Bears vs. Lions: 5 things to watch (and a prediction) for Week 17 matchup

With the No. 2 overall pick in the 2023 NFL draft within reach, the Chicago Bears (3-12) will take on the Detroit Lions (7-8), who are playoff hopefuls in coach Dan Campbell’s second year.

The Bears will have a chance to play spoiler, giving the Lions their second consecutive loss and hurting their chances of making the playoffs. But, for second-year quarterback Justin Fields, it’s also an opportunity to improve his record against NFC North opponents and continue building excitement for 2023.

As we enter the new year, here are five things to watch in Chicago’s Week 17 matchup – and a final prediction!

Justin Fields is closing in on the NFL rushing record

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The Bears’ second-year quarterback has exploded onto the scene as an electric dual-threat quarterback this year. Justin Fields has rushed for 1,011 yards and eight touchdowns and is only 195 yards away from breaking Lamar Jackson’s NFL record for most rushing yards by a quarterback in a season.

Cole Kmet vs. Lions' secondary

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This year the Lions have struggled to defend tight ends, allowing five receptions for 54 yards and nearly a touchdown per game. Back in the Week 10 matchup, Cole Kmet took advantage of Detroit’s weakness with four receptions for 74 yards and two touchdowns.

In their last three games, the Lions have allowed tight ends to catch for more than 70 yards receiving and average one touchdown per game. So for Kmet, his breakout season should continue on Sunday.

Re-establishing the run

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Despite having the best rushing offense in the NFL with 179.7 yards per game, Chicago was held to only 80 yards rushing against Buffalo last week. The Lions are near the bottom in rushing defense (28th), so with the Bears running back group at full strength, look for the run game to get back on track. The last time Chicago played Detroit, they totaled 258 rushing yards.

Bears defense vs. Lions RBs

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Last week the Panthers (21st-ranked run defense) held the Lions to their lowest rushing production of the year with 45 yards. It was an embarrassing loss for Detroit, who trailed 31-13 entering the fourth quarter.

With Detroit falling behind early, the game script didn’t support running the ball. As a result, running backs Jamaal Williams and D’Andre Swift only had 11 rushing attempts and are averaging 23 per game.

But can the Bears hold Detroit to 95 yards rushing as they did in Week 10? Or will they look like last week’s team allowing 254 yards rushing to Buffalo?

St. Brown brothers rematch

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In the last matchup, the younger brother, Amon-Ra St. Brown, got the better of his big brother Equanimeous.

Not only did the Lions come away with the win, but Amon-Ra had 10 receptions for 119 yards. On the Bears’ sideline, Equanimeous had zero targets and two rushing attempts for nine yards.

This week gives Equanimeous a chance to get back at his little brother as the Bears look to win their second matchup against the Lions and spoil Detroit’s playoff hopes.

Final Prediction: Bears 28, Lions 26

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Sunday is one of the final two games of the season. So, the current Bears roster is auditioning for next year.

While Justin Fields has said the right things, and his toughness is unmatched, he’s 1-7 against NFC North opponents. He has two weeks to let the division know that the Chicago Bears are for real – beating Detroit and Minnesota will do that. So throw out the stats, and win.

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Story originally appeared on Bears Wire