The Chicago Bears head to Detroit this Sunday, in a big late year divisional matchup. The Bears and Lions already played a thriller back in Week 10, where the Lions snuck by late in a 31-30 final. Both teams look vastly different on both sides of the ball since then, so this game could play out differently.
If everything goes according to plan, the Lions are still in contention for a playoff spot. With home field advantage and playoff hopes still possible, expect the Lions to treat this matchup like a playoff game.
The two teams looked to evenly matched earlier in the season, but with Roquan Smith being dealt to Baltimore, and the Bears dealing with extensive injuries at both wide receiver and cornerback, it might not be as close.
Due to these injuries, there look to be a few “Matchup Nightmares” coming into the game. Here are the three most concerning matchups this Sunday.
Josh Blackwell vs Amon-Ra St. Brown
This is the most clear and obvious disadvantage that the Bears have coming into Sunday. Amon-Ra St. Brown has been on an absolute tear so far this season, averaging 6.9 receptions and 75 yards a game. A lot of St. Brown’s production comes from the slot, which is where Josh Blackwell will likely spend the majority of his time. He actually played 63% of defensive snaps for the Bears last week. Blackwell has been doing a fine job in a relief role for the Bears but doesn’t have much experience.
Blackwell has been primarily a special teams player this year, seeing his first ever defensive snaps just a few weeks ago in the Bears loss to the Packers. Amon-Ra St. Brown has been tearing apart some of the best slot cornerbacks in the league and will likely have no problem this Sunday against Blackwell and the rest of this Bears secondary.
Justin Jones vs Frank Ragnow/Jonah Jackson
The entire Chicago Bears defensive line has been very unproductive this season. The Bears rank 30th in run defense and 32nd in sacks per game. Justin Jones has been the only somewhat reliable member of this Bears defensive front. Jones had an impressive game last week against the Bills, holding his ground in the run game and generating pressures in the pass game.
However, this week’s matchup is going to be much more challenging. Frank Ragnow is a having a great year and was rewarded by being named to his second Pro Bowl. Jonah Jackson is a young and talented guard who was a 2021 Pro Bowler.
If the Bears want to stand any change in the trenches this week, Justin Jones is going to have to have his best outing against one of the top center/guard duos in the NFL.
Braxton Jones vs Aiden Hutchinson
This matchup has the chance to be an entertaining one, if Braxton Jones plays up to competition. Overall, Braxton Jones has played just about as good as he’s been able to play so far this season. You could argue that aside from Teven Jenkins, Jones has been the most consistent offensive lineman for the Bears.
However, Aiden Hutchinson is looking to finish a very productive rookie season off with a trip to the playoffs. In 15 games, Hutchinson has 7 sacks, 2 interceptions and 13 QB hits. He also had one of his better games in Chicago in their first meeting where he had 8 solo tackles and a sack.
Because Hutchinson had such a productive game in their first meeting, I’d expect to see Jones get some help in pass protection.
Both Braxton Jones and Riley Rieff will likely see plenty of Aiden Hutchinson this week, and both need to be able to hold their ground and give Justin Fields enough time to make plays and try to walk out of Detroit with a win.