Lions vs. Bears: 3 Reasons Da Bears' D Will Suffocate Lions' Sputtering Offense
The Bears have exceeded expectations so far in 2012. They lead an NFC North division that was expected to be topped by either the Packers or even the Lions, and few thought that the Jay Cutler-led Bears would be its top team.
This season, however, Cutler has proved to be more efficient, having thrown four of his seven interceptions in one game and throwing only three in the other four games he has played.
While Cutler has been good and running backs Matt Forte and Michael Bush have been respectable on the ground, the defense in Chicago has been the real hero this year.
Lovie Smith's unit consisting of a good front seven and a good secondary is a very complete unit that can hurt a team in a lot of different ways. They are the eleven players who will ensure a Lions loss Monday night at Soldier Field.
1. The Run Defense
Chicago has the best run defense in the league. Period. They rank first in the NFL in yards allowed per game at 65 and will not let up against a weak Lions run game. Anchored by Brian Urlacher, the Bears will stuff the middle of the field and have good coverage on the outside. It's going to be a long night for Mikel Leshoure.
Just over one week ago, I wrote about why the Lions need a running game to win games. I still hold to that, and I think that they are going to have a very hard time establishing the run against the stout Bears on Monday night.
This is just the first (but probably most important) way the Bears defense will shut the Lions down.
2. Julius Peppers
Since joining the Bears, Julius Peppers, the perennial Pro-Bowl defensive end, has been nothing short of spectacular. He has elevated Chicago's pass rush to levels previously unseen in recent years, taking a decent defense to a league-leading 3.6 sacks per game. Peppers' greatest successes in his Chicago career have been against the Detroit Lions.
Because of Detroit's weak run game, the Bears will have an easy enough time containing the Lions on the ground while also focusing on Matt Stafford and the passing game. This means more blitzes from Chicago's defense, which will allow Peppers more room to work and break down offensive linemen to knock Stafford off his feet.
Peppers has had a bye week to rest a nagging foot injury and will be extra-excited to play at full strength Monday for the first time in weeks. The Lions' offensive line better be ready.
3. The Secondary
Thought to be an area of weakness in the preseason, the Bears' secondary has turned into one of their greatest areas of strength.
Aging corner back Charles Tillman has two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns this season despite being on the wrong side of 30 years old. His corner back counterpart Tim Jennings on the opposite side of the field has recorded a league-leading four interceptions.
Aside from the corner backs, young safeties Chris Conte and former third round pick Major Wright have been revelations in limiting the big play and finishing tackles with clean and hard hits.
Young nickelback D.J. Moore has also been good pressuring slot receivers and taking away underneath routes.
Overall, the Bears' secondary has been a huge plus this season and is a huge factor in making their defense one of the most complete in the NFL.