Three weeks ago after a last-second win over the Washington Football team, the Detroit Lions could entertain thoughts of a playoff push. But two consecutive embarrassing losses resulted in an organizational shakeup, with Coach Matt Patricia and General Manager Bob Quinn being fired.
In three weeks, the Lions went from playoff contender to hitting reset and facing an entire team rebuild. The only reprieve for a Detroit group that has lost four of its last five games is that it’s playing an organization as dysfunctional as its own right now. The Chicago Bears have lost their last five games, including a 41-25 loss to the Green Bay Packers in a game where the score is misleading because the contest wasn’t that close.
Currently, oddsmakers don’t see the Lions (4-7) having a rallying moment in the wake of Patricia’s firing. The Bears (5-6) are 3-point favorites with a -165 moneyline. Detroit’s moneyline sits at +145, while the total points is set at 44.5.
Betting on the Lions at any of the land-based casino sportsbooks has not been profitable as of late. Detroit is 0-4-1 against the spread in its last five games.
Lion interim coach Darrell Bevell is one of the more experienced coordinators in the league. He’s held an offensive coordinator role for every season but one since 2006. Sunday will be the first time he leads a team as a head coach, and how the Lions respond to his leadership will be one of the main points of interest for the faithful in Michigan.
With any coaching change, there’s typical talk of an offense looking to “speed things up” or go more uptempo — all of that is usually just coach-speak. Seriously, when have you ever heard a coach ever say they wanted to slow things down or be more methodical? That never riles up a fanbase.
And while Bevell has remained relatively quiet on what fans can expect from the offense on Sunday, Detroit offensive tackle Taylor Decker snuck in the uptempo talk this week.
“One thing that Bev has always preached to our offense, and now as the head coach, is pace in and out of the huddle,” Decker said. “Running plays fast, getting up to the line of scrimmage, line up, run the play. Because pace as an offense is a weapon.”
It remains to be seen what changes will be made with Detroit’s offense, but in his first press conference as interim head coach, Bevell mentioned he had plenty of control to run the offense under Patricia.
“I think (Matt Patricia) gave me a lot of leeway to run the offense,” Bevell said during Monday’s press conference. “There’s a lot of things that are going on on offense when you’re trying to maximize the skill sets of the guys that you have, and the weaknesses that you have, you’re trying to let them show up.”
Bevell’s offense could receive help if wide receiver Kenny Golladay (hip) and running back D’Andre Swift (concussion) make a return to the field on Sunday. Both missed last Thursday’s 41-25 loss to the Houston Texans.
On Wednesday, Bears coach Matt Nagy made it official by naming Mitchell Trubisky the starting quarterback for Sunday’s game. Nick Foles is still nursing a hip injury he suffered in the Minnesota Vikings loss on Nov. 16. Foles returned to practice as a limited participant on Wednesday, but doesn’t appear healthy enough to make a complete return.
Trubisky’s fourth-quarter comeback against the Lions in Week 1 seems a far way off. He rallied the Bears from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit by throwing three TDs for a 27-23 win.
Since then, Trubisky lost his starting job because of poor play, only to return against the Green Bay Packers last week and turn the ball over three times with two interceptions and a lost fumble for a Packers scoop-and-score.
But perhaps Trubisky can get back on track against a unit he’s already torched. Nearly every quarterback that’s faced Detroit has had success with the Lions’ 31st-ranked scoring defense (29.8 points per game).