All signs this week point to a letdown for the Chicago Bears. They are 3-0, riding high, coming off an emotional prime time victory over a desperate team in hostile conditions. They are surging up meaningless Power Rankings. (They are fifth! They should be fourth! How can they be sixth?! Who gives a shit?) Vegas agrees. They are now underdogs for the first time this season.
So why do I like the Chicago Bears this week?
I always like the Chicago Bears.
BUT WHAT FOOTBALL REASONS, JEFF?
- I think the Bears will be making a strategic error if they come out Sunday and attempt to run the ball into the heart of the Lions defense. I think Coach Trest knows that and will come out firing to silence the crowd keep the defense off-balance.
- I keep hearing about the Lions having turned a corner...but are we sure? From PFT: "Detroit is 2-1, with two wins against 0-3 Minnesota and 0-3 Washington, and a loss to 1-2 Arizona. So the Lions haven’t shown they can beat a good team yet." Maybe they show it Sunday. Maybe they don't.
- I don't see much talent on Detroit's defense beyond the middle of their defensive line. Glover Quin? Chris Houston? Darius Slay? Sure, Delmas is a solid safety but he's not a game changer at the back of their defense. If the Bears can attack with their short passing game and soften the Lions rush they'll be able to get the ball down field.
- The emergence of offensive weapons has been one of the inspiring trends for the Bears. First it was Marshall and Martellus Bennett. Then Matt Forte. Last week Alshon, Earl and Michael Bush. It would seem the Bears enter the fourth week of the season with their full compliment of weapons at least somewhat implemented into the system and they'll need all of em.
- I made the argument early in the week that Nate Burleson's emergence as a legitimate number two was the key to the Lions aerial attack against the Redskins a week ago. If defenses don't respect the other side of the field they can slide coverage to Calvin Johnson. I'd expect the Bears to stay single high (at least) to CJ's side all afternoon.
- Julius Peppers tends to show up for these Detroit games and has a habit of ending Stafford's season.
- How many years did seeing Jason Hanson step onto the field mean a made field goal? Basically his entire career. David Akers, who looked done a year ago, has already missed 2/3 of his FGs from beyond the forty and I don't expect that trend to change.
- Only slightly more than half of Detroit's kickoffs have gone for touchbacks this season. Does that put Hester in play?
- I feel like Jim Schwartz is one of those coaches who'll botch the "don't kick it to Hester" thing.
DA BEAR CONCERNS
- Concern #1: If you're not concerned with Calvin Johnson, you are a silly goose. The Bears have faced two top shelf receivers thus far in 2013 and yielded 18 catches, 358 yards and 4 touchdowns to them. Calvin Johnson is better than both A.J. Green and Antonio Brown by a significant margin and if Bears safeties continue biting silly pump fakes Johnson will find the end zone multiple times.
- Concern #2: It is almost unbelievable the Bears are 31st in sacks allowed with Cutler only landing on his back three times. The Lions are 32nd, having surrendered two sacks in three games. The Bears lack of pass rush from the front four means they'll need to involve linebackers to ruffle Matthew Stafford. If they overcommit they will be diced up by Reggie Bush, Joique Bell, Tony Scheffler and even Fauria/Pettigrew in the passing game. (Bush should frighten the Bears far more in the passing game than in the run game.)
- Concern #3: It may not matter after the fourth game of the season but I think Detroit will be motivated by the knowledge a win Sunday puts them in first place heading into October. Their fans certainly will be. Detroit is the little brother with an inferiority complex and - when they're struggling - that complex plays out in personal fouls and dirty shots from Suh. Bears will need to weather an early emotional storm.
THE MATCH-UP OF REMARKABLE IMPORTANCE
- There is no reason to be creative in this category. When Ndamukong Suh is matched up with Kyle Long it will be one of the rare times in an NFL season when John Q. Fan's eyes are fixated on the right guard position. Long has come into the league with a reputation for toughness but toughness won't be enough to stop Suh from wrecking the run game and harassing the quarterback. He'll also need technique - technique he quite possibly doesn't possess yet. Bears fans should not expect Long to beat Suh Sunday. Suh is the far better player at their current career points. But if Long can fight to a draw, make the ringside judges think about it, the Bears have something special.
From a July 13th 1990 article in the Orlando Sentinel:
Bill Murray, comedian, on Detroit Tigers slugger Cecil Fielder, who leads the major leagues with 28 homers: ''He played last year in Japan . . . He's all crazed up on sushi.''
THE MOST INTERESTING PLAYER ON THE FIELD
Last week I selected Major Wright and he played a pivotal role - both positively and negatively - in the contest.
- When is the last time Jay Cutler was saddled with the "tough" label? All week the discussion around Cutler was not his casually reckless throws into traffic or smuggy sideline demeanor. The discussion was about whether or not his lowering a shoulder into Robert Golden for the most important first down of the team's third win was a display of toughness over intelligence. Now Tough Jay Cutler faces what I believe will be a real, old timey, OK Corral shootout. He put the game in the wicker basket and sent it up the river Sunday night in Pittsburgh. Can he go point-for-point in the Motor City?
THESE VIDEOS HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH FOOTBALL
Detroit knew how to do music.
So did Chicago:
A SINGLE STAT PREDICTION (1-2)
- Five different players will score a touchdown.
WRAPPING IT UP IN A FEW SENTENCES
- Bears have not shown an ability to stop opposing pass games and if they do Sunday it would have to be viewed as a surprise. Both quarterbacks have big games but - as always - it's a timely turnover created by the Bears secondary that is the difference. Stafford throws a late TD to tighten things up.
- Chicago Bears 38, Detroit Lions 35