Five things to watch: Lions at Bears

By Matt Schoch
The Detroit News
The last time Lions receiver Kenny Golladay returned home to Chicago, he hauled in six catches for 78 yards and a TD at Soldier Field.

When Logan Thomas couldn’t come down with the jump ball at the end of last week’s loss in Oakland, we entered into a new phase of the Lions’ season and the Matt Patricia era.

The playoffs are just a pipe dream, with Football Outsiders giving Detroit just a 7.4% chance of making the postseason.

It’s only a matter of time before that percentage becomes zero, marking another wasted year of your life waiting on this franchise to get it together.

The goal still is clearly to win until the Lions are mathematically eliminated, but there’s an even more significant question that needs to be answered.

Is Patricia up to the task?

It presumably would take a bottoming out of epic proportions in the final eight games for the coach and general manager Bob Quinn to be shown the door on Black Monday.

But, for fans who want to spend the offseason with a belief for better days, a second half with more wins than losses could go a long way.

It’s bleak, but it’s all we’ve got.

Here are five things to watch when the Lions visit the Bears (1 p.m. CBS/760):

The Bear minimum

Asking a defensive “guru” to field even a passable unit on that side of the ball doesn’t seem like too much to ask, but apparently we need to lower the bar.

The dreadful Mitchell Trubisky is the perfect “test” for a defense to show… something. Playmakers need to emerge, punts need to be forced, and points must be kept to a minimum.

Return of the Mack?

I can’t just let this opportunity to pay homage to Mark Morrison’s jam just pass.

Khalil Mack was No. 1 or No. 1A in the discussion of league’s top defensive player with Aaron Donald last year.

But after 12½ sacks in 14 games a year ago, Mack’s sacks are at 5½ after eight games this year. Call it a hunch: Feels like Mack goes nuts.

Happy Golladay

It’s a homecoming for wide receiver Kenny Golladay, who grew up in Chicago as a Bears fan.

The last time Golladay played in Soldier Field was one day short of a year ago Sunday, and Matthew Stafford made sure his top receiver had his chance to shine. Golladay was targeted 13 times in that game, a career high at the time, and scored a touchdown in a 34-22 loss against his childhood team. 

Other Lions from Illinois include guard Graham Glasgow and cornerbacks Rashaan Melvin and Mike Ford.

Something incredible

You can say a lot about the Lions, and you definitely should. But one thing you can’t say is these guys are boring.

Six of Detroit’s eight games have been legitimately thrilling this year, producing the kinds of communal, water-cooler moments that no other sport or local franchise can conjure.

They usually leave you wishing there was something stronger in there than water, but it’s entertaining.

Bad beat?

The public likes the Lions.

According to bookies.com, 57% of public money has been wagered on the Lions, pushing the line from 3 points to 2½ in favor of the Bears.

Writer Adam Thompson notes that the Bears haven’t covered the spread in four straight games, although the Lions have covered just once in their last seven November contests. Pick your poison.

Matt Schoch is a freelance writer.