1:00 PM ET, November 10, 2013
Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
Although the Chicago Bears seemed comfortable with a backup quarterback last week, they'll call on their starter as they try for a second straight victory over a NFC North frontrunner on Sunday.
Looking to build on their latest win, the Bears turn to Jay Cuter against a Detroit Lions team trying to sweep the season series for the first time since 2007.
Coach Marc Trestman confirmed Cutler's return Thursday following practice, saying doctors have given Cutler the clearance to play. Trestman said Cutler will not be restricted in any way due to the injury.
Cutler suffered the injury in a 45-41 loss at Washington on Oct. 20. The Bears (5-3) had a bye the following week, then Josh McCown started and played all of Monday night's 27-20 victory at Green Bay.
The win at Lambeau Field moved the Bears into a three-way tie atop the division with the Packers and Detroit (5-3). The Bears understand the emotional victory won't mean anything unless they can continue to win.
"We've still got half the season left, so we've got a long way to go," Chicago defensive end Shea McClellin said.
McClellin recorded three of the team's season-high five sacks, including the one that broke Aaron Rodgers' collarbone that has seemingly opened the door for the Bears and Lions in the division.
A team that averaged 23.4 points and 310.6 total yards while going 10-6 and missing the playoffs last season, has thrived under Trestman. Chicago is second in the NFL averaging 30.0 points and 10th at 377.0 total yards per contest.
Cutler has completed 146 of 225 passes for 1,658 yards and 12 touchdowns with seven interceptions.
Behind an improved offensive line, Cutler and McCown have been sacked 12 times. The Bears allowed 28 through the first eight games of 2012.
Matt Forte rushed for a season-high 125 yards, scored his fourth TD in two games and recorded 54 yards through the air at Green Bay. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery combined for 12 receptions for 167 yards and each had a touchdown.
"We keep getting better and better," center Roberto Garza told the Bears' official website. "The guys have a lot of trust in each other."
Despite being thin at defensive tackle and starting two rookie linebackers, the Bears overcame 199 rushing yards by the Packers to hold them to a season-low 312 total. More importantly, they didn't allow backup Seneca Wallace to beat them.
The Bears are 29th against the run, allowing 127.5 yards per game, and yielded 139 to Reggie Bush when Detroit snapped a three-game series skid with a 40-32 home win Sept. 29.
Chicago outgained Detroit 417-387, but Bush's running coupled with three Cutler interceptions and his fumble that was returned for a TD ultimately doomed the Bears.
Though the Lions have dropped six straight division road games and five in a row at Chicago, three of those meetings at Soldier Field have been decided by six points or fewer.
"It's tough," said Detroit's Matthew Stafford, who has completed 60.0 percent of his passes and thrown three TDs and six INTs while going 0-4 at Chicago. "They play pretty well at home like everybody in our division does. It's a big challenge."
The Lions are coming off their bye week looking to build on a dramatic 31-30 home win over Dallas on Oct. 27.
Calvin Johnson caught 14 passes and his 329 receiving yards are the second-highest in NFL history. However, it was Stafford's 1-yard TD plunge with 12 seconds left to cap a six-play, 80-yard drive over 50 seconds that's likely the most memorable moment of that contest.
It's that type of victory that has Detroit confident, yet cautious, it can win the team's first division title since 1993.
"We are only halfway through the season and the tale of this season is not going to be written in the first half, it is going to be written in the second half and that is what we have to concentrate on," coach Jim Schwartz told the Lions' official website.
Though Johnson has recorded 23 of his 47 receptions, 484 of his 821 receiving yards and scored three times in the last two games, the Bears have done a good job of shutting him down. He's been held to 19 catches, 231 yards and only a touchdown in the September meeting over his last four versus Chicago.
Forte, who gained 53 of his 95 rushing yards at Detroit this season on a second-quarter TD run, has averaged 88.4 per game and 5.0 per carry in 11 career contests against the Lions.
Jeffery has topped the 100-yard receiving mark in three of the last five games, beginning with 107 and a touchdown on five receptions at Detroit.
More from ESPN.com
Lions great, Hall of Fame TE Sanders dies at 68
Pro Football Hall of Famer Charlie Sanders died Thursday at age 68. The former Lions tight end had been diagnosed with cancer in November.
Tate says Lions 'trying to become elite' in 2015
After a season in which the Lions returned to the playoffs, wide receiver Golden Tate says it's time for his team to become a consistent winner and begin to shake its "same old Lions" stigma.
Schatz: Five offenses built with the future in mind
Aaron Schatz uses Football Outsiders' snap-weighted age metric to determine which offenses are getting younger and rebuilding with an eye toward the future.
Recent Blog Posts
- NFC North Q&A: Will Vikings have best defense in division by midseason?
- Hall of Fame tight end Charlie Sanders dies at 68
- NFC North Q&A: Who would you rather have, Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers?
|Avg Points Allowed||24.0||27.4|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||DET|
|Rush Yds Allowed||DET|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Chicago leads 17-9|
|Sep 29, 2013||DET 40, CHI 32|
|Dec 30, 2012||DET 24, CHI 26|
|Oct 22, 2012||DET 7, @CHI 13|
|Nov 13, 2011||DET 13, @CHI 37|
|Oct 10, 2011||DET 24, CHI 13|
|Dec 5, 2010||DET 20, CHI 24|
|Sep 12, 2010||DET 14, @CHI 19|
|Jan 3, 2010||DET 23, CHI 37|
|Oct 4, 2009||DET 24, @CHI 48|
|Nov 2, 2008||DET 23, @CHI 27|
|Oct 5, 2008||DET 7, CHI 34|
|Oct 28, 2007||DET 16, @CHI 7|
|Sep 30, 2007||DET 37, CHI 27|
|Dec 24, 2006||DET 21, CHI 26|
|Sep 17, 2006||DET 7, @CHI 34|
|Oct 30, 2005||DET 13, CHI 19|
|Sep 18, 2005||DET 6, @CHI 38|
|Dec 26, 2004||DET 19, CHI 13|
|Sep 12, 2004||DET 20, @CHI 16|
|Nov 9, 2003||DET 12, CHI 10|
|Oct 26, 2003||DET 16, @CHI 24|
|Nov 24, 2002||DET 17, @CHI 20|
|Oct 20, 2002||DET 23, CHI 20|
|Dec 30, 2001||DET 0, CHI 24|
|Dec 2, 2001||DET 10, @CHI 13|
Matt Stafford is 287 yards shy of passing Bobby Layne for most passing yards in Lions history, they went to the same high school in Texas (Highland Park High in Dallas) Stafford has 24 career games with more than 287 passing yards.
Calvin Johnson has been targeted nine times on passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield his last two games with five receptions. The Lions didn't take shots deep to Johnson earlier in the season.[+]
Calvin Johnson Receiving 20+ Yds Downfield - This Season
The Bears have allowed a league-worst 56.7 completion percentage 20-plus yards downfield this season. Last season the Bears ranked ninth on such passes (29.0 completion percentage).[+]
Bears' Pass Defense 20+ Yds Downfield - This Season
Matt Forte gained 49 yards from scrimmage on 21 total touches (17 rushes, four catches). Forte had gained more than 90 yards from scrimmage in every game this season, topping the 100-yard mark in six of eight games. Forte's 2.3 yards per touch average is the second worst of his career among 47 games with at least 20 touches, and easily the worst of his time under Marc Trestman.[+]
Matt Forte From Scrimmage, 2013
Calvin Johnson had 83 receiving yards Sunday and according to Elias, his 567 receiving yards in his last three games is the third-most in three consecutive games in NFL history.[+]
Matthew Stafford has a Total QBR above 70.0 in four straight games (71.0 Sunday), the longest streak in his career.
Marc Trestman went to Michael Bush on a 4th down in field goal range and didn't convert. Bush (almost exclusively a short-yardage back) has a 1st down on 9.7 percent of his total rushes entering Sunday. 107 running backs have a better percentage this season.
Both of Reggie Bush's 100-yard rushing games this season have come against the Bears and he's done his damage up the middle. On Sunday, Bush rushed for 85 yards on 10 carries up the middle. In two games against Chicago, he's averaged 9.0 yards per rush up the middle compared to just 4.1 yards in all other games.
Calvin Johnson has 8,740 Rec yds through 100 career games, the second most of any player in NFL history.[+]
ESPN Stats & Information