The next 24 hours will be crazy for yours truly so I hope the debate rages until early Friday morning - when I'll have the Friday picks and some additional material.
- I always like the Chicago Bears.
- The Lions simply don't have an answer for the suddenly-potent Jay Cutler passing attack. Opposing quarterbacks have a QB rating of 123.7, throwing 10 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. According to Larry Mayer at DaSite, the Bears and Cardinals are the only two teams featuring three receivers with at least 159 yards receiving. (Yes I know it's an arbitrary number but you get the point.) Add in Jersey Greg and Double Deuce and I'm projecting Cutler at 352 yards and 3 scores.
- As David Haugh intuitively reported, the Chicago Bears have become an accountable organization. Both Lovie Smith and Ron Turner took the blame for bad play calls on Sunday - something I simply can't remember happening during this tenure. This coaching staff knows how impossible the next two weeks will be for them in Chicago should they lose. They'll put the hammer down early.
- Matthew Stafford. Division game. On the road.
- The Bears will have two men on Calvin Johnson all afternoon and use whomever is playing linebacker to attack the quarterback. Stafford doesn't throw on the move as well as any of the three quarterbacks the Bears have faced thus far, making improvisational magic on third-and-long a tall order. This has been their biggest defensive flaw.
- I expect the Lions to punt quite a bit. And when you punt quite a bit to Devin Hester, Jeff Joniak gets to say the word "ridiculous".
- The Bears are flat-out the better team. At every single position on the field. Every one.
Chicago Bears 33, Detroit Lions 16
Lions have no shot at beating the Bears this weekend. And for that
statement alone, that reason, the Lions have everything in their favor heading
into Sunday. After all, if the Lions lose at Soldier Field, who gives a
shit, right? But if they win, if...they...win, the world will simply
come undone. Make no mistake, the Lions aren't very good, but ALL of the
pressure is on the Bears.
the Bears are 89-65-5 (.582) against the Lions. However, the average
margin of victory has only been two points (19-17). I expect another
close game for the following reasons:
team can run the football well. So far, Matt Forte is averaging 2.5
yards per carry in his first 150 attempts. He seems almost useless unless
he's catching passes out of the backfield (and he's hardly being
targeted). Kevin Smith looks like he's out, which means Maurice Morris
will start. With Forte playing the way he is, the Lions will focus on
stopping the pass. This strategy is a luxury that wasn't afforded to them
in their two losses--they focused on stopping the Saints passing game and got
burned by the rush (Mike Bell: 28 carries, 143 yards); they focused on stopping
the Vikings rushing game (Adrian Peterson) and got burned by the pass (Favre:
23-27, 2 TD, 0 INT). The Lions aren't good enough to stop a balanced
attack. But if they focus on stopping the pass, and Forte fails to take
advantage on the ground, this might be a nail-biter.
feature big receivers/Calvin Johnson can't be stopped. This weak
Bears secondary has already been burned in three straight weeks: Greg Jennings
(6 catches, 106 yards), Santonio Holmes (5 catches, 83 yards--several drops,
including a sure TD), and Nate Burleson (9 catches, 109 yards). Johnson,
who is 6-foot-5, is four inches taller than every Bears corner, safety and
linebacker (except for Hunter Hillenmeyer). Across from him is 6-foot-3
Bryant Johnson. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew is 6-foot-5. This
height advantage will be something to watch.
Yeah, I know it's only one win. But it's one win after 19-straight
losses. You don't think these guys are pumped up?
Thoughts: The Bears take the Lions too lightly and make some costly
turnovers (one results in a defensive TD). Calvin Johnson has a monster
day. Forte shits the bed again. Cutler feuds with Lovie
Smith. Hanson kicks a game-winner. Soldier Field mourns.
Detroit Lions 23, Chicago Bears 21