The Bears and Lions face off for the 165th time on Monday Night, with the Bears holding a 94-65-5 edge in the overall series. The Bears come off their bye week with a 4-1 record, sitting atop the NFC North while the 2-3 Lions may have saved their season with a comeback win over the Eagles last week.
For the Lions, the offense hasn’t seemed to get into a rhythm all season, with Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson failing to connect for a TD all season. (Johnson’s lone TD came with Shaun Hill in relief of Stafford). On the defensive side, their defensive line continues to be the engine that drives the unit, but the secondary is such a mess, they’re vulnerable through the air. The Lion’s 2-3 record could very well be 4-1, with special teams costing them two games by giving up two return TD’s in each game.
So what do the Bears need to do to secure a victory and pick up where they left off before the BYE? Here are my keys to a Chicago Bears victory, with a motor city theme.
The Bears take to the Soldier Field turf for the first time in almost a month on Monday night and a full 15 days after their beatdown of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Despite the long layoff, they cannot afford to show signs of any rust. A key to their success has been playing with a lead. When they do that, it takes a lot of pressure off Jay Cutler and allows them to mix in a steady dose of Matt Forte. On the defensive side, playing with a lead allows the defensive line to play downhill and attack opposing offenses. The Lions have trailed in the 4th quarter in all their games this season, so they’re used to coming from behind. It’s up the Bears to get an early lead and put this one out of reach.
Check the Tread on the Tires
A lot of the pregame talk in this game will be around wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Calvin Johnson. Deservedly so, as they’re among the best in the business. The key for the Bears is to check the tread on their tires and get their ground game going. By giving the Lions a steady dose of Matt Forte, it slows the Lions’ defensive line and will open up some things downfield.
For the Lions, they don’t have much of a rushing attack, so it’s up to the Bears to prevent them from a surprising 163 yard outburst on just 12 carries that Jahvid Best dropped on them last season on MNF in Detroit.
Obey the Rules of the Road
The rivalry between the Bears and Lions has heated up in the last couple of years and came to a boil last season when DJ Moore was ejected following an incident with Matthew Stafford in a game marred by penalties for both clubs. They say the Lions play “to the echo of the whistle” which is a nice way of saying they play a little dirty. It’s up the Bears not to let a desperate team bait them into extra-curricular activities and draw unnecessary penalties which could stall their scoring drives (yes, I’m talking to you Gabe Carimi!) or extend Lions drives.
Get in the Fast Lane
As menti0ned earlier, the Lions have already given up 4 return touchdowns this season and the Bears have one of the best returners in the league in Devin Hester. He’s been close in a couple of games and you could tell that he was really trying to get one in the Jacksonville game, but this is the game for Hester to get back in the scoring column in the return game.
What do you think? What are your keys to a Bears victory? Let’s hear your thoughts in the Comments and as always…