 80.6 percent chance of winning the NFC North.