Dec 14, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (81) runs the ball during the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Detroit won 16-14. Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
Overview: The Detroit Lions are coming to town this weekend for a rematch of a Thanksgiving blowout that crushed the hopes of Bears fans and players alike. The Lions are 10-4 on the season and right in the thick of the playoff race, currently sitting atop the NFC North and in good position to push for a Wild Card spot should they blow the tiebreaker with the Packers. The Bears have nothing left to play for this season, but I’m certain that nothing would please the embattled coaches and players more than an upset of their longtime division rivals. It appears that the changes the Detroit Lions made to their coaching staff are already paying dividends, as they seem to be avoiding the late season collapse we’ve all become accustomed to in recent years. It looked like they might slip back into old habits when they dropped back to back games against the New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals back in November, but have since righted the ship with three consecutive victories. The Detroit Lions are a beatable team, however, having narrowly escaped defeat at the hands of the less than impressive Minnesota Vikings 16-14 just last week.
Injuries: The newest development on this front for the Detroit Lions is the season ending knee injury to right tackle LaAdrian Waddle. Replacing him will be undrafted rookie Cornelius Lucas. I would normally say that this is a weakness that the Bears should exploit, but they failed to do so when Lucas was filling in on the left side for a sidelined Riley Reiff during the Thanksgiving game so I don’t expect the result to be much different in this one. Reggie Bush could be back this week, which could be ugly for the Monsters of the Midway, given the trouble they had containing Pierre Thomas as a pass catcher last night against the Saints.
Key Matchups: The Bears must contain Calvin Johnson, if they want to have any hope of defeating the Detroit Lions. I don’t think they will, but I’d like to see some actual game planning to attempt it. The Bears clearly don’t have a cornerback on their roster that can single cover Megatron, as we all saw on Thanksgiving when Johnson had his way with promising rookie Kyle Fuller, but they could limit his production by sending some extra attention his way. The other area of concern that I have is in the trenches. The Bears’ offensive line did not look good on Monday, and the Detroit Lions have a much better pass rush than the Saints. If this unit can’t muster a better effort than that come Sunday, this game might be over before it starts.
The Way I See It: I’m not entirely sure that I’ll be rooting for the Bears in this game. Bear with me (no pun intended). Not only would a loss help Chicago secure a top 10 pick in the NFL Draft this May, but it could actually hurt the Packers’ playoff chances. The race for the Wild Card spots in the NFC is a close one this year, and there is a strong chance that an 11 win team winds up on the outside looking in. I’m not the sort of fan that hate’s the Packers more than he loves the Bears, but the Bears have nothing left to play for. Plus, I really do dislike the Packers.
What do you guys think? Who will you be rooting for this weekend?