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Detroit Lions to be top dogs in NFC North
- Updated: November 8, 2013
Fresh off a surprising (and injury-aided) victory in Green Bay on Monday Night Football, the Chicago Bears (5-3) now host the Detroit Lions (5-3) in Week 10.
Now that both teams are tied with Green Bay atop the NFC North and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is expected to miss the next three to six games, the stakes could not be much bigger.
To put it bluntly, the winner of this game becomes the favorite to win the division title.
Things did not go well for Chicago when these two teams met at Ford Field in Week 4. The Lions staked a huge halftime lead and ended up winning 40-32 in a game that was not as close as the final score indicates.
Since then, Detroit has remained fairly healthy, while the Bears have lost key defensive players in defensive tackle Nate Collins and linebackers D.J. Williams and Lance Briggs. Even though the Bears are at home, they will not have an easy time getting the win.
Starting quarterback Jay Cutler has missed the last 1.5 games with a groin injury, but backup Josh McCown has filled in superbly, throwing three touchdowns against zero interceptions and leading the offense to 51 points.
Cutler has officially been cleared to play this week and will start, although there is still a chance he could re-aggravate his injury in warmups or during the game and McCown would have to step in.
Regardless of whether McCown or Cutler is under center, the offense should be able to move the ball and score some points. The uncertainty around which of them will play may give the Bears a slight leg up, as Detroit will have to prepare for their different styles.
Long vs. Suh
Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh had a monster game against the rookie guard Kyle Long the first time around, notching four tackles and two sacks while consistently making disruptive plays in Chicago’s backfield.
Long has had six weeks to mature and improve, and a better performance from him this time will be vital for helping the Bears offense produce.
Improve run defense
Chicago’s run defense has been atrocious in the three games since they moved defensive end Corey Wootton to defensive tackle and inserted Shea McClellin into the starting lineup at defensive end. They have given up 531 yards (5.4 yards per carry) and seven touchdowns on the ground.
Now they have to worry about Detroit’s dynamic backfield duo of Reggie Bush and Joique Bell, who have combined to rush for 754 yards and six touchdowns so far this year.
Defensive players must step up their individual efforts in order to better hold up against the run. The defensive line needs to hold up at the point of attack, the linebackers need to attack the right gaps, the safeties need to take better angles to the ball, and everybody needs to stop missing tackles when they have a chance to bring the ball carrier down.
Continue improved pass rush
After a lackluster pass rush that saw only nine sacks in their first seven games, the Chicago Bears totaled five sacks last week against Green Bay. Defensive ends Julius Peppers and Shea McClellin both played their best games of the season and made plays in the backfield, combining for four sacks and an interception.
A continued effort like that will be instrumental in helping slow down Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford.
Avoid special teams miscues
Chicago has long been known for having one of the best special teams units in the league, but that has not been the case this year.
They had two breakdowns last week—a blocked punt and giving up a successful onside kick—that allowed Green Bay to stay in the game. Other miscues this season include allowing a big punt return against Detroit in Week 4 that helped blow the game open.
With a banged-up defense, the Bears cannot afford to give up easy points on special teams. They need to emphasize fundamentals this week to ensure they cover the basics and don’t have any meltdowns against Detroit.
If both of these teams were healthy, this would be a much more difficult game to predict. As it is, Detroit is clearly the healthier team right now, which makes them the clear favorites here.
With the way their defense has been playing, it’s hard to see the Chicago Bears stopping Detroit enough times to give their offense a chance to win this game, regardless of whether Cutler or McCown is at quarterback. The clearest way this could change is through a big edge in turnovers, which is always a possibility with this ball-hawking defense.
Expect both teams to score a decent amount of points, but Detroit should win behind a massive day from Reggie Bush.
Final score: Detroit Lions 34, Chicago Bears 27
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@FalconsFan0125 Not if Rodgers is playing, or if it's the NFCCG.
I have that same feeling... not even as a homer thing...
ok well since rosenbloom gave his homer prediction here is mine
The game is going to be a walk over the Lions are better than we give than credit for.
They are first place in the NFCN and they have one of the best passing game in the NFL with the best WO in CJ.
A running game with B&B (Bush and Bell) that open wide open with the pass to make room for the run. The run up the GUT make room for the 5 to 15 yards pass over the middle.
No turn overs no play after the whistle and we have a team that can go to the Super Bowl
THE GREAT DETROIT LIONS....55
Avatar bet the Lions don't win by 43?
I got the "give me a 60 second commercial on Adam" yesterday...
ima ban you for embedding something
adam i think i already asked you this but what is your prediction for the game this weekend
rosenbloom from chi tribune predicted bears win 49-7
That's ridiculous... I think the Bears win 31-28. I'm expecting a bit of a shoot out... Bears will be able to move the ball on the Lions but I don't think the Bears can stop the Lions. Bears will need some turnovers.
not sure what kind of koolaid he drinks but he either smokes it or snorts it
@Awesome Flaming Lion Is there any other team that does not ecilpse the Lions franchise record?
@Awesome Flaming Lion wow, that's kinda sad. It only took 5 seasons of mediocre play to do it.
@Maized and Confused Bobby Layne = overrated
Not getting it this weekend.
@Maized and Confused hey, that's our best franchise QB you're talking about!
Adam, you're not gonna leave us with your new job like Raji did, are you?
Because I don't think I could take that kind of abandonment again!
I'm going to try not to... but I have to test the internet waters first. I don't start until 12/9.
He should be!