The 2013-14 Bears lost four straight games to the Detroit Lions, the first time that level of futility has occurred since the woeful times of the late ‘60s-early ‘70s. The Lions obliterated the Denver Broncos 45-10 in John Fox’s first year as Broncos head coach.
None of that particularly matters approaching Sunday when the Bears go to Ford Field to face the Lions.
“We don’t spend a lot of time looking in the rear-view mirror,” Fox said. “We’re looking out the windshield. That’ll determine what we do Sunday.”
Other things will indeed determine outcomes.
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Winning two straight games restored some balance to a Bears team that had lost its two previous games by 25 (Arizona) and 26 (Seattle) points. The fact that the wins involved fourth-quarter surges against teams that are a combined 3-7 really isn’t relevant; only winning matters and the Bears, despite injury levels approaching epic levels, managed to do that.
If there is any concern it lies in the fact that the Bears have scored no more than 23 points in any of their five games this year. That cannot continue if the Bears are entertaining thoughts of stacking more wins.
The Bears went through a stretch like that last season and were 2-3 then, too. They went six games of no more than 23 points in 2011 (the six after the Jay Cutler injury) and went 1-5 then; they were 3-3 over six 23-or-less games in 2010 before righting themselves for the run to the NFC Championship game. A seven-game 23-or-less stretch in 2009 ended 1-6.
Not that 23 is any sort of points tipping point, like 17 is for points allowed; over the last 10 years the Bears are 39-12 when holding an opponent to 17 or fewer points.
All of which cascades into Bears-Lions.
Detroit has failed to score more than 17 points in any of its last four games, all since blowing a 21-10 halftime lead at San Diego in Week 1. The Bears’ defense has allowed just four touchdowns over the past three games (none rushing), and Detroit has scored more than two offensive touchdowns just once this year.
More to the overall were the indications of quitting last Sunday against Arizona, and that was at home. Coach Jim Caldwell began benching players, including quarterback Matthew Stafford after a third interception.
The variable this Sunday is how the Lions respond to both the adversity of losing and also the Caldwell message that no one is immune to benching. The Lions may come out with extreme fire, which then involves the Bears weathering an early attempt to blow them out, and matching that can be an early decision point.
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But the guess here is that it will be the Bears coming out with smash-mouth intentions and also the ability to carry that through, both on offense and defense. The Lions are 32nd in the league rushing, both in yardage and per-attempt.
The Bears, however, are understandably wary of wounded Lions.
“I still see all the talent and the explosiveness that they've had the past few years,” said Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. “Ever since [Stafford] has been there, particularly with that receiving group that he's got in [Calvin] Johnson and [Golden] Tate.
“They just have struggled a little bit, they've played some really good defenses and it just hasn't worked out for them. But they're still very capable of winning a lot of games during the season.”
Just not this one. “View from the Moon” predicted the Bears to be 2-3 after five games this season and that they would lose at Detroit. Not now.
Prediction: Bears 20, Lions 16