CHICAGO — It had never happened before. Not once.
By coming from behind to complete a 27-24 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday, the Detroit Lions completed their NFC North road slate with a 3-0 record. That’s the first time in franchise history the Lions have won every divisional road game.
Only once before had the Lions gone through the division without a loss on the road, back in 1961, when Detroit was 5-0-1. But more important for the Lions than the historical marker is this: Detroit’s win over Chicago sets up a huge Thanksgiving game against division-leading Minnesota.
If the Lions were to win that game, they would hold the tiebreaker over Minnesota and cut the Vikings’ division lead to one game.
What it means: The Lions are now 3-1 in games this season where they have trailed by double digits in the first quarter. The rest of the NFL, going into Week 11, had four wins combined. It just shows what type of team the Lions are at this point – a slow-starting team that adjusts throughout the game. Against teams that are going nowhere in 2017 like Cleveland and Chicago, Detroit can get away with that. They won’t be able to on Thanksgiving, when they face Minnesota. It’s something the Lions have to figure out. But for the second straight week, Detroit can say a win is a win and it keeps the team firmly in the playoff race.
What I liked: Marvin Jones continues to make good plays. His stop-and-go route for a 28-yard touchdown was a beautiful pass and route. The Lions have found a really good connection between the two of them this season. … Matt Prater is close-to-automatic late in games from over 50 yards. His 52-yard field goal with 1:35 left gave the Lions the win. He’s been so, so critical for the Lions this season.
What I didn’t like: What looked like an aberration last week is a problem now. The Lions run defense allowed over 200 yards for the second straight week, this time 222 yards and two touchdowns. And considering the Lions had been better at stopping the run than the pass for the majority of the season, that’s a big concern. The injuries on the front seven to Ezekiel Ansah and Haloti Ngata have been part of the problem, but it’s deeper than that. Trubisky’s 19-yard scramble to give the Bears a chance with 15 seconds left was a prime example of it. … The Lions defense has to be a bit concerned overall, too, after giving up 398 yards to Chicago … Detroit’s run game also continues to be an issue. The Lions could not get much going running the ball again, but that’s mostly to be expected at this point. The other main concern is a slow start. Again. Eventually, that is going to cost the Lions in a crucial spot. It almost did Sunday against the Bears.
Fantasy fallout: Matthew Stafford did what he needed to do, throwing for 299 yards with two touchdowns. The lost fumble will cost a little bit of fantasy points, but a better-than-expected day from Stafford. Golden Tate had a quiet day with only three catches for 32 yards. Theo Riddick was non-existent with 35 rushing yards and one catch for four yards.
Matt Prater saves the Lions again: He’s as consistent as they come and for the Lions, that’s been massive. It was his 13th game-winning kick with under two minutes left in his career and first one this season. The game-winner was also the 42nd field goal of 50 yards or more in his career – tying him with John Kasay for the third-most in history. Only former Lions kicker Jason Hanson (52) and Sebastian Janikowski (55) have more.
What’s next: The Lions face Minnesota on Thanksgiving in a game that could all but decide the NFC North if the Vikings were to win.