Bears vs. Lions: Detroit Establishes Itself as Real Playoff Contender with Win

Tim KeeneyContributor ISeptember 29, 2013

Sep 29, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions free safety Louis Delmas (26) celebrates after the game against the Chicago Bears at Ford Field. The Lions won 40-32. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

They say defense wins championships, but in the NFL, offense can get you there. 

In a league that is seemingly always making changes that—whether on purpose or not—cater to teams that can put points on the board, the Detroit Lions feature one of the most explosive, well-balanced offensive units in the league. 

Sunday's 40-32 win over the Chicago Bears, which lifted Jim Schwartz's squad to 3-1 and first in the NFC North, was a prime example of that. 

Matthew Stafford completed 23 of his 35 pass attempts for 242 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He completed a pass to six different receivers, and even with a relatively quiet night from the league's best wideout—"just" four catches, 44 yards and a score for Calvin Johnson—Stafford was able to move the ball down the field consistently. 

Reggie Bush was the difference. He touched the ball 22 times and racked up 173 yards and a touchdown. A week after missing a game with a knee injury, he showed glimpses of the USC version of Reggie Bush, cutting up chunks of yardage with a dangerous blend of elusiveness and open-field speed. 

Mike O'Hara of went as far as to say Bush "gives the offense a player that the Lions haven't had since Barry Sanders."

That's not a comparison that gets taken lightly in Detroit—or anywhere for that matter—but with touchdown runs like these, it's easy to see the similarities:

Bush transforms this offense into a completely different animal. The Lions finished with 387 yards of total offense—keeping them in the top five in the league—and had a span in the first half where they scored on six straight drives. 

Remember, this wasn't the Jacksonville Jaguars (sorry, Jags) they were playing against, either. While the Bears have given up their share of yards this season, they feature a playmaking defense that tends to make offenses look inefficient.

The Lions made some mistakes on Sunday (three turnovers), but for the most part, they were able to do what they wanted.

And that was only half the story. 

In a game that featured 72 points, 804 yards of total offense, 41 first downs and just eight punts, the most dominant player on the field was on the defensive side of the ball.

Sep 29, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago Bears offensive guard Kyle Long (75) and long snapper Patrick Mannelly (65) tackle Detroit Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh (90) during the third quarter at Ford Field. The Lions won 40-32. Mandatory Credit: Tim
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Ndamukong Suh did pretty much anything he wanted. Not only did he get a strong push or command a double-team on just about every play, but he tallied four tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble—rare numbers for a defensive tackle.

Suh certainly has a muddy past when it comes to character issues, but right now, he's playing Defensive MVP-caliber football as the anchor of one of the best defensive lines in football.

The pressure he, Nick Fairley and the rest of the front seven are able to create (three sacks on Sunday) make life much easier on the secondary, which was able to pick off Jay Cutler three times, giving the team four takeaways overall. 

Put it all together—the multi-dimensional offense and the turnovers forced on defense—and it was a balanced, dominant effort in a crucial divisional game. 

The final score doesn't tell the entire story. Detroit led 40-16 midway through the fourth quarter before Chicago added two late touchdowns and two-point conversations to make it close. 

Jim Schwartz's squad was one of the jokes of the league last year, but the Lions are currently the prime example of how quickly an NFL team can pull off a complete 180.