Bears vs. Lions — What to Watch 4

In his last eight games, Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown has 61 receptions for 706 yards (88.3 average) — only the Vikings’ Justin Jefferson has more catches in that span, and only Jefferson and the Raiders’ Davante Adams have more yards.

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Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (14, being tackled by Bears linebacker Jack Sanborn) had 10 receptions for 119 yards in the Lions 31-30 victory over the Bears on Nov. 13 at Soldier Field.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Key matchup

Second-year wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown has emerged as an elite weapon in a Lions offense that ranks fourth in the NFL in yards and eighth in passing yards.

St. Brown, the brother of Bears wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, has 96 receptions for 1,050 yards (10.9 average) and six touchdowns. But he has been even better in the Lions’ run to playoff contention. In the last eight games (six of them victories), St. Brown’s 706 yards (88.3 average) are third behind the Vikings’ Justin Jefferson (71-1,004) and the Raiders’ Davante Adams (50-778), and his 61 receptions are second only to Jefferson.

St. Brown had 10 catches (on 11 targets) for 119 yards in the Lions’ 31-30 victory over the Bears at Soldier Field in Week 10 — his highest yardage total on the road in his career. His other 100-yard games this season have come at Ford Field — 9-116 vs. the Commanders, 11-114 vs. the Jaguars and 9-122 vs. the Bills.

With Jaylon Johnson out, rookie Kyler Gordon is the Bears’ lead cornerback. Gordon has had typical rookie ups and downs but has been better lately, with interceptions against the Eagles’ Jalen Hurts and the Bills’ Josh Allen the last two games.

The secondary, in fact, while having lost Johnson and Eddie Jackson since that first game, actually has been better recently. But the Lions’ offense at Ford Field will be a huge test.

Trending

The Bears’ league-leading rushing game (179.7 average) stalled against the Bills — 80 yards on 29 carries (2.8 average), with Justin Fields held to seven carries for 11 yards — his lowest rushing total of the season.

But the Lions are not the Bills. In fact, the Lions’ defense allowed 320 rushing yards (and 570 total yards) to the Panthers last week — the most -rushing yards allowed in a game this season. The Lions are 32nd and last in the NFL in total defense and scoring defense — allowing 409.9 yards and 26.7 points per game.

Player to watch

For some Bears fans, Justin Fields is the only reason to watch the last two games. Fields still leads NFL quarterbacks in rushing yards with 1,011, but is last in passing yards (154.8 per game).

Fields was one mistake away from a stellar game against the Lions in Week 10. Besides rushing 13 times for 147 yards and two touchdowns, his passer rating was 140.0 (10-for-15, 154 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions), until an ill-advised pass under pressure that Jeff Okudah intercepted and returned 20 yards for a touchdown.

X-factor

The Bears (3-12) are playing out the string, but the Lions (7-8) are in playoff contention — new -territory for many of them, though quarterback Jared Goff is a notable exception. After crapping out last week against the Panthers, the pressure is on the Lions to play like contenders at home. -

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