You should be rivals with the teams in your division. At least that is how Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith feels, and I think you would be hard pressed to find many people who would disagree with him. One of the feistiest games in recent history for the Bears took place last year against the Detroit Lions, a game in which we saw fights and ejections. The stage will be a bright one for these two teams as they get set to face each other on Monday Night Football.
The Lions season was looking like it was ready to fall of the thread it was barely hanging onto, but they were able to pull a win out in overtime last week against the Philadelphia Eagles. Regardless of the win, the Lions still sit at the bottom of the NFC north with a 2-4 record.
Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has had his share of struggles this season, including having a hard time getting the ball to wide receiver Calvin Johnson in some key situations. Johnson, who is considered maybe the best wide receiver in the game, has failed to reach the end zone so far this season, and Stafford has only thrown for four touchdowns over their first six games.
The problem for Detroit is that without a passing game, their offense is pretty much nonexistent. Mikel Leshoure is their leading rusher, and he sits with just 196 yards and one touchdown on the season. It isn’t hard to see why the Lions sit with such a poor record.
The Lions number two receiver this year has been tight end Brandon Pettigrew, and if the Lions are going to be able to move down field early on, their best bet is likely to use Pettigrew to do so, as it is no secret what tight ends can do if the offense is patient enough against the Cover-2 defense.
For the Bears on offense, it is all about being able to get good enough protection to get the receivers into the secondary. The front four of the Lions have a lot of talent, but it hasn’t done much to help their overall defense, which is poor in pass defense. For whatever reason, quarterback Jay Cutler hasn’t thrown for many yards in his career against the Lions, so it will be interesting to see if Cutler is able to turn history around in front of the nation.
It doesn’t help that the Bears passing game hasn’t been in sync for most of the season. In fact, the Bears are only averaging 223 yards per game through the air, although Cutler and company have looked better against some weaker defenses lately.
Smith has shined as coach of the Bears on the Monday night stage, going 8-2 in his career as head coach of the Bears on Monday night.
Look for the Bears to use Matt Forte, who has had a lot of success against the Lions, to open up the passing game and buy Cutler an extra second to work their way into the secondary. It is hard to believe that the Lions struggles on offense will continue all season, but against one of the best defenses thus far in the 2012 season, I would expect it to continue one more week.
Bears 27 Lions 17