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For decades, the battles between these two NFC North division rivals have been nail-biters for both fans and sports bettors alike. These teams play each other close, making it difficult for bettors to choose a side.
In the last decade, the Lions and Bears have played each other 20 times, splitting the series 10-10. Of those 20 games, 17, or 85 percent, were decided by two touchdowns or less.
The margin of victory gets even tighter when looking at their last 10 meetings over the past five seasons. Seven of the 10 games were won by a single score. Of those seven games, four were decided by just a field goal or less.
In their last two matchups, the Bears were the favorite to win and covered the spread in each game. In the previous eight games, Chicago played the role as the underdog and covered four games against the spread, and one meeting was a push.
The Lions have covered the spread against the Bears just three times, or 37.5 percent, in the last five seasons. However, in money line wagers, the Lions have come out on top. Detroit has defeated Chicago outright seven times in their last 10 games.
Bears VS Lions History
These two teams became division rivals in 1933 when the Portsmouth Spartans moved from Ohio to Detroit and became the Lions. The Lions and Bears have produced several historical NFL moments throughout the decades, including having the longest-running annual series in the NFL.
This NFC North divisional rivalry is also a Thanksgiving tradition. The Bears and Lions have battled each other a total of 17 times on Turkey Day, with all the games being held in Detroit. Chicago leads the Thanksgiving series 9-8, though Detroit will have a chance to tie it up on Nov. 28.
Great Bears-Lions Games
On Nov. 29, 1934, the Lions faced the Bears in Detroit’s first-ever Thanksgiving Day game. The Bears narrowly beat the Lions 19-16 to win the NFL Western Division Championship.
In their only postseason matchup against each other, the Bears beat their rivals 9-0 in the 1932 Championship meeting.
This low scoring affair was a historical NFL moment because it marked the first-ever playoff game in the League. The playoff match was held as a tiebreaker game, as both teams had 6-1 records, so it also acted as the NFL Championship Game.
On Oct. 14, 1941, Chicago found their largest margin of victory against their rivals when they beat the Lions 49-0. It would be over five decades until the Lions gave the Bears one of their biggest defeats.
In 1997, Detroit was challenging for a playoff berth when they played the Bears in a home game. Detroit running back Barry Sanders carried the ball 19 times for 167 yards and three touchdowns. Lions fans basked in the glory of their stunning 55-20 victory, which was the most points scored by a Lions team in the regular NFL season and the most points ever allowed by a Bears team.
Infamous Bears-Lions Moments
The infamous moments between these rivals are littered with narrow losses, stunning overtime victories, and controversy.
In 1980, in yet another Thanksgiving Day showdown, Chicago running back Dave Williams returned the overtime kickoff for a 95-yard touchdown to get the W, leaving the fans in attendance in shock.
In a controversial moment that still stings Detroit fans, after beating the Lions 37-17 in the last game of the 1985 regular NFL season, Mike Ditka, Buddy Ryan, and a litany of other Bears celebrated their 15-1 record by gathering around the 50-yard line.
They then proceeded to perform their famed Super Bowl Shuffle over the Lions logo. Chicago would go on that season to win their only Super Bowl Championship.
Unfortunately, the most memorable moment in this rivalry is that of a tragedy. In a 1971 game, with just 1:02 left in the fourth quarter, Lions wide receiver Chuck Hughes was on his way back to the huddle when he suddenly buckled on the field, clutching his chest. Dick Butkus, a linebacker for the Bears, anxiously signaled for help.
Both teams’ doctors tried their best to save Hughes but were not successful. The Bears won the meeting 28-23, but neither side seemed to care once they found out after the game that Chuck Hughes passed away. The wide receiver remains the only player to ever die on the field in NFL history.
The Lions and Bears have seen several “double agents” throughout their rivalry.
Quarterback Erik Kramer played as a starter off and on for the Lions from 1991-1993 before signing with the Bears in 1994 for five seasons. He currently holds the Bears’ record for single season passing yards with 3,838 for 29 touchdown passes.
Wide receiver Roy Williams started his NFL tenure with the Lions in 2004 and played for them until 2008. In 2006, Williams received for 1,310 yards with seven touchdowns, earning him a Pro Bowl selection. In 2011, Williams signed with the Bears for one year and completed the season with 37 receptions for 507 yards and two touchdowns.
Lions linebacker Christian Jones started his NFL career in 2014 with the Bears. In his rookie year, his first career sack was on Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford. Jones played with Chicago until 2017, when he sacked Stafford once again in his final season with the Bears, and he signed with the Lions in March 2018.
Bears VS. Lions FAQs
- What is the Bears' All-Time Record Against the Lions?
Out of 178 total games played, Chicago leads the series 99-74-5, winning approximately 56 percent of the games.
- When do the Bears play the Lions Next?
The NFC North rivals meet for the first time this season at 1 p.m. on Nov. 10 at Soldier Field.
- When did the Bears First Play the Lions?
Chicago first played the Lions, when they were known as the Spartans, on Oct. 22, 1930.
- Who Won the First Meeting Between the Bears and Lions?
The Spartans beat the Bears 7-6.