Nov 13, 2011; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte (22) breaks a run for 40 yards in the second half against the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field. The Bears defeated the Lions 37-13. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-US PRESSWIRE
Detroit Lions (2-3) at Chicago Bears (4-1)
The Lions own a 4-1 advantage over the Bears on MNF, but all 5 previous meetings were in Detroit. This will be the first Bears – Lions Monday Night game at Soldier Field. The Bears have won 7 of the last 8 meetings over the Lions. Last season’s series split was the first since 2003. The Bears have swept the season series in ’05-’06 and ’08 – ’10. The Lions swept in ’04 and ’07.
The Bears enter the game ranked 1st in scoring defense, 1st in rush defense and 3rd in total defense while they rank 2nd in total scoring (thanks largely to the defense). The Lions, meanwhile, come in ranked 2nd in total offense, putting up nearly 420 yards per game. Why are they only ranked 12th in scoring? Probably because they 31st in the league with 8.4 penalties per game. The Lions give up a lot of points (24th overall at 27.6 ppg) with a weak spot of 16th in the passing game.
When the Bears Have the Ball
Jay Cutler and the Bears have had a tough time keeping up with the scoring of their own defense, which has 5 scores through 5 games. Look for the Bears to attack the Lions through the air, trying to take advantage of the Lions’ 16th ranked pass defense riddled with injuries. Expect the Lions to try to take away Brandon Marshall with bracket coverage, so if they do, it will be up to a returning Earl Bennett and an upcoming (as a wide receiver) Devin Hester.
Matt Forte and Michael Bush should offer a formidable challenge to the Lions’ 12th ranked rush defense. A good balanced attack will be a key to throw off Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairly and the rest of the Lions front.
When the Lions Have the Ball
Matthew Stafford has been off all season. Whether it’s bad mechanics or coming back down to Earth from a phenomenal 2011. He and Madden cover-boy Calvin Johnson have failed to hook up for a TD all season. Johnson has piled up a bunch of garbage time yardage, but he’s always a threat to go off. The Lions don’t have much of a running game to speak of, with Mikel LeShoure leading the team with just 196 yards rushing. Don’t expect them to try to rush too much against the Bears’ rush defense; instead Matthew Stafford will chuck the ball around the yard at will.
It’s been a while since the Bears played at Soldier Field, so I’ll repeat Jay Cutler’s early PSA – SHUT UP WHEN THE BEARS HAVE THE BALL. Besides that, Devin Hester will try to bust loose on a return vs a Lions special teams unit that has been shaky to say the least.
The Bears need to start fast to shake off the early rust of a 15 day layoff. They’ve played their best when they’ve had the lead and the Lions are eager to give it, having traied in the 4th quarter in each of their games. The Lions will put up a fight in more ways than one, but at the end of the night, the Bears prevail. Bears 29-Lions 23
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