This is a different Chicago Bears team that played the Lion in Detroit back in Week-5.
It was being said at the beginning of the season, but it's finally becoming true ... the offense is familiar with Martz' scheme.
The confusion at the line of scrimmage has been minimized. A big part of that is due to Martz' evolution as a play caller. Not only has he decreased pre-snap motions, but he is using more spread-action plays and utilizing Cutler's ability to throw on the run. We actually saw a designed roll-out play to the right against the Eagles on Monday night. The Lions also employ the Wide-9 technique. If Avril and Vanden Bosch start giving the o-line fits, look for more designed plays to move Cutler outside of the pocket to buy time and throw down the field.
Again, the Wide-9 technique is inclined to create running lanes, especially off-tackle. So, look for Matt Forte to have yet another big game on the ground running behind Clutts; however, Detroit does have more athletic defensive linemen who play with a mean streak--unlike "Cry-baby" Babin who ran to daddy Godell because he got BLOWED-UP consistently at the line of scrimmage Monday night.
Javhid Best has been ruled out because he's still dealing with lingering concussion symptoms. This is a big blow to the Detroit ground-game because Best has the ability to hit a home run every time he touches the ball. Da Bears learned that when he snapped off an 88 yard scamper back in Week-5. Back-up RB Maurice Morris is formidable, though. He's averaging 4.1 yards per carry on 31 attempts.
The true test will come against trying to shut down Calvin "Megatron" Johnson. Megatron dominated Da Bears' defense in their last meeting with five receptions for 130 yards and a touchdown. He's had hot hands all season. Johnson has scored in every week except one and he's on a four game streak of 100+ yards receiving.
CB Charles Tillman was outstanding last week, but I don't suspect coach Mari-Lovie will play much press or man coverage on Sunday. Megatron is much too physical and is a rear breed WR, unlike the gnats of Philadelphia. Look for Da Bears to change the game plan--as well they should--and get back to more of the Lovie-2 scheme. Da Bears defense will give the Lions different looks before the snap and then break off to their zones or land-marks.
Which leads us to take-aways. Detroit has the best turnover differential in the NFL with +13. The Detroit defense has taken the ball away from teams 18 times, but has only turned the ball over five times. Da Bears MUST win the turnover battle or they WILL lose this game.
Lions QB Matthew Stafford is deadly-accurate--when he has time in the pocket. Da Bears d-line needs to get consistent pressure on Stafford to make him uncomfortable and maybe bait him into throwing a few passes he'll wish he can have back.
Major Wright didn't have a particularly good game on Monday and he began to share time with Brandon "Head-shot" Merriwether. We'll see more of a time split this Sunday. This is Merriwether's chance to redeem himself after constantly doing the wrong thing in Lovie's scheme by free-lancing like an undisciplined high school hot-head.
Rookie safety Chris Conte still really hasn't been tested deep since he won the SP (starting position). I think that will change Sunday and Stafford will look to expose his inexperience.
WSCR's Bears beat reporter Zach Zaidman reported that Da Bears are more mad now after watching tape from Week-5 than they were after that game. They've recognized the silly mistakes they've made and they're itching at the chance to rectify the situation.
Da Bears have improved each week in the past month. They're not happy that their long time little brother in the Lions is all grown up. This game has playoff implications and I expect Da Bears to play the way a team would win a playoff game...by running the ball effectively, chewing the clock, and executing a few big plays.
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