Nuts & Bolts: Bears-Lions
When: 8 p.m., Monday | TV: ESPN| Radio: 780 AM, WBBM & 105.9 FM
Coach: Lovie Smith | Record including playoffs: 67-54
Career record vs. Jim Schwartz: 2-0 | Career record against Lions: 10-4
Last week: Defeated Panthers 34-29
Key stat: The Bears are 6-1 on Monday Night Football under Lovie Smith, including four wins in a row. The last time these teams met on MNF was Dec. 4, 1995.
Offense rank: 26th (307.8 ypg) | Defense rank: 31st (425.8 ypg)
Offensive leader: QB Jay Cutler ranks in Chicago’s top 10 in every major passing category, including passer rating, completion percentage, completions, touchdowns, yards, and attempts. But the reality is the quarterback has struggled in recent weeks. Cutler has completed less than 50 percent of his throws over the last three weeks with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 3 to 3.
Defensive leader: DE Julius Peppers knocked Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford out for six weeks in 2010, when the teams met in the season opener. While not proud of the hit, Peppers needs to be disruptive with pressure on Stafford in this contest to take pressure off the struggling secondary. Peppers has two sacks, and two fumble recoveries, in addition to a blocked field goal this season.
• The Bears have won six in a row against the Lions, and 10 of the last 12 meetings between the teams.
• The Bears have won every game this season in which the defense contributed a touchdown. The club defeated the Falcons in the opener when Brian Urlacher scored on a fumble return, and downed the Carolina Panthers last week when D.J. Moore pitched in a TD with an interception return.
• The Bears haven’t lost in two seasons (8-0) when they’ve finished the game on the positive side of the turnover margin, and are 39-7 under those conditions since 2004.
Coach: Jim Schwartz | Record: 12-24
Career head-to-head record vs. Smith: 0-4 | Career record against Bears: 0-4
Last week: Defeated the Cowboys 34-30
Offense rank: 11th (375.8 ypg) | Defense rank: 11th (334.3 ypg)
Key stat: Dating back to 2010, the Lions have won eight consecutive games. The streak registers as the club’s longest since it captured nine consecutive wins in the 1953-1954 seasons. The current winning streak also ranks as the NFL’s longest currently in the regular-season.
Offensive leader: QB Matthew Stafford has thrown at least two touchdown passes in eight of his 17 starts in the NFL. Interestingly, the quarterback seems to play his best in the fourth quarter. Stafford has completed 24 of 36 in the fourth quarter for 220 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating in the fourth quarter (120.9) currently ranks third in the NFL.
Defensive leader: DT Ndamukong Suh leads the NFL at his position with 12 sacks since coming into the league in 2010. With Suh anchoring the interior of the defensive line, the Lions have given up only one rushing touchdown this season, which ranks as second in the NFL. Suh doesn’t appear to be playing at the same level he performed at last season. Nonetheless, the Bears are still concerned about finding ways to neutralize him.
• Calvin Johnson is one of just two receivers in NFL history to post two touchdown catches in four consecutive games. Johnson is actually the first player to do that over the first four games of a season.
• Stafford is the first Lions quarterback since Bobby Layne, and only the second in team history, to lead the club to comebacks from 24-point deficits. Stafford has led comebacks from 20 points or more in two consecutive weeks.
• Cornerback Chris Houston has picked off three passes over the past four weeks, and leads the team in INTs (3), which also ties for the NFL lead.