LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — The Chicago Bears have four straight losses, a spot at the bottom of their division and little time left to salvage their once-promising season. If Detroit beats them, well, that might stamp out whatever is left.
The Bears look to stop their skid when they host Matthew Stafford and the struggling Lions on Sunday to start a relatively light stretch in the schedule.
They're banking on two games in the next four against Detroit (3-4-1) and one against the New York Giants to make something of a season quickly slipping away.
"It's now or never," receiver Anthony Miller said. "It's win or go home for us. We've got to win."
The Bears (3-5) expected to do plenty of that after capturing the NFC North last season at 12-4 and making the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
They were counting on quarterback Mitchell Trubisky to take another step forward and an offense that showed promise in coach Matt Nagy's first season to make more big plays. They did not anticipate their prized QB taking a step back, their line getting pushed around, the tight ends contributing little and the receivers — besides Allen Robinson — not delivering the way they hoped.
They've been bogged down by slow starts. And the lack of rhythm has limited the plays Nagy can call. It's all added up to an offense that ranks among the worst in the NFL.
Even the defense has looked a little more vulnerable, though Chicago did sack Carson Wentz four times last week in a 22-14 loss at Philadelphia.
The Lions, meanwhile, have four losses in their past five games following a 2-0-1 start. Oakland beat them 31-24 last week when Stafford's pass to Logan Thomas from the 1 was broken up in the end zone with 3 seconds remaining.
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft, Trubisky has seen a decline in completion rate (63, yards per game (173.9), yards per attempt (5.6) and rating (80) from last season. He has just five touchdown passes after throwing for 24. But if he's going to break out, this might be the game to do it.
Trubisky had one of his best games as a pro against Detroit at Soldier Field last November. He completed 23 of 30 passes for 355 yards, three TDs, no interceptions and a 148.6 rating to lead Chicago to a 34-22 victory after losing nine of 10 to the Lions.
The Bears won two weeks later at Detroit with Chase Daniel filling in for the injured Trubisky to complete the sweep.
"I think we see what we can be," Trubisky said. "Obviously we have the same players we had last year so we're capable of creating explosive plays, staying on the field, converting on third downs, scoring touchdowns and having that identity and being the team we want to be — and then just going out there, seeing a bunch of guys having fun, playing football, running the ball well, big plays open up in the pass game. That was a fun day and we're hoping to have more of those in the future."
Detroit's Kenny Golladay is tied with Tampa Bay's Mike Evans for the league lead with seven receiving touchdowns, and teammate Marvin Jones has six TD receptions.
Golladay and Jones along with Evans and Chris Godwin are the only pairs of NFL players on the same team with 13 receiving touchdowns, at least 35 catches each and 500-plus yards apiece this season.
"They're both big, talented guys, move well," Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford said. "And, obviously track the ball in the air really well."
The Bears figure to have their hands full with Stafford.
The veteran has thrown for 4,741 yards, 28 touchdowns and 21 interceptions in 18 games against Chicago. And he comes into this one on a bit of a roll.
Stafford has thrown for more than 300 yards, three-plus touchdowns and one interception in each of the past three games. He ranks second in NFL in TD passes (19), fourth in yards (2,499) and fifth in rating (106).
Lions defensive tackle Damon "Snacks" Harrison had five solo tackles at Oakland after averaging about one solo over the first seven games of the season.
"Hopefully coming off that, we can build on the confidence part of that," Detroit coach Matt Patricia said. "He was able to kind of use some of the leverage, the strength, and some of the lower body."
The 6-foot-3, 350-pound Harrison appears to be healthy after a groin injury seemed to stunt his performance earlier in the season.
OUT OF THE GATE
The Bears' offense continues to struggle at the start, punting on their first possession in seven of the eight games. The exception came in a victory over Minnesota in Week 4, when they went 75 yards for a touchdown.