Matt and Zac Snyder of Bleacher Report and mittensportsreport.com break down this week's Detroit Lions football matchup.
When the Lions have the ball...
Detroit's passing attack vs. Chicago's defensive backs
Zac says: Matthew Stafford's ability to avoid an interception against Washington paid huge dividends for the passing game. Bryant Johnson was able to make plays and Calvin Johnson will always make plays. Stafford showed how he is capable of responding to adversity, Sunday will be a test to see how he responds to success. Advantage: Bears
Matt says: Stafford too a huge step forward in last week's game; he took care of the ball and led touchdown drives of 85 and 99 yards. If Stafford can continue to lean more on the playmaking abilities of his receivers and less on pure arm strength, the Lions should see more success through the air. And when it comes down to it I can't pick against Calvin Johnson. Advantage: Lions
Detroit's running game vs. Chicago's front seven
Zac says: Former Lions coach Rod Marinelli is now the Bears defensive line coach. The Lions offensive line will surely be amped up at a chance to run it down their throat. The running game has been a surprising success this year. Expect that success to continue against a Bears defense with injury problems at linebacker. Advantage: Lions
Matt says: Starting running back Kevin Smith is listed on the injury report as questionable after injuring his shoulder in last week's game. He was held out of practice early in the week, but has since returned to see limited reps. If Smith is unable to go on Sunday, the Lions run game will suffer. Veteran Maurice Morris would likely carry the load, with the lightning quick rookie, Aaron Brown, backing him up. My gut tells me that Smith will play, but may be limited in his effectiveness. Advantage: Bears
When the Bears have the ball...
Chicago's passing attack vs. Detroit's defensive backs
Zac says: Jay Cutler possesses one of the game's golden arms. The Lions cornerback situation hasn't worked itself out yet as free agent pick up Philip Buchanon hasn't played up to his billing and has lost playing time to Will James. Louis Delmas has been a bright spot but too many questions remain on the edges. Advantage: Bears
Matt says: Even in the win the Lions secondary struggled to defend the pass, giving up 340 yards to Jason Campbell and the Redskins. Like Stafford, Jay Cutler has plenty of arm strength to make all the throws, and return man turned wide receiver Devin Hester has the speed to run down any ball Cutler throws his direction. Advantage: Bears
Chicago's running game vs. Detroit's front seven
Zac says: Matt Forte was one of last season's best rookie backs. He suffered a minor knee injury in week 3 but is expected to pay a large role against the Lions. The injury to Kevin Jones leaves the Bears somewhat thin at running back but Forte is more than capable of carrying the load. The Lions held the Redskins without a rushing yard in the first half last Sunday, including their goal line stand on fourth down. Advantage: Even
Matt says: The Lions run defense did an admirable job in last week's win, and as promised I have upgraded them to 'average' in this category. The Lions rank 16 out of 32 in rushing yards allowed. The Bears have struggled running the ball this season. Starter Matt Forte came into the season with loads of promise, but has only averaged 2.5 yards per carry and hasn't found the end zone. Advantage: Lions
Zac (2-1) says: Game three proved that 2009 will be no repeat of 2008, but games one and two showed just how much progress still needs to be made. I don't think the Lions are at the point where they can go into Chicago and win. Competing with the Bears for four quarters will be progress, even it doesn't result in a win. Chicago 24, Detroit 16
Matt (3-0) says: Now that the gorilla is off of the Lions' back, they can concentrate on just playing football like every other team in the league. They may not win very many games this year, but last week showed that this team is capable of competing at the NFL level. I expect a relatively close game in Detroit's first outdoor contest of the season. Chicago 20, Detroit 17