The chances of the Detroit Lions playing their first snow game of the season Sunday against the Chicago Bears have greatly diminished, and that's good news for Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson.
"I think the weather’s trending our direction a little bit," Johnson said Thursday.
Game day temperatures Sunday in Chicago are forecasted to hit a high of 37 degrees with a 16% chance of precipitation, down from around 50% earlier this week, according to Weather.com. Wind gusts of 10 to 20 mph still could be a factor, and Lions quarterbacks coach Mark Brunell said Wednesday "obviously we feel like we’re going to have to run the football" because of the elements.
The Lions (9-3) rank fourth in the NFL in rushing, while the Bears are tied for the league's best run defense.
"You have to be smart," Brunell said. "If it’s really windy, which it looks like it’s going to be, you have to call the game accordingly, understanding the conditions. But I feel pretty confident that our team has enough experience in these elements where, will it affect us? Maybe a little bit, but I think we’ll be just fine and should be able to execute our offense."
Johnson said he takes all elements of the forecast into account with his plan, from precipitation to temperature to where the sun will be at various points in the game.
The Lions struggled offensively in two outdoor December games last season. They beat the New York Jets, 20-17, on Dec. 18, 2022, in a game where they scored one offensive touchdown on a long catch-and-run late in the game, and lost to the Carolina Panthers, 37-23, on Dec. 24 when the kickoff temperature was 20 degrees.
They also beat the Green Bay Packers, 20-16, in a Week 18 game at Lambeau Field where the kickoff temperature was 21 degrees.
Lions quarterback Jared Goff said he had one of his best games ever in suboptimal conditions, when he threw for 311 yards and four touchdowns on a rainy but mild November day in a win over the New York Giants in 2017.
Goff said he could wear a glove on his throwing hand Sunday if the conditions warrant.
"Nothing I can do about (the weather)," Goff said. "So if it rains, it rains. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. We get to play indoors at home, which is great, but if you’re outdoors and there’s weather, you deal with it and you play. Guys do it every week, all around the league. I’ve done it my whole career, so you just deal with it."
Frank Ragnow did not practice for a second straight day because of his knee injury, while Bruce Irvin returned after sitting out Wednesday to rest his sore ankle. ... Lions assistant general manager Ray Agnew will take part in the NFL's front office and general manager accelerator event held at next week's winter meetings in Arlington, Texas. The event is designed to give minority GM candidates a chance to interact with NFL owners and their representatives. Agnew also took part in the event last winter.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Lions prepping for wind, not snow, Sunday in Chicago