Welcome to Week 4 and the biggest matchup of the season as the 3-0 Bears head to Motown to take on the 2-1 Detroit Lions. The winner claims sole possession of first place in the NFC North.
If you want to talk about rivalries, the Bears and Packers gets top billing, but in recent years, the Bears and Lions have gotten quite a nice one going. Sure, the Bears have been winning a majority of the games, but there’s no shortage of bad blood between the two teams.
Detroit Lions (2-1)
The Lions come into the game ranked 6th overall in the NFL in scoring, averaging 27.3 points per game. They’re 4th in total offense and 2nd in passing offense, putting up 336 yards per game. Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson lead the Lions attack, hooking up for an average of nearly 90 yards and a touchdown per game. Reggie Bush adds a new dimension to the Lions attack, providing a dual threat accounting for about 125 yards per game. With Nate Burleson out with a broken arm, the secondary receiving options for the Lions are weakened.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Lions are smack dab in the middle of the league in points allowed, allowing 23 per game while they rank 18th in total defense. Ndamukong Suh leads the defense in performance and usually stupidity on the field. Suh blurs the line between aggressive and dirty play. He and Jay Cutler have a little bit of a history, so the matchup today should be particularly interesting.
The rest of the defensive front is stout too, with Nick Fairly playing alongside Suh on the inside. Izzy Idonije jumped ship and plays for the enemy while rookie Ziggy Ansah learns the ropes.
The Lions have tried to reshape their secondary, but it’s still a work in progress. Louis Delmas is a talented safety, but injuries have limited his development on the field the last couple of years. Darius Slay was drafted in the second round, but he’s also still wet behind the ears.
Chicago Bears (3-0)
The Bears head into the game holding a 96-65-5 record over the Lions, most wins of any team over another team in NFL history. The last two times the Bears started the season 3-0 were in 2006 and 2010, both seasons where they went deep into the playoffs. I’m just sayin’.
The Bears rank 3rd in scoring, but only 22nd in total offense, thanks in large part to their opportunistic defense and Devin Hester’s return to full time returning. Jay Cutler sits behind an improved offensive line, which has allowed him to get off to one of his best starts as a Bear. He’s taking care of the ball and being efficient, not spectacular, running Marc Trestmna’s offense.
Matt Forte is another dual threat, leading the Bears in rushing and second on the team in catches. Brandon Marshall is far and away the Bears top receiving threat, but the supporting cast is vastly improved, including second year man Alshon Jeffery and tight end Martellus Bennett.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bears rank a shocking 25th in total defense, giving up 383 yards per game. They rank 19th in points allowed and 24th in pass defense.
The defensive line suffered a blow, losing Pro Bowl DT Henry Melton for the season to a torn ACL last week. Julius Peppers has been MIA this season, while Corey Wootton and Shea McClellin have been rotating on the other end with limited results. Stephen Paea and Nick Collins will be forced to step up their games to make up for Melton’s loss.
The linebackers look different in 2013, with Brian Urlacher no longer anchoring the defense. Lance Briggs now leads the defense and calls the signals, but Charles Tillman is arguably the Bears’ most important defender.