Chicago Bears-Detroit Lions: Week Four Preview

Nathan VenegasCorrespondent ISeptember 30, 2009

CHICAGO - SEPTEMBER 20: Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears runs against the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 20, 2009 at Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Steelers 17-14. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

You should never take any team for granted in the NFL, which goes double for teams within your division.

The Lions have been the subject of many a joke over the past few seasons but after a productive offseason it looks like they understand the mistakes made during the Matt Millen Era and are slowly moving in the right direction.

The biggest offseason acquisition the Lions made not named Matthew Stafford was Larry Foote. He’s a veteran who was a part of a stingy Steelers defense for many years. Bringing a winning attitude to Detroit has helped them as much as the number one overall pick Matthew Stafford.

The Lions defense has a new attitude but has still given up quite a bit of yards and points this season. If the Bears running game doesn’t get going this week, I’m not sure what it will take.

Perhaps Ron Tuner, the Chicago Bears offensive coordinator, needs to air the ball out early to pull the safety off the line and free up space for Matt Forte.

Jay Cutler has a cannon arm and should have no trouble doing this, but I feel the lack of a rushing attack falls solely on the offensive line. They’ve been decent when they’ve had to drop back in pass protection but when they need to get push and open up running lanes they just haven’t gotten it done.

If the running game does get rolling that means even more opportunities for Devin Hester.

Hester is learning how to play his position better and better each week. Also the Bears coaches have learned that you don’t always have to send Hester deep for him to be productive. Short passes and hard running are enough to make Hester a threat at the receiver position.

Second year running back Kevin Smith has increased his rushing yards per game every week this young season. Smith proved he can get to the outside in a hurry and push it up the field. Keeping him between the tackles will limit his yards.

Half of the Bears linebacking corps have suffered injuries which means that someone on the depth chart will have to step up while some of our starters heal.

It will be interesting to see who starts at middle linebacker for the Bears. With the bye week coming after this game I wouldn’t be surprised if Hunter Hillenmeyer sits this one out and we see Nick Roach start in the middle.

Matthew Stafford has dropped back to pass an average of 30 times per game this season but has only been sacked five times. I think all the rookie quarterbacks feel some extra pressure by having their progress compared to that of Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco’s rookie campaigns.

Stafford has shown he’s fearless and willing to work hard. That in and of itself is enough to get a team behind you.  

Matthew Stafford has a big target to throw to in 6’5” Calvin Johnson. There isn’t a route in the playbook this guy can’t run and run well. He’s a tall, physical, and fast receiver who needs to be contained to ensure a Bears win.


Players to Watch

Matt Forte: Until the running game gets on track he and the rest of the offensive line will garner much negativity from fans and analysts.

Johnny Knox: The speedster has already contributed more than anyone expected so far this season. As he and Jay Cutler get more reps his numbers can go even higher.

Charles Tillman: No doubt “Peanut” will have his hands full covering Calvin Johnson. He’ll need help from the pass rush but Tillman needs to be on top of his game.


Key to the Game

Quarterback pressure. Matthew Stafford has been shaky so far this season. A roaring Soldier Field crowd and a steady pass rush should seal victory for the Bears.