The Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions will go head-to-head for the 167th time ever on Sunday afternoon. The Bears lead the all-time series 96-65-5.
Since arriving in the windy city in 2009, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler is 7-1 against the Lions. His only loss came in Week Five of the 2011 season at Ford Field. Cutler still was able to post a 99.8 QB rating in that game despite falling 24-13.
The Lions (2-1) return back home after two consecutive games on the road losing to Arizona and beating Washington. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has looked steady tossing six touchdowns and only two interceptions. Wide receiver Calvin Johnson has picked up right where he left off in 2012 as he has three touchdown receptions, while averaging about 89 yards receiving per game.
Running backs Joique Bell and Reggie Bush have been a spectacular one-two punch combining for 234 yards rushing, 322 yards receiving and four touchdowns.
The Bears (3-0) have had plenty of impressive play this season. They certainly have a chance to be elite on both sides of the ball. Running back Matt Forte has been a huge part of the offense totaling 363 yards and two touchdowns. He will be a big part of the game plan once again against the Lions this week.
Wide receiver Brandon Marshall is averaging nearly 90 yards receiving yards per game. Tight end Martellus Bennett has been a very solid addition to this Bears’ offense adding three receiving touchdowns.
Linebacker Lance Briggs and safety Major Wright lead the defense in tackles with 17 a piece. D.J. Williams added two sacks a week ago which makes him the leader in that category and Charles Tillman has two interceptions which is the team-lead.
The Bears’ offensive line has been leaned heavily upon by two rookies on the right side (Kyle Long, Jordan Mills) will have their hands full with Lions defensive linemen Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. The line has allowed just three sacks this season keeping Cutler pretty clean in the pocket. Defensive end Israel Idonije makes his first appearance ever against the Bears after spending the past nine seasons (2004-12) with them.
It should be a fun one to watch as this NFC North rivalry has been a bit feisty as of late. If the Bears’ defense can do their part by limiting big plays from Bush and Johnson and the Bears’ offense can continue to sustain drives, I don’t see why they can’t remain unbeaten.
Bears- Cornerback Charles Tillman (knee/groin) didn’t practice on Wednesday or Thursday. He practiced on a limited basis on Friday and is considered questionable for Sunday afternoon’s game. He will be out there in this one, but he won’t be shadowing Johnson. He will be on a snap count once again.
–Cornerback Sherrick McManis (quad) did not practice all week and is doubtful. Rookie C.J. Wilson will be asked to play more on special teams with McManis likely out. Cornerback Zack Bowman (knee) was limited on Wednesday, but practiced fully the past two days and will likely match up against Johnson.
Lions- Wide receiver Nate Burleson (forearm) didn’t practice all week and will likely be out roughly six weeks after suffering a broken arm in a single-car crash this week. His backup Patrick Edwards has been limited all week with an ankle injury and is considered doubtful.
–Rookie defensive Ziggy Ansah (abdomen), safety Don Carey (hamstring) and tackles Jason Fox (groin), Corey Hilliard (groin) were limited all week and are all listed as questionable. Fox was the only one to put a full practice together on Friday.
Players Who Must Step Up
Stephen Paea– The third-year Oregon State product will be leaned upon to pick up the slack with Henry Melton out for the season. He has 11 tackles and 0.5 sacks this season. He had a big Week One against the Bengals racking up seven tackles, but he has averaged just two tackles per game the past two weeks. He will need to clog up the running lanes that Bell and Bush will try to seek. This is a big test for the former second-round pick.
Martellus Bennett– The “Black Unicorn” has been a big asset for this Bears’ offense. He reeled in three touchdown receptions in the first two games of the season, but struggled against Pittsburgh last Sunday night (2 receptions, 10 yards). The Bears need him to be more involved in the offense specifically in the redzone where he has had the most success thus far. He should be able to find some holes in the middle of the field against this average Lions’ pass defense.
Zack Bowman– He hasn’t made a start for the Bears since 2011. Even though he won’t be starting in place of the banged-up Charles Tillman he will play extensively opposite Calvin Johnson. He matches up well with Johnson at 6’1″ compared to Tim Jennings who stands at just 5’8″ and has struggled with receivers A.J. Green and Antonio Brown this season. This is a big test for Bowman, who has basically been a special teams contributor the past two seasons. Safeties Chris Conte and Major Wright will be asked to help Bowman out plenty over the top.
Final Score Prediction
Bears 31, Lions 24
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