The Chicago Bears are about to enter the most difficult part of their 2018 schedule. It features three-straight divisional games including two within 80 hours of each other. It’s a stretch that can make or break a young football team. It starts this Sunday against the Detroit Lions, a team the Bears have beaten once in their last 10 meetings.

That has to change if they want to make the playoffs this year. It’s not going to be easy. The Lions have some really good players on their roster. One of whom has become somewhat of a major thorn in the side of the Bears the past couple of years. That’s Pro Bowl cornerback Darius Slay.

He almost single-handedly denied Chicago a victory in Detroit late last year when he intercepted Mitch Trubisky twice. The guy gives them problems. That’s why it’s a big deal that he’s been M.I.A from Lions practices this week. According to Nate Atkins of MLive, he has sat out his second-in-a-row with a knee injury that has bothered him for over a week.

Chicago Bears could exploit Lions’ already iffy pass defense without Slay

Slay did play in the previous game against Minnesota. He even had an interception in the game. However, the fact he’s not practicing after being limited most of the previous week suggests he may have aggravated the injury further. Detroit may be trying to get him as much rest as possible to keep him reserved for the game but no work at all suggests he’s in a lot of pain.

This is not good news at all for their defense. Their pass defense, currently 4th in the NFL is one of the few things keeping their team afloat right now. At 3-5 they’re clinging to a thin lifeline. If Slay goes down, it could expose them in a big way. Especially with the Bears getting Allen Robinson back healthy.

This is a game the Bears know they have to win, but more important know they can win. They’ve played every opponent on the schedule tough to this point and are 11 points away from being undefeated. They have no reason to fear the Lions anymore, with or without Slay on the field. Still, if he’s not out there it will be a big advantage they can look to exploit.

It worth noting one thing. Quarterbacks have a 100+ passer rating against all the Lions cornerbacks who have played this year. That includes Slay.