Watch Video: Fantasy Football: Week 5 RB advice
After two disappointing losses, the Chicago Bears may have turned around their season last week with a thrilling defensive stand in a surprising win.
The Detroit Lions, meanwhile, hope a major shake-up in the front office can get their season on track.
The Bears look to build on their latest victory on Sunday when they visit the winless Lions, who play their first game in eight years without Matt Millen as the team’s president.
Chicago (2-2) opened the season in impressive fashion with a 29-13 victory at Indianapolis, but followed that stunning win with a couple of flops.
The Bears blew a 14-point lead in a 20-17 loss at Carolina in Week 2 and had a 10-point advantage vanish in the closing minutes of regulation in a 27-24 overtime loss to Tampa Bay in Week 3. Last Sunday night against Philadelphia, Chicago’s four-point lead was in danger, but the defense came up with an impressive stand.
In the final minutes of the fourth quarter, the Eagles drove 75 yards and had second down at the 1 before Chicago’s defense came up with three straight goal line stops, and the Bears hung on to win 24-20.
“That goal line stand is going to be a big boost for us the rest of the season,” safety Mike Brown said. “We needed that. It was the fourth quarter again, we’re down to the nitty gritty. We’re up a couple points. We needed that. We came up and played big. It was huge.”
The win moved the Bears into a first-place tie with Green Bay in the mediocre NFC North.
While Chicago has led in the fourth quarter of every game it’s played, Detroit (0-3) has yet to hold a lead this season.
The Lions, coming off a much-needed bye, have fallen behind 21-0, 21-0 and 21-3 in the first half of their first three games, respectively.
Despite being off last week, Detroit still made headlines as Millen was fired as team president on Sept. 24. The Lions were an NFL-worst 31-84 since 2001 with Millen in charge, and hope this move can motivate the players.
“Our cloud is being 0-3,” quarterback Jon Kitna said. “Unfortunately, that cost a man his job and you should take that a little personal.”
Kitna sprained his right knee in Detroit’s 31-13 loss to San Francisco in Week 3, but coach Rod Marinelli recently said he appears healthy.
Kitna is off to a slow start, throwing for five touchdowns and five interceptions, as the Lions are 26th in total offense (308.3 yards per game) and 22nd in scoring (19.7 points per game).
“Is the way the offense is going frustrating? Yes, but when you are 0-3, everything is frustrating,” Kitna said. “This isn’t much fun.”
As much as its offense has been struggling, Detroit’s defense is even worse. It’s last in the league in total yards (433.7 ypg) and last in scoring (37.7 ppg).
While the Lions are off to a disastrous start, they had some success against the Bears last season, sweeping the two-game series after getting swept in 2005 and ’06. Kitna has thrown for 1,028 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions in four games against Chicago since joining Detroit.
Lions running back Rudi Johnson ran for 83 yards against the 49ers and scored Detroit’s only touchdown on a 34-yard screen pass after seeing limited action in the first two games. Johnson, signed as a free agent on Sept. 2, appears to be taking over for rookie Kevin Smith, but the running game may have trouble against the Bears, who have the league’s sixth-best rush defense (79.3 ypg).
Chicago’s offense had four turnovers last week as it struggled at times against the Eagles, but it shouldn’t have as much trouble against a Lions defense that has forced only one turnover.
The Bears averaged 152.0 rushing yards in their first three games, but came out throwing against Philadelphia, as Kyle Orton threw for 174 yards and three touchdowns in the first half. Orton, though, had 25 yards passing in the second half and threw two interceptions for the second straight game.
Orton might be without his favorite receiver on Sunday, though, as Brandon Lloyd left last week’s game in the second quarter with a knee injury. Lloyd, who has 15 receptions for a team-high 249 yards, did not participate in practice on Wednesday.
Rookie Matt Forte was held to 43 yards on 19 carries last Sunday after averaging 101.3 rushing yards in his first three contests. Forte could have better luck against the Lions, who are last in the league in run defense, allowing 207.7 yards per game.