What History tells us about Bears and Lions
|Friday, October 1, 2021, 3:58 PM- -|
It took four weeks, but for the first time this season, the Chicago Bears will be facing an opponent they see twice a season in the Detroit Lions. These NFC North teams have been doing battle for a long time, going all the back to 1930, in which the Lions, known as the Portsmouth Spartans, won the first-ever meeting 7-6.
For the most part, the Bears have dominated this rivalry as they hold the series lead 102-75-5 while outscoring the Lions 3567-3280 in the process. After that first loss, Chicago took control of the series as they won seven of the next 10 meetings, including five straight from 1932-34. Also mixed in that 10-game stretch was a pair of ties as the Bears lost just once to the Lions over those 10 meetings.
As the series moved to the 1940s, you had the Lions getting one of their rare runs of success, taking four of six before the Bears responded with six straight wins. Another brief stretch of success for the Lions that saw them win three of four was answered by dominating stretch by the Bears where they won 12 straight and 13 of 14 games to close out the 1940's and start the 1950's as Chicago was the far superior team for the first 20 years of this rivalry.
Over the next 15 years, the Bears continued to dominate the rivalry, but unlike in the past, they could not rip off long winning streaks. Instead, the Bears would win four, maybe five games in a row before the Lions would answer as things seemed to be evening out from a competitive side of things. The most success the Lions had during this rivalry came in the late 1960s and early 1970s. During this time, Detroit won 11 of 12 games and 13 of 15 as the Bears were left searching for rare answers.
Another 10-year run without a consistent advantage led to 1984 when the Bears started to take off against this team again. Not only did Chicago rip off 10 straight wins, but they managed to win 12 of 14 games in what could be considered the best times of the Bears franchise since the early championship era days.
That run of success has not been seen since, as both teams have had moments of triumph and moments of failures across the better part of the last three decades. This is what is great about football and divisional rivalries, as they provide fans with some of the greatest games and moments of the season, given how familiar you are with your opponents.
Coming off a three-game losing streak, it was in 2005 when the Lions started to go south as a franchise that again tipped things in the Bears favor. Four straight wins in 05 and 06 were followed by six consecutive wins from 08 through 2010 as the Bears continued to push their division rivals around.
In total, the Bears won nine of 10 spanning five years, but that ended with the Lions putting together their best stretch against Chicago since the early 1980s.
With Matthew Stafford now patrolling things for the Lions, Chicago was not only swept in 2013, but swept in three straight season series spanning 2013-16 as the Lions started to give the Bears fits. A big reason for the sudden production decline was that the Lions had a playoff-caliber team while the Bears were searching for answers, especially at the QB position.
Since 2017, and really since Mitch Trubisky was drafted, this team has started to tip things in their favor, once again responding very nicely after losing 10 of 11 at one point. Chicago swept the Lions in both 2018 and 19 before winning a fifth straight time in 2020.
Detroit got the upper hand in their second meeting last season, ending the Bears five-game winning streak to get back on the winning side.
With their first meeting of 2021 upon them, the Bears are looking to start a new streak as the Lions come into the contest riding an 0-3 record while the Bears are 1-2. Realistically speaking, Chicago could very easily be 0-3 while the Lions could be 1-2 if not 2-1. To think Detroit is just going to roll over and die on Sunday would not be wise.
Despite the Bears dominating this rivalry apart from a few stretches, these games are often well-played games as both teams play with a ton of heart. This may not be the Packers or Vikings, but the Lions have been around a long time and have seen the Bears plenty of times. When both teams are good, these games are very intense.
However, when both teams are bad, no one seems to care about this rivalry all that much. This is in the middle as neither team is very good at the moment, but neither one is bad either. This season, Detroit has deserved better results, while some would argue the Bears are lucky to be where they are. This is a crucial early-season game for both sides so expect another well-played game on Sunday.