Coming off their much-needed victory over the Green Bay Packers, the Chicago Bears (5-3) host the Detroit Lions (5-3) at Soldier Field Sunday at noon in another pivotal division matchup.
Quarterback Jay Cutler has been cleared to play and will start, which should be a welcome sight for Bears fans. With the move, backup Josh McCown will go back to the bench. In relief of Cutler, McCown played great, going 36-of-41 for 476 yards and three touchdowns along with no interceptions over the time period. The team will need Cutler if they want to avoid getting swept by the Lions for the first time since 2007.
Chicago Bears face challenge stopping potent Lions offense
The Bears had the benefit of facing Packers backup quarterback Seneca Wallace for the majority of last week’s 27-20 victory. The defense still had problems, but they were able to get to Wallace much easier and stop drives. The Lions will be a different story. Quarterback Matthew Stafford has been stellar so far this season, throwing for more than 2,000 yards on 211-of 338 passing. Reggie Bush has been able to run free and he has racked up 518 yards with two touchdowns on 119 carries, and 139 of those yards came against the Bears.
Calvin Johnson has been… well, we all have seen what he is capable of doing on any given week. On just 47 receptions, Megatron has accumulated 821 yards with seven touchdowns. A fully healthy Charles Tillman will surely help with the issues the Bears have had with containing receivers, but Johnson is different than most receivers so it will be interesting to see how much a healthy Tillman will factor in to his performance on the field.
Linebacker Lance Briggs will miss Sunday due to his chest injury, and his presence in the middle of the field will be missed. Rookies Khaseem Greene and Jonathan Bostic will make their second career starts at the linebacker position, and hopefully they have learned from their mistakes in last week’s game and turn in a much cleaner looking performance this time around. Having the home crowd behind you is always a confidence booster, so there is always the possibility that they need an extra boost since they have not had a lot of experience at this level.
Whenever these teams meet, points are always at a premium. The injuries the Bears have sustained on defense suggests more of the same, as they will have to match the Lions on close to every drive to keep up with the play-making ability of that offense. Especially since this game is very important for both teams regarding their respective places in the NFC and the playoff race, expect possessions to be treated like gold.
The Bears shocked the NFL world last week when they beat the Packers when everybody counted them out. The right things needed to happen for them to pull it off, of course, and the chips fell in their favor. As the playoffs get closer, unexpected victories or head-scratching decisions are magnified in terms of their importance under the bright lights of a NFL stadium.
Whatever happens Sunday, expect the unexpected.