Thursday, December 2, 2010

Bears vs. Lions Preview

It would be a terrible, overused cliche' to call the upcoming game against the Lions a classic "trap" game. The Bears are coming off their biggest win since their 2006 season and their playoff chances are squarely in their own hands. If they win three out of the final five games, they are in. If they win two out of the final five games, it could get dicey with tiebreakers and such. In order to win at least three with a difficult remaining schedule, they MUST win this game. Since I'm just a fan untethered to the mores of quality journalism, I'm going to scream the overused cliche' from the highest mountaintops. This is a classic "trap" game!

Drew Stanton will be starting for the Lions on Sunday. It seems like the Bears can't get out of the way of good fortune when it comes to their opponents' quarterbacks this season. This will be the third time they have faced either the back-up (Jimmy Clausen) or the third-stringer (Tyler Thigpen). In both of those cases, they dominated on defense. I see Peppers, Izzy, and company putting consistent pressure on Stanton and forcing mistakes. If the defensive line doesn't give the effort they gave against the Eagles, though, the Bears could be in a dogfight. Scott Linehan, Lions' offensive coordinator, runs an offense that can be effective against the cover-2. He'll take the underneath routes, slants, and dump-offs available to him. I doubt they can play mistake-free football needed to actually beat the Bears, but, since I've already called this a "trap" game, I worry what'll happen if maximum effort isn't there on defense.

Stanton does have one very intimidating weapon at his disposal, however--Calvin "Megatron" Johnson. His "drop" against the Bears during the opening game of the season has helped push the notion the Bears have been lucky all year (until last week, that is). They will need to commit all available resources to stopping him (are you out there Optimus Prime?) Truthfully, though, the Bears DOMINATED the Lions in that game, but kept shooting themselves in the foot (four turnovers). The Bears racked up 463 yards of offense while only giving up 168 yards. In many ways, it was the best the Bears looked on offense. The high-flying Martz offense was on full display. Cutler was 23 for 35 for 372 yards. No, seriously. But, the injuries and shake-up to the offensive line put that type of offense on ice for the year. Now, they rely on shorter passes, a solid running game, and a mobile Jay Cutler making plays with his nimble feet. That formula has been very successful during their current winning streak, but I expect Martz to open things up a little bit in this game against a weak Lions secondary. I don't think he'll go crazy, especially with the Lions possessing a poor run defense, but I wouldn't be shocked to see a few more seven-step drops this week. And, Forte will get his second 100-yard rushing game in a row.

The Lions have a good defensive line, and Suh is living up to the hype. The Bears offensive line will need to have another solid game to slow them down up front. Cutler will get sacked a few times, but if the o-line can limit their blown assignments, the Bears should be able to move to 9-3.

I just don't see how the Lions offense can score more than 17 points, and I'm probably being generous with that number. I know I've called this a "trap" game, and I really am worried that the Bears will come out flat, but this team just beat an Eagles team that was soaring. The Bears will take care of business on Sunday, even if it's less exciting than last week.

Bears 27, Lions 13

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