Tale Of The Tape: Detroit Lions At Chicago Bears
- QuarterbackMatthew Stafford has been an impressive quarterback because of his arm strength, size and solid numbers for quite a while. However, his end-game performance against the Dallas Cowboys in Week Eight did wonders for his confidence and he should be at his best against a Chicago defense that is a couple of notches below its former level.One interesting development prior to Chicago’s upset victory over Green Bay on Monday was the report that Jay Cutler would return from his groin injury and play in this game vs. the Lions. However, Josh McCown had a superb performance against the Packers, so the Bears may want to rethink the idea of rushing Cutler back into the lineup.
- OffenseThe focus is always on Calvin Johnson and he will undoubtedly play a key role in this game for the Lions. However, head coach Jim Schwartz doesn’t want the full burden on his powerful receiver and the Lions need another good game from Reggie Bush, who burned the Bears with 139 rushing yards and a touchdown in Week Four. Tight end Joseph Fauria (five TDs) is a red-zone threat.The Bears have to make sure Matt Forte gets his touches as a runner and a receiver. He is the Bears’ most complete player and thrives on early success. Brandon Marshall is often inspired by the competition and he will want to match Johnson. Tight end Martellus Bennett has the hands and quickness to cause trouble for the Lions secondary.
- DefenseThe Lions have struggled on defense this year even though the talent level is quite high. They rank 25th in yards allowed, but it would not be shocking to see some improvement in the second half of the season. Despite his reputation as a dirty player, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is an impact player this season. Middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch has a team-high 65 tackles.The Bears are still dangerous when they can force turnovers and turn them into big plays, but the basics of defense are slipping away from them. They get pushed around in the running game and the secondary struggles if Charles Tillman (knee) is not 100 percent and he is not. With linebacker Lance Briggs (shoulder), the Bears will have a hard time containing the Lions’ most talented players.
- Special TeamsThe Lions are ordinary on special teams and that’s not going to help them in a matchup with the Bears because Devin Hester is a solid returner once again. David Akers is not consistent at this point in his career. Sam Martin has a 42.5 yard net punting average.The Bears are one of the better coverage teams in the league and Hester is back in form. He has already returned one punt for a score and has busted a long kickoff return. Placekicker Robbie Gould almost never misses a FG attempt and the coaching staff has full confidence in him.
The Bears come home after a Monday night game in Green Bay and they cannot afford to let a home game against a divisional opponent slip through their grasp. This is the kind of game the Lions would have found a way to lose in the past, so it’s a big test for Stafford & Co. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor