An NFC North rivalry is rekindled on Sunday afternoon, as the Detroit Lions will head to Soldier Field in Chicago to take on the Bears. Detroit was able to come out on top in Week 9 against another divisional opponent in the Green Bay Packers, taking care of business at home 15-9. The Bears found themselves in an exciting shootout with the Miami Dolphins last Sunday, but fell just short 35-32.
While there is still time before the regular season ends in January, a loss for either team might end their playoff hopes. Here are three things we’ll be watching for on Sunday.
Justin Fields’ Ascension
Last week opened a lot of eyes with regards to the potential that Justin Fields has in his NFL future. He was able to lead scoring drives through the air and with his legs against the Miami Dolphins, using his elite athletic ability to run circles around their defense. Fields still has what many consider to be below average weapons around him, but he might be proving that his talent might just be good enough to carry a team for a few weeks.
The Lions’ defense hasn’t been much to be concerned with for most of the year, so it is expected that Fields will be able to keep his hot streak going. It’s an extremely encouraging development for Chicago, traded a lot away to be able to select Fields. When all is said and done, he might be the best quarterback selected in the first round of 2022 NFL Draft.
D’Andre Swift’s Usage
There’s no questioning the ability that Detroit Lions running back D’Andre Swift possesses. The major red flag throughout his career has been his health, and the Lions appear to be conscious of trying to protect him from injury. He only played 10 snaps last week against the Packers, compared to Jamaal Williams’ 38.
The reservation about allowing Swift to resume a full workload is understandable, but this lack of usage is also a bit puzzling. If he’s only going to be available for 10 snaps per week, it’s hard to justify having him on the active roster on gameday. Maybe his touches and time spent on the field increase against Chicago, which will be a true indicator of how healthy the Lions feel Swift is.
Turning The Tides
It’s no secret that the Lions and Bears don’t really get the respect that their two other division mates receive. It’s the Green Bay Packers, followed by the Minnesota Vikings, trailed by the Lions and Bears, who perennially seem to be in rebuilding mode.
Despite being lumped into the same unflattering category, the Bears have definitively had their way with the Lions over the past few years. Chicago has defeated Detroit in seven of their last eight meetings, which is not something most fans would expect. In their first matchup of this season, the Lions will look to put recent history in the rear view mirror by notching a road victory.