The 2-3 Chicago Bears will travel to Detroit to take on the surprisingly undefeated Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football. The Bears are coming off of a 34-29 win over the Carolina Panthers, while the Lions had a come-from-behind win against the Cowboys, 34-30.
The Lions have been looking decent since the start of the season but still suffer from slow starts on offense. One of these days a slow start is going to give them a loss, and if they start slowly against the Bears can they get back up and win the game? Can the Bears stop the Lions and hand them their first loss?
Or is Chicago’s offense going to hold this team back and cost them a win? Will the defense be able to rebound from a poor performance last week?
Let’s find out as we take a look ahead at the Bears/Lions game on Monday Night Football in Detroit.
When the Bears have the Ball
Chicago ran its way to a win last week against the Panthers and has what it takes to be a strong running team. Let’s just hope that offensive coordinator Mike Martz realizes this and keeps it up.
The problem with running the ball so much is that the Bears passing game seems to fall behind and isn’t that effective. When the Bears were forced to try to convert some third down opportunities in their game through the air they failed. Either Cutler isn’t getting the right protection, or the receivers aren’t running the right routes.
Take your pick.
Chicago is going to have to pass the ball in this game, especially since the Lions can score points in bunches and the Bears may find themselves behind at some point. What can the Bears do to improve their passing game against the Lions?
For one, the receivers have to run the right routes as well as catch the ball. The Bears' receivers have had some problems catching the ball and haven’t been running accurate routes. They need to do this in order to make the passing offense work.
Cutler also needs some protection to throw the ball, and the Bears did shuffle their offensive line around a little bit last week and may do it again. The Bears put guard Lance Louis over into the right tackle spot with limited success (in place of Frank Omiyale) and we may see that again this week.
The Bears will have to pass the ball in order to win. But can they manage that simple part of the game?
Running the ball won't be difficult, as the Bears have one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL. Martz needs to stick with the running game, mixing in the pass to help make things work right for the Bears. The Lions have been allowing some yards on the ground, and the Bears could get some help from their running game in that aspect. But they can’t rely on the running game alone.
When the Lions have the Ball
The Lions offense has been hot and cold lately. In their last two games, the offense was stagnant for a better part of the game and was unable to score enough to keep pace with the Vikings and the Cowboys. With some help from their defense, the Lions have been able to overcome deficits and win games.
The problem for the Lions is, if they get behind in this game like they have in their last two contests then it’s likely they won't be able to get back in it, due to the fact that the Bear’s defense isn’t going to let them storm back like they have in the past.
This defense is way too good to let the Lions come back like that. So the key will be keeping the Lions from scoring early so that the Bears can build that lead and keep the Lions from mounting one of their patented comebacks.
The Bears have had success at keeping opponents from completing long passes against them while forcing them to go for the short to intermediate passes (a staple of the cover two defense).
This really works well when the Bears get a good pass rush going, and they have a chance of doing that in this game. The Lions offensive line hasn’t been that strong, so if the Bears can exploit that then they have a good chance of winning this game.
The Lions' running game hasn’t been exactly the best in the NFL, but the Bears have allowed even stagnant rushing attacks to come alive against them (see the Carolina game last week) and they can’t afford to do it in this game. If the Bears can shut down the Lions rushing attack and tee off on Stafford they will have a lot of success in this game.
The secondary is going to be challenged by the Lions' receivers in this game. With both Calvin Johnson and Nate Burleson in the lineup the Bears secondary is going to have their hands full. The good news is, they can provide good coverage if the Bears are able to get pass pressure, and they should be able to do that.
The Bears have one of the best special teams units in the NFL, and they have been doing very well in all aspects since the start of the year. The Lions may choose to kick away from Devin Hester, who has already one touchdown this season, but kicking away from him could put the ball in the hands of Johnny Knox. The Lions may have to sacrifice field position in order to keep the Bears from gaining even better position with Hester and Knox.
Both Robbie Gould and Adam Podlesh should have a great game kicking. The Lions don’t have too many threats in the return game, so the Bears should be good there.
The Bears have the experience on their coaching staff while the Lions' head coach, Jim Schwartz, is still a young coach and still lacks experience. Smith knows what it takes to win, but the biggest question is, will he do what it takes to win?
The Bears need to win this game not only to keep their playoffs hopes alive, but to down what has become one of the better teams in the NFL. The Lions are playing good football but certainly not sound football, and if the Bears can get things going on both sides of the ball then they have an excellent chance of winning this game.
Building an early lead is going to be important for the Bears, and if the Lions play like they have in the past two games, the Bears could build that lead. But the defense has to hold that lead, and their defense has had problems keeping teams from piling up a lot of yards on them lately.
The Bears and the Lions always play one another tough, and this promises to be a knock-down, drag-out fight. These teams dislike one another and both play very hard when they get together. The team that wants it more, makes the fewest mistakes, and can move the ball effectively on offense will this game.
The Bears have had it rough over the past few weeks. They haven’t been able to get much going with their passing game, have problems converting on third downs, and have been shown to be a one-dimensional offense. The defense has struggled to keep opponents' passing games from gaining a lot of yards, and has laid an egg against the rush the last three weeks.
The Lions' rushing attack may not be able to gain a lot of yards, but their passing attack is dangerous. Calvin Johnson may very well be the best receiver in the NFL and the Bears secondary is going to struggle against him. There is also Nate Burleson, another reliable pass catcher. The Bears' pass rush has to come through in this game.
The Bears won’t be able handle the Lions tonight, and will fall to them in this game.
Detroit 21, Chicago 13