December 17, 2014

While the Chicago Bears should have stability at the top of their coaching staff, Jim Caldwell's status with the Detroit Lions appears a little murkier heading into the season finale.

The Lions will seek to wrap up their losing campaign on a positive note by matching their longest win streak against their NFC North rivals on Sunday at Soldier Field.

Detroit has already switched team presidents with Rod Wood taking over for a fired Tom Lewand in November and the franchise is seeking a new general manager to replace Martin Mayhew. When that GM is hired, he's expected to decide Caldwell's fate with the Lions.

Detroit finished 11-5 and reached the playoffs in his initial season but couldn't overcome a 1-7 start in this one. Caldwell might have aided his chances by winning five of the past seven games, including each of the past two, but the Lions (6-9) will finish with a losing record for the 13th time in 15 years.

"I approach it just like I do any other day that I've coached in my life, 1978, when I first started coaching," he said. "Any day could be my last day, so it's no different for me."

Star receiver Calvin Johnson is among those speaking up in favor of Caldwell's return.

"I love him. Everybody in the locker room would probably say the same thing. He commands respect, but he doesn't have to do much, it's just his character guys gravitate toward," he said. "Guys see that he's a great person, he's a great coach and guys are going to fight for that. We didn't start like we wanted to, but we're going to do our best to finish the best that we can."

Chicago (6-9) wasn't consistent enough in coach John Fox's first season to seriously challenge for a playoff berth, and the Bears have some tough decisions to make while also seeking to fill holes in their roster in the offseason. Top running back Matt Forte and leading receiver Alshon Jeffery are among those who have expiring contracts.

"A lot of us want to stay together," said linebacker Sam Acho, who also has an expiring contract. "I think we all see that we're building toward something. Yeah, our record is 6-9 at this point. But we see the hope and we see that we're building toward something. We see the changes, especially guys that were on the team the past couple years."

Jeffery, limited to nine games by injuries, won't play in this one because of an ailing hamstring. Nose tackle and second-round draft pick Eddie Goldman is out with an injured right ankle.

The Bears also might have to see if offensive coordinator Adam Gase or defensive coordinator Vic Fangio are candidates for head coaching jobs. Gase's hiring appeared to play a role in an improved Jay Cutler, and the quarterback has a career-best 92.8 rating while throwing eight interceptions in 14 games, his lowest rate.

The Lions' Matthew Stafford had a season-high 405 yards and four touchdowns to outduel Cutler (353 yards, 1 TD) in a 37-34 overtime win Oct. 18. That was Detroit's lone victory in its horrendous start.

Stafford has 14 touchdowns and one interception over the past six games, and he needs 36 yards to reach 4,000 for a fifth consecutive season. He had 301 yards and a pair of scores in a 32-17 win over San Francisco last Sunday.

Stafford has averaged 299.8 yards while throwing 10 TDs and five interceptions in the Lions' five-game win streak against Chicago. Cutler has averaged 300 yards in his last four matchups, but has seven interceptions and six TDs.

The Lions have won six straight in the series just once, from 1968-1970.

Johnson had a season-high 166 yards and a touchdown on six catches in the latest victory against the Bears. He has totaled 498 yards and five touchdowns in Detroit's past four matchups.

Lance Moore also had a season-high 106 yards on five receptions.

The Lions have won their past two games in Chicago - by a combined eight points - to match their victory total from the previous 12 visits.

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