Bears’ defense unfazed by Lions’ powerful offense

The Lions are second in the NFL in yards and sixth in points, including 41 against the Chargers last week. “They’re a good offense, but we’re a good defense,” DT Justin Jones said. “If we play our brand of football and everybody does what they’re supposed to do, we’re gonna be OK.”

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Bears defensive end Rasheem Green (94) sacks Panthers quarterback Bryce Young in the Beasr’ 16-13 victory last Thursday night at Soldier Field. The Bears sacked Young three times.

Michael Reaves, Getty

After picking on the Panthers’ bottom-10 offense last week, the Bears’ defense has a much bigger challenge this week against a Lions offense that ranks second in yards, sixth in points and just scored 41 points against the Chargers last week.

Right?

“They’re a good offense, but we’re a good defense, too,” Bears defensive tackle Justin Jones said. “We’re No. 1 against the rush. We’re not no regular defense. We’re getting better as the weeks go by. So I feel like it’s a good matchup for them as well. And for us.”

The Bears’ defense is feeling pretty good about itself after getting its footing following a difficult opening month of the season. The Bears held the Commanders to 84 yards and three points in the first half before coasting to a 40-20 victory. They held Kirk Cousins and the Vikings’ offense to 220 total yards and 12 points in a 19-13 loss at Soldier Field. They held the Raiders to 235 yards and 12 points in a 30-12 victory. They held the Panthers to 213 yards and six points on offense in a 16-13 victory last Thursday night.

But most of that came against weaker offenses. Only the Vikings rank in the upper half of the NFL in points scored, but were without wide receiver Justin Jefferson. The Commanders are 17th in scoring. The Raiders are 27th. The Panthers are 24th.

The Lions are sixth. So what is the challenge of facing an actual top-10 scoring offense this week?

“None,” Jones said. “We just go out there and play our brand of football like we’ve been doing the last couple of weeks. The D-line’s been playing really, really good against the run. With our new addition [defensive end Montez Sweat], we’re playing a little better in the pass-rush game. I just feel like if we play our brand of football and everybody does what they’re supposed to do, we’re gonna be OK.”

Though the first-place Lions are a division rival that beat them 31-30 at Soldier Field and 41-10 at Ford Field last season and are coming off back-to-back games with 486 yards against the Raiders and 533 against the Chargers, the Bears’ defense doesn’t have this game circled on its calendar.

“Just honestly, we just want to go out there and dominate every game, no matter who it is,” cornerback Jaylon Johnson said. “I think we’ve been [building] a lot of steam. We’ve been doing a lot of really good [things] the last few weeks — building and stacking this week is no different. We’re going out there and dominating.”

Despite their bravado, the Bears’ defense still has plenty to prove. They’re second in the NFL in rushing yards allowed and first in yards per carry, but still are 27th in points allowed. And three weeks ago, they were coming off three positive defensive showings when they faced Justin Herbert and the Chargers at SoFi Stadium. Herbert threw for 298 yards and three touchdowns for a 122.7 passer rating in a 30-13 rout.

Since then, the Bears added Sweat, who had seven of the Bears’ 17 pressures against Panthers rookie quarterback Bruce Young last week, according to Pro Football Focus. If they can get 17 quarterback pressures against Pro Bowl left tackle Penei Sewell & Co., it’ll be even more impressive. That’s the challenge the defense faces Sunday, whether the players know it or not.

“We’re gonna be playing a good football team, and pressure can be generated a bunch of different ways,” coach Matt Eberflus said. “So we’re gonna have to find a way to get that done versus a really good offensive line.”

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