Perhaps the biggest talking point from the last game which saw the Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears butt heads was the surprising effectiveness of Detroit's running game. Reggie Bush had a nearly unstoppable day, and that was what doomed Chicago the most on defense during one of their worst performances against Detroit in a decade.
The Lions, who have never enjoyed great success running on the usually tough Bears, rushed for a whopping 159 yards and a score on the ground. It was their best rushing performance against Chicago in a very, very long time and provided the offense plenty of balance to keep the Bears on their heels
Since that day, things have only gotten worse for the Bears. Faced with the loss of Henry Melton, who's first game removed was that Sunday at Detroit, Chicago has gotten torched on the ground in the next four games.. They've given up an ugly total of 595 yards on the ground and six touchdowns. That's not exactly the prideful Bears of the past two decades.
Without Melton and with the team not being able to stop much of anyone on the ground, Chicago has plummeted to 22nd in the league in run defense. That's a full 11 places lower than Detroit, who's been good enough to knock on the door of the top ten most of the year. What a difference a year makes for both teams, as it was the Lions who could not stop ground games last fall.
This weekend, the Lions must rediscover that ground dominance to win on the road at Soldier Field. How important might the running game be? During Detroit's last win in Chicago in October of 2007, the ground game pounded out 119 yards and the team's only touchdown of the day to help seal the win. Since then, the biggest output the Lions have rushed for in the Windy City is 97 yards last season, which was also the closest game in Chicago recently. With that knowledge, it's not tough to see how Detroit is riding a five game losing streak into Sunday's match up which has featured plenty of disappointment.
Should Detroit find success on the ground, they may win reasonably easily on the road considering the overall health of the passing game and Matthew Stafford recently. Running the ball well with Bush and Joique Bell will allow the Lions to control the clock and physically push around a defense which has had major problems across the board this year.
A Detroit victory in Chicago will only happen if the ground game shows up again. It certainly doesn't have to be 159 yards, but Detroit should probably find a way to go over 100 if they want to sweep the season series from the Bears.
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