Saturday, October 3, 2009

Lions and Bears and ... well, that's it. Just Lions and Bears.

These ain't your brother's Lions, even if your brother is just one year older than you. As the Trib points out, Detroit has 31 new players on their 53-man roster. As evidenced by the fact that they actually won a freakin' game last week, this team is not simply a 2009 version of the 2008 patsies that became the first team in NFL history to go winless in a 16-game season. Not to mention that the Bears only beat Detroit by four at Soldier Field last year.

I'm not saying the Bears are going to lose. In fact, this is clearly a game they need to win. But, rookie Matthew Stafford has been decent, the Lions are 19th in the league in rushing, and the team has more confidence than they've had in a long, long time. I refer you to the St. Louis Rams, who have won just two games in their last 23 attempts: those two victories came back-to-back in the middle of last season.

So if nothing else, it's a game the Bears must take seriously. And while I'll reiterate that I think they're going to win, I was happy to watch the Lions beat the Redskins so that there's absolutely NO chance the Bears can become The Team That Lost to the Lions.

Keys to the Game

Focus. Yeah, I know, I just said that, but I can't help that it's one of the keys to the game. Just for good measure, I'll add in another reason the Bears might lack focus: they're heading into their bye week. Some of the players might have tickets booked to Hawai'i and Florida and whatnot, and they're playing the Liiioooons (said sarcastically with a roll of the eyes). There are only 16 games in the season, boys, so drop the hammer from the opening kickoff!

Pressure. Stafford has already thrown five interceptions, and the Bears' nine sacks are just one fewer than the 10 put up by the three teams tied for the league lead. Lovie Smith has done a great job so far using blitzes and bringing the heat. It looks like Hunter Hillenmeyer and Pisa Tinoisamoa will be out for this game, so hopefully Nick Roach, Jamar Williams and whomever else the Bears put in at LB can bust through that line and put Stafford on the ground.

Running game. The 'Skins were only able to rush for 65 yards against the Lions last week. I'm willing to acknowledge that the Bears don't have to be perfectly balanced, and that they shouldn't waste time trying to get the running game going if Cutler and the receivers are connecting and putting up points. But I still think the Bears' offense could go from good to great if they could get the wheels turning on the ground game and have a balanced attack. Which, by the way, doesn't seem so out of the question given Forte's success as a rookie.

Penalties. This one's more for the Lions. Watching the Lions/Redskins game was like watching the Washington Generals play the Washington Generals--they both appeared to be designed by God with an intrinsic desire to lose. Penalties. Punts. Poor play all around. The Lions have the second-most penalty yards in the NFL, and that's a trend I'd like to see continue this Sunday.

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