The season is now officially underway after the NFL kicked off its season last with the Saints beating the Vikings 14-9. Sorry Vikings fans (not THAT sorry, though). Favre looked rusty, but Adrian Peterson looked great, and the defense was stout. Unfortunately, for Bears fans, the Vikings will again be a good team. I was kind of hoping for a Transformers 2-type debacle where Favre and Chilly went at it on the sidelines like Sean Penn and Wycleff Jean. No such luck. Ok, that's enough about the 0-1 Vikings. Let's talk about the 0-0 Bears!
LIONS vs. BEARS PREVIEW
Will the Bears let the lowly Lions spoil their season and home opener? At first glance, this looks like an easy game for the Bears. The Lions haven't won on the road since Justin Bieber was born, and they have managed just two total wins in their previous 32 games. This should be a cakewalk for the Bears. Yet, those stats don't tell the whole story. Detroit has managed to add some talent due to their "favorable" draft position these past few seasons (Stafford, Best, Suh), and they added some quality defensive lineman via free agency and trades (Vanden Bosch, Corey Williams). Plus, they've still got Calvin Johnson, one of the most freakishly talented receivers in the game. There are only seven players remaining on the roster from their 0-16 season. To say these are the same Lions would be to ignore simple facts. This is a different team.
So, does that mean the Lions will come into Soldier and "upset" the favored Bears? Due to the reasons listed above, there are a fair amount of people predicting exactly that. I don't see it going that way. The Bears will be able to throw the ball against a suspect Lions secondary. Cutler will probably get sacked three or four times, but he'll also make some plays down field while escaping the pocket. If Lance Louis can slow down Suh at all, Cutler could have a big game. Forte had only two games last year when he rushed for more than 100 yards. Both came against the Lions. I don't think he'll rush for a hundred on Sunday, but he and Taylor should be effective, if unspectacular. I also see them both being used effectively on screen passes and dump offs. There is also a small chance that this game could be Johnny Knox's coming out party as a top-flight NFL receiver. Cutler targeted him often during the preseason, and Knox's speed could cause huge problems for Detroit.
I think Peppers will harass Stafford most of the day. With this being his first game in a Bears uniform, he'll be extra motivated to strut his stuff. There is also an outside chance that 2005 Tommie Harris will make an appearance. If that happens, I pray for Stafford. Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs are both expected to play, so the run defense should be stiff. I think Jahvid Best will make a play or two, but I don't think he'll take over the game. Calvin Johnson will likely catch seven or eight balls and probably score at least once. But, I can live with that, as long as the Bears' secondary limits the other options. Brandon Pettigrew should struggle against Pisa Tinoisamoa and Urlacher due to their range and coverage skills.
I think this will be a tight game. The Bears offense will likely turn the ball over one or two times, and Calvin Johnson will make plays against the secondary. But, I think Cutler makes enough of his own explosive plays that the Bears squeak by while adjusting to their new offensive line and scheme. Robbie Gould might get the game ball.
Bears win 23-20