The Bears travel to Detroit after an inconsistent performance at Pittsburgh last Sunday night. The Bears 96 wins against Detroit are the most by one team over another in NFL history. The have also dominated the rivalry recent. Dating back to their second game of the 2007 season, the Bears have won 13 of their last 16 meetings. They also have a three game winning streak against the Lions and have won nine of ten.
Overcoming Key Injuries
Both teams lost key players in the last week. Starting Defensive Tackle Henry Melton is out for the season after tearing his ACL last week for the Bears. Lions starting wide receiver Nate Burleson broke his arm in a car accident after watching Monday night football with his teammates. How each team replaces these players will greatly impact the outcome.
Nate Collins and Stephen Paea will get the starts at defensive tackle in Melton's place. Corey Wooten might see some snaps at DT and possibly Julius Peppers.
Ryan Broyles is being touted as the man to step in and get most of the targets Burleson would have seen. Although listed behind Calvin Johnson on the depth chart, Broyles should battle with Kris Durham on the other side.
Winning the Line of Scrimage
This might seem like an obvious important battle in any game, but the Bears and Lions feature two of the NFL's best defensive lines.
The Bears offensive line has been one of the NFL's most improved in 2013. One of the worst offensive lines the last few seasons, the Bears rank second with only three sacks allowed this season. They only rank 18th in yards rushing per attempt.
The Lions offensive line is the only line better at protecting the passer than the Bears. They have allowed only two sacks. The need to do a better job at run blocking. Detroit ranks 26th in yards per rush.
The Lions defense has been more stout this season. Detroit ranks 18th with 366 yards per game.
After allowing 459 yards last week in Pittsburgh, the Bears fell to 25th in yards allowed per game with 383.
Amazingly, neither defensive line has been dominant this season. They have combined for only 11 sacks this season. The Lions rank 24th and the Bears 28th in sacks through three weeks.
Both teams have been stout on the ground. The Bears rank eighth with just 88 yards per game allowed and Detroit is 15th with 104.
Win the Turnover Battle
The Bears defense has lived up to its historical nickname as the Monsters of the Midway the last few seasons. When the defense scores, the Bears a 13-1 since the start of the 2011 season. The Bears have three defensive touchdowns in the last two weeks.
Through three games this season the Bears have forced 11 turnovers. They are tied with Seattle at plus six. Detroit is tied for third at plus three.
Limit Reggie Bush
After missing last week with a knee injury, Bush returns this week. He had 191 total yards, including a 77 yard touchdown in week one. He is one of the most versatile backs in the NFL and poses matchup problems for most teams, no matter who covers him. The Lions like to move him around, so both the linebackers and secondary will have to pay attention to where Bush lines up.
How Well Will Paea and Collins Play in Melton's Absence?
Paea has been arguably the Bears best defensive lineman through the first three games of the season. Stats don't always tell the story for the D-Lineman. His 11 tackles lead the defensive lineman through three games though. He also has half a sack. He caused pressure on Andy Dalton in the Bears opening week win over Cincinnati. He and Shea McClellin shared it.
Collins has four tackles and three assists. At 6'2 he is the Bears tallest interior lineman.