It will be a short week for the Chicago Bears as they will wrap up a tiring three games in a 12 day stretch on Thanksgiving this week against the Detroit Lions. The game will be the 17th time the two teams have met on turkey day. The two teams met less than two weeks ago in a 34-22 Bears win.
Although Chicago beat Detroit handily, it could be different outcome especially with significant injuries to both teams. Here are five keys to a Bears victory on Thanksgiving.
Daniel will be sitting at the head of the Bears offensive table
The biggest storyline up until game time Thursday will be the status of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky who suffered a shoulder injury in the Sunday night game against the Vikings. Chase Daniel will make his first start of the year and his third of his career. Head coach Matt Nagy will have a tough situation of either possibly changing his game plan or keeping everything the same.
Quality offensive coaches have shown the ability to get their quarterbacks ready who have been forced into action. San Francisco 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan had quarterback Nick Mullens for his first career start a few weeks ago on a short week.
Prep a different offensive meal for Daniel
If Daniel is forced to start, it would be smart for Nagy to play to his strengths as his two quarterbacks are different from one another. With Trubisky, the Bears have utilized his mobility and thrown deep often because of his strong arm. Daniel isn’t as mobile and relies more on accuracy more than arm strength. It could be a fortunate opportunity as the Bears offense passed deep earlier and often against the Lions in their first matchup.
A more tradition west coast offense of short passes could be the exact opposite of what the Lions defense could preparing for. The speed of Tarik Cohen, Taylor Gabriel, and Anthony Miller can be used on slant and screen routes instead of fly or deep post routes. The Bears offense can still put up points while taking more time off the clock with long sustained drives.
Be ready for the Lions to bite back.
It will be a revenge game for the Lions as they were dominated when the two teams first met back on the 11th of this month. The Lions will look have a bounce-back performance a quick score could swing momentum in their favor. It is imperative for the Bears defense to be ready given the possible situation of Daniel starting in place of Trubisky. Playing from behind could be crucial and provide unneeded momentum for a Lions team playing at home on Thanksgiving.
The Lions have nearly pulled upset before on the special day as back in 2012 they nearly beat the one-loss Houston Texans in overtime losing 34-31.
Force Stafford to try and carve the Bears defense up
Lions are dealing with significant injuries on offense as wide receiver Marvin Jones and rookie running back Kerryon Johnson will miss the game with knee injuries. Johnson not playing would be a tremendous break for the Bears as he has is their best running back recording two 100 yard games this season and is the only running back to score a rushing touchdown against the Bears defense this season.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford will have to beat a Bears defense that recorded two interceptions or more in six of their last seven games. Stafford was also sacked six times in the previous meeting and that was with both Johnson and Jones in the game.
Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio could take advantage of the Lions’ limitations on offense to make it a really rough day for their quarterback.
Keep Jordan Howard’s engine going in the motor city
On defense for the Lions, their game plan will be focused on stopping the passing game of the Bears as they allowed 355 passing yards. It would be a perfect time for Nagy to counter with the running back that did have success against the Vikings. Running back Jordan Howard should be a focal point as he was a silent contributor on offense rushing for 50 yards in the first half against the Vikings.
He was consistently gaining four to seven yards leaving the offense in manageable downs. Given the short week and quarterback situation having Howard stay consistent would be a tremendous boost on Thursday. It would be a good time for him to record his first 100-yard rushing game of the season as in four prior starts against the Lions, Howard has two 100 yard rushing games.