Bears offense vs. Lions defense
Matt Forte’s rushing totals have declined each week through the first four games of the season. Now, some people — like Hub Arkush, who is usually excessively hard on the Bears — will point to the fact that Forte’s declining totals — 123, 92, 89, 43 — are a cause for concern. I’m not that naïve. It’s by no coincidence that as Forte’s numbers have been declining each week, the Bears’ opponent’s run defense has been ranked higher each week. Indianapolis is ranked 31st against the run, Carolina 19th, Tampa Bay 12th, and Philadelphia 1st. I expect that direct correlation to continue against Detroit this week, and we should see a huge spike in Forte’s rushing yardage against the NFL’s worst run defense. The Lions are giving up a whopping 207.7 yards per game on the ground, a statistic so bad that I had to research it to make sure it wasn’t a typo on NFL.com. I expect the combo of Forte and Kevin Jones, who is facing his former team, to give the Bears all the offense they need. Should the Lions eventually stack the box, which I figure they will, Orton has proven he can make plays when called upon, as long as he gets protection from the offensive line and isn’t asked to make throws longer than 20 yards.
Bears defense vs. Lions offense
The Bears’ defense is 6th in the league against the run but is 28th against the pass, a statistic of concern heading into a battle with an offense that likes to throw the ball all over the field. To further complicate matters, Tommie Harris will not play and both Charles Tillman and Nathan Vasher are listed as questionable on the injury report. Tillman and Vasher sat out Wednesday and Thursday and had limited participation on Friday. It’s a scary thought having Corey Graham and Trumaine McBride starting at cornerbacks against the Lions’ 6-foot-5 Calvin Johnson and 6-foot-3 Roy Williams. At least it’s comforting to know that the safety position is stable, which couldn’t be said last year when the Bears headed to Ford Field with an entirely different secondary than the one they started with in Week 1 at San Diego. All is not well for Jon Kitna and the offense, though. The Lions’ quarterback has not been getting along with the coaching staff and is third in the league with 5 interceptions. When balancing that with the Bears’ injuries, the Bears get the edge.
There’s not much to say that’s any different from any other week. Robbie Gould has been solid on field goals and his kickoffs have been deeper than last year. Brad Maynard is second in the league in net yards and punts inside the 20 and first in the league in fair catches. And Devin Hester is still Superman, although he hasn’t returned a kick for a touchdown yet, and he’s still prone to doing something stupid. Somebody needs to tell him that when a punt hits the ground, just leave it be.
I know what you’re thinking: an emotional Sunday night win against a physical and heavily-favored Eagles team has left the Bears wounded as they head into a matchup with an 0-3 division rival. Trap game, right? I just don’t see that happening. This is a Bears team that, while possibly missing Harris, Tillman, and Vasher, is a better football team than the one that was swept by the Lions last year. I don’t suspect the Bears will let down their guard for one minute or forget about what the Lions did to them in 2007. I also don’t think that anybody on the roster is looking past this game to the Falcons, nor will anybody take the Lions lightly. In football, you’re taught to treat every game as the most important of your career and I think we’ll see that sentiment in the level of effort the Bears put forth on Sunday.
Final Score: Chicago 27, Detroit 20