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Halas Intrigue Bears Report: Previewing Week 13 vs. Lions

The Bears look to give their fans something to be thankful for Thursday in Detroit.

Bears’ Roquan Smith pursues the Lions’ Kenny Golladay
Dave Reginek/Getty Images

The good: The Lions are down to their third-string quarterback. David Blough will start in place of backup Jeff Driskel — and will take his first-ever NFL snaps today.

The bad: Six Bears — including starting tight end Ben Braunecker, starting right tackle Bobby Massie and receiver Taylor Gabriel — won’t play against the Lions.

The ugly: Since a 38-carry, 162-yard rushing outburst against the Chargers in Week 8, the Bears’ running game has reverted to form — an average of 70 yards per game and 3.1 yards per carry in their last four games.

Let’s get to it ...

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Offense: New Week, New Tweaks

Mitch Trubisky says the Bears need “more everything on offense,” but how many big changes can the team really make entering Week 13? For one, Matt Nagy says he’s heeding his quarterback’s calls to speed up the tempo more often in an effort to get him going earlier in games, Mark Potash writes.

Did you know?

  • QB Mitch Trubisky has accounted for 6 TDs (5 passing, 1 rushing) in his last three games.
  • It’s become impossible to ignore the Bears’ lack of production at tight end, especially with injuries elevating rookie Jesper Horstead into a starting role Thursday. Horstead, who posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons at Princeton, says he’s ready to step up, but it’s been difficult for Matt Nagy to work tight ends into the passing game since Trey Burton went down.

Defense: Time to Sing Again?

A year ago, the Bears punctuated a Thanksgiving Day victory over the Lions with a defense-wide musical end zone celebration after a Kyle Fuller interception. It’s fair to say the unit is hoping for a similar display Thursday amid a season when those takeaways haven’t occurred at the same rate, Patrick Finley writes.

Last season’s defense led the NFL with 27 interceptions and 36 takeaways, but its just 25th in interceptions and 10th in takeaways this season. With Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford again sidelined, this could be a chance for the secondary to break out.

Did you know?

  • The Lions are one of just four teams with multiple players (Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones) who have 700 or more receiving yards this season. The Buccaneers, Browns and Cowboys are others. Regardless of who’s throwing the ball, those two aren’t easy to shut down.
  • The Bears’ starting safeties last season, Eddie Jackson and Adrian Amos, combined for 24 passes defended in 16 games. This season’s duo, Jackson and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, have just seven through 11 games.
  • The Bears’ defense ranks fourth in the NFL and second in the NFC in fewest points allowed per game (17.1).

Special Teams: Patterson Keeps It Real

A Cordarrelle Patterson kick return might be one of the most exciting things that happens during a Bears game these days. The Pro Bowl returner lamented how some players might not care much about special teams given it doesn’t lead to big paydays, but he sees how it allows certain players to carve out quality careers, Jason Lieser writes.

“Some guys, that’s all they do is play special teams. That’s their only job, so they go out there and play their heart out,” Patterson said.

Did you know?

  • Cordarrelle Patterson is averaging an NFC-best 29.6 yards per kick return.

What They’re Saying

  • Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson’s parents have attended every game he’s ever played. “Whatever we do, if we have to move water, it doesn’t matter, we are now never missing a game. Our son is out there on the field, and he’s out there, we’re in the stands,” his mother, Teri, told The Detroit News.

From Our Notebooks

  • The Lions are one of just four teams with multiple players (Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones) who have 700 or more receiving yards this season. The Buccaneers, Browns and Cowboys are other others. Even with Stafford out, the Bears’ secondary will have work to do.
  • Is time running out for QB Mitch Trubisky in Chicago? The Bears can’t wait forever hoping for an Alex Smith-like change in his development trajectory, Jason Lieser writes.
  • At a crossroads in his Bears coaching career, Matt Nagy faces a difficult series of questions. For now, though, there’s only one question to focus on: Can they beat the Lions?

What’s Next?

After the Lions game, the Bears have a full week off before appearing on “Thursday Night Football” at home against the Cowboys, then a 10-day break before visiting the Packers on Dec. 15.

On the Podcast

In the latest edition of Halas Intrigue, the hosts make their predictions for the Thanksgiving Day matchup between the Bears and Lions.

Also, got any questions for the Bears? Email us or tweet at @suntimes_sports and we’ll see if we can get them answered in one of our next newsletters.

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