The Detroit Lions (5-3) and the Chicago Bears (5-3) will meet for the 168th time ever on Sunday afternoon. The Bears have won five straight against the visiting Lions at Soldier Field dating back to 2007.
The Lions beat the Bears in the first meeting this season, 40-32 at Ford Field. Bears' quarterback Jay Cutler turned the ball over four times, which included three interceptions and one lost fumble.
Cutler returns for arguably the most important game of the season minus last week's gigantic matchup against the Green Bay Packers. He has looked sharped this season under first-year head coach Marc Trestman and his west-coast offense.
The Lions defensive line is scary good with Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley leading the way. Suh abused Cutler in the Week Four meeting, making four tackles, two sacks and forcing one fumble.
The Bears offensive line should be better off in this matchup considering their home crowd is behind them. Rookies Kyle Long and Jordan Mills struggled on the right side in their first big road test of the season.
The Lions offense has been one of the best this season. Matthew Stafford and Co. has helped his team rank third in total offense (416 yards per game), which includes an average of 318 passing yards per game, second-best in the league.
The Bears' defense is allowing about 29 points per game and 381 yards per game of total offense. Their being carved up allowing 6.1 yards per play, which is second worst behind only the Jacksonville Jaguars this season.
The run defense has been pretty bad thus far allowing opponents to average about 127.5 yards per game on the ground.
Can the Bears take down the visiting Lions, who have been on a roll as of late?
This game has a ton of meaning for both NFC North teams. Who will come away with the victory?
Bears- Linebacker Lance Briggs (shoulder), long snapper Patrick Mannelly (calf) and defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff (groin) have all been ruled out of Sunday's game after not being able to practice this week. Jeremy Cain will replace Mannelly whose missed only nine games in 16-year career in Chicago.
---Defensive end Shea McClellin is listed as doubtful after tweaking his hamstring in practice on Thursday. He was limited on Thursday and sat out completely on Friday. Cornerback Charles Tillman (knee) practiced in full on Thursday and Friday after being limited on Wednesday.
Lions- Wide receiver Nate Burleson (forearm) has been ruled out after being limited in practice all week. Defensive end Ziggy Ansah (ankle), cornerback Bill Bentley (knee) and tackle Corey Hilliard (knee) are all doubtful after not practicing all week.
---Wide receiver Calvin Johnson (knee) and safety Glover Quin Jr. (ankle) were both limited in practice all week, but are listed as probable.
Players Who Must Step Up
Not often do offensive linemen make this list, but the 34-year-old is an important player on this Bears team. He keeps the offensive line together as the main leader on-and-off the field. He isn't the same player he once was, but he still delivers the snaps on time and in a good spot to the quarterback. The Bears haven't had much success running the ball up the middle, Garza surely has something to do with that. This is a gigantic game for Garza, who has a tough matchup against a very talented Lions pass rush.
The 25-year-old defensive tackle has been no where to be found since his nice Week One performance, which included seven tackles and 0.5 sack. He has posted two tackles per game since the opening game of the season. He did miss two weeks (Week Five-Week Six) with a turf toe injury, but he is 100 percent and the excuses have to stop. He needs to step up in this one with McClellin likely out and the defensive line already thin.
The 22-year-old rookie has 15 tackles on the season. 11 of those tackles are solo, which is definitely promising. He made a big impact against the Redskins in Week Seven racking up eight tackles, but against Green Bay last week he had a quiet four tackle performance. He is still learning. But the kid is smart I'll tell you that much. He has been staying in his gaps for the most part and looking pretty solid in pass coverage. This is a big test for him against Matthew Stafford and Reggie Bush.
Final Score Prediction
Bears 30, Lions 28
The Bears have plenty of talent on offense to keep up with the Lions, but can they contain Reggie Bush and Calvin Johnson on defense. I think Marc Trestman and his coaching staff have put together a solid gameplan in a game that decides a ton moving forward. Jay Cutler should be able to have a solid game with ample time in the pocket to make his reads.
Mostly sunny. Highs in the mid 40s. Northwest winds 10 to 20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph early in the morning becoming west 10 to 15 mph in the late morning and afternoon.
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