Lions, Bears meet with coaches hoping to return for 4th year
By Larry Lage
AP Sports Writer
DETROIT — The Detroit Lions need a lot to go their way to get a postseason spot for the second straight year and third time in Jim Caldwell’s four seasons.
“If we don’t handle our business, it doesn’t matter,” Lions receiver Golden Tate said.
In each of the last three games, that’s true because the Lions must win out and hope the NFC South teams in contention have some losses this month.
If Detroit does not beat the Chicago Bears, for starters, its chances of making it to the playoffs are likely over. And, Caldwell’s future with the franchise would be questioned even more.
Caldwell is under contract for at least two more years thanks to a multiyear extension, a deal the team didn’t announce until months after he signed it, but a late-season slide may warm his seat.
Bears coach John Fox, meanwhile, may have a harder time getting a fourth season in the Windy City. He does have one year left on his contract, but he also has a 13-32 record and his .289 winning percentage is barely better than Abe Gibron’s franchise-worst .274 from 1972-74.
Even though Chicago can only spoil Detroit’s playoff hopes and possibly alter Minnesota’s postseason positioning in two weeks, Fox expects the best from his players.
“They have a lot of pride and we want to finish this season off strong,” Fox said.
Here are some things to watch when Detroit (7-6) tries to beat Chicago (4-9) for the third straight and ninth time in 10 meetings on Saturday at Ford Field:
ON THE MOVE: Chicago’s offense ranks among the worst in the NFL, especially through the air. But the Bears are coming off a promising performance in a 33-7 win at Cincinnati that ended a five-game losing streak.
Mitchell Trubisky directed an offense that had a season-high 482 yards and became the franchise’s first rookie to throw and run for touchdowns in a game since Jim McMahon in 1982. Jordan Howard ran for 147 yards and became Chicago’s first player to begin a career with 1,000-plus yards rushing in each of his first two seasons. Rookie Tarik Cohen added a season-high 80 yards rushing.
“They run the ball as well as anybody that we’ve seen to date,” Caldwell said.
NO KICK: The Bears have made a league-worst 70 percent of their field goals and are using a third kicker, Mike Nugent, this season. Nugent missed on one of his four extra-point attempts last week, hitting the right upright after Chicago’s first touchdown, and made two field goals.
INJURY REPORT: Detroit center Travis Swanson (concussion) and right tackle Rick Wagner (ankle) were ruled out after both were unable to practice this week. Lions guard T.J. Lang is questionable with a foot injury that allowed him to practice on a limited basis on Thursday. Detroit defensive end Ezekiel Ansah, who has a sack in two of the last three games, is also questionable with an ankle ailment.
Chicago’s defense might be missing starting safety Adrian Amos for a third straight week and starting nose tackle Eddie Goldman for a second game in a row. Amos (hamstring) and Goldman (hip) were limited in Thursday’s practice and are questionable to play at Detroit.