This Sunday features a critical NFC North tilt. The Chicago Bears have a chance to take an early stranglehold on the division, while the Detroit Lions will look to tighten things up and keep pace. In order for the Bears to beat Detroit, they will have to make Matthew Stafford uncomfortable in the pocket.
Pass rush has been an issue three games into the season for the Bears. They currently only have five sacks on the season, two of which came from linebacker D.J. Williams this past week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The pressure did get better against Pittsburgh, but the defense failed to get Ben Roethlisberger on the ground more than it should. The press did force Roethlisberger into two interceptions and two fumbles lost.
Charles Tillman is still nursing a groin injury. If he is not completely healthy, he will have a hard time slowing down Calvin Johnson like he has in the past. He needs the defensive line to take the pressure off of him.
If the Bears come out with the same kind of pressure shown against the Cincinnati Bengals, Minnesota Vikings and Steelers, then they will lose to a Lions team that is ranked second in the league in passing yards.
The loss of Nate Burleson will hurt the Lions as they try to move the chains on third down. Nickel corner Isaiah Frey will have to win the battle between new slot receiver Ryan Broyles.
Not much needs to change for the Bears offensively. Jay Cutler has shown maturation from week to week, and he proved in Pittsburgh he can take care of the football in a hostile environment.
The Lions are vulnerable in the secondary. Cutler can exploit matchups on the outside with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. This is the week the Bears should open their offense and take shots downfield. Detroit corners Darius Slay and Chris Houston do not have the size to tussle with Marshall and Jeffery.
Matt Forte will continue to be the focal point of the offense. Lions defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham is known to be overly aggressive. This will open lanes for Forte on the ground as well as free up space on screen passes and throws to the flat.
The Bears are the more disciplined team in this game. They will most likely be in their fourth straight close ballgame. Execution down the stretch as well as proper clock management is vital if they want to come away from Detroit with a win.