2020 Season Preview: Week 1 Lions vs. Bears
Jason Ross Jr.
The 2019 campaign didn’t go the way that the Bears or Lions would’ve hoped.
Detroit finished last in the NFC North for the second consecutive year, collecting just three wins. Meanwhile, Chicago fell from a 12-victory, NFC North-winning season in 2018 to eight wins and a third-place divisional finish in 2019.
The two longtime NFC North rivals are set to clash in Week 1 of the 2020 season, as both sides aim for a reversal of fortunes in the new decade.
Let’s examine what went wrong for both teams in 2019 and how they’ve attempted to rectify their issues in the offseason:
Unlike Detroit, the Bears put up stout defensive numbers for a second consecutive year, but were unable to get any run support from their offense.
The 17.5 points per game were nearly 10 less than what they averaged in 2018 (26.3), while the 296.8 total yards were down from 343.9.
Chicago appeared to have its QB of the future in Mitchell Trubisky, but have now shifted gears into what could be the Nick Foles era.
The 2018 Super Bowl MVP was acquired via trade in the offseason from Jacksonville.
The Bears also made a notable shake-up in the coaching staff by bringing in new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor.
Lazor and Foles worked together in Philadelphia during a 2013 campaign in which Foles threw for a career-best 27 touchdowns and two interceptions.
As mentioned, the Chicago defense was stellar, allowing the fourth-fewest points at 18.6 per game.
It did, however, lose defensive tackle Nick Williams, who signed with the Lions this offseason after producing the best statistical season of his career.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, a former Pro Bowl safety, also departed to Dallas.
The Detroit offense could be bound for a prolific season with the return of a healthy Matthew Stafford, accompanied by a deep receiving group.
The defense is what most fans are still worried about when it comes to thinking about Week 1 of 2020.
The Lions’ offseason has been highlighted by acquiring defensive back Jeff Okudah with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Okudah will enter Detroit the same year as his new defensive coordinator Cory Undlin, who comes over from Philadelphia after spending the last five seasons as the team's defensive backs coach.
To continue the Philadelphia theme, Detroit opted to move on from All-Pro cornerback Darius Slay, trading him away to the Eagles.
Veteran Desmond Trufant is a new piece, along with Okudah, that Detroit hopes to move forward with at defensive back.
The secondary struggled in 2019 and so did the defensive line.
Detroit signed linebacker Jamie Collins, in addition to drafting EDGE rusher Julian Okwara -- two pieces that could free up defensive end Trey Flowers to have more success in 2020.
What Happened Last Season
The Lions failed to win a game against the Bears and all of their NFC North divisional rivals in 2019.
And both of Detroit's contests with Chicago a season ago came without signal-caller Matthew Stafford.
Stafford had injured his back in Week 9 against the Raiders, and was unable to play the rest of the year, including in the subsequent week at Soldier Field against the Bears.
Career backup Jeff Driskel proceeded to start in his place, and the Lions failed to generate much offense in a 20-13 loss.
Less than three weeks later, the two squads squared off in a Thanksgiving tilt with each other.
This time, undrafted rookie David Blough started under center for Matt Patricia & Co. It marked Blough's first career NFL start.
In it, he played well, but the results were unsurprisingly the same. Detroit dropped the contest, 24-20.
Detroit failed to win a game the rest of the way, finishing the season on a nine-game losing streak and with a highly disappointing 3-12-1 record.
The Lions play what should be a playoff-bound Packers team in Week 2. So, Week 1 feels like a game that carries added pressure.
Neither team wants a repeat of 2019, and both have appeared to put an emphasis on fixing their weaknesses this offseason.
The Lions' highly-anticipated offense vs. a tough Bears defense could make for a compelling matchup at Ford Field on September 13.