Is There Room On That Bandwagon For One More: Bears-Lions Preview & More


It’s official, the Bears are not who we (I?) thought they were.  At 8-3, and fresh off a win over a very good Philadelphia team, the Bears have firmly established themselves as (a) one of NFL’s most surprising teams and (b) a contender in the NFC.  The biggest thing Chicago lacked was an impressive win despite the great record.  Sunday’s performance was a statement to the rest of the league and will prevent the Bears from sneaking up on anyone the rest of the way.  One has to think that if the Bears win two more games, they’ll be in the playoffs - win number one has to be this Sunday against Detroit.

The Lions almost beat Chicago in Week 1 but a silly fucking rule disallowed the game-winning touchdown with just over a minute to go.  I hear all you Bears haters now: “The Lions beat you”.  Well, no, they didn’t.  The rule is shitty but it’s a rule and the right call was made, according to a lot of people who know way more about this stuff than I do.  Detroit’s season since that game has been really interesting.  They’re good enough to play everyone but the top-5 teams close but they’re bad enough to lose every game.  This is a rebuilding team, as it has been for the last 15 years, but this is the first time you can honestly say there is a plan in place and it looks to be working.  Here’s my take on Sunday’s matchup:

…And 10

  1. Rams rookie quarterback Sam Bradford was the #1 pick in the draft and looks like a franchise quarterback.  Good for him and the lame people of St. Louis.  You can’t win without a franchise quarterback so it’s hard to argue someone else should have taken ahead of him.  But Ndamukong Suh is one of the rare players who you can make a strong case in favor of.  Suh is a fucking beast, plain and simple.  He’s as dominating as any interior defensive lineman in the NFL right now and he won’t be 24 until the end of the season.  This guy will be terrorizing quarterbacks for the next decade and is a once-in-a-decade type player.  Plus, his nickname, Chaos N. Suh, is the tits.
  2. Looking for another beast on the Lions?  #81 Calvin Johnson is your man.  Megatron has 11 touchdowns this year and that number literally could be 18.  He has been unstoppable no matter who the quarterback is and that’s the real sign of an elite talent.  Johnson has had his fair share of success against the Bears so he should expect a lot of Charles Tillman and a lot of double teams.  The Bears have to make someone else (Nate Burleson, Brandon Pettigrew) beat them.
  3. That means guys like DJ Moore, Tim Jennings and Daniel Manning have to be on point for the Bears.  The Lions are not going to be able to run the ball on Chicago’s defense, few teams can, so they will take to the air to try to pull off the upset.  The Bears secondary will be tested because Detroit has a number of play-makers on the outside besides Megatron.  With a third-string quarterback likely to start, it will be interesting to see how aggressive Detroit decides to be.
  4. The problem with that is it means Detroit will have to be able to pass protect in obvious passing situations against a very good pass rush.  I can’t believe I just wrote that: the Bears have a good pass rush.  It seems like we’ve been waiting for that aspect of Lovie’s defense to return since the Super Bowl and all it took was the injection of some fresh blood.  Julius Peppers is obvious - he has been better than advertised in year one in Chicago.  But the other guys (Matt Toeaina, Henry Melton, Anthony Adams, Israel Idonije) have been the real story.  They should feast on Sunday against the Lions suspect offensive line playing on an indoor turf field where speed is critical.
  5. The poor Lions (I have a soft spot for the Motor City Kitties) can’t catch a break.  They haven’t won a road since October 26, 2007.  They finally get what looks like a franchise quarterback (Matthew Stafford) and he can’t stay healthy.  They steal a shift Barry Sanders-type running back (Jahvid Best) in the draft and he’s been hurt on and off since Week 2.  Their backup quarterback (Shaun Hill) played well…and then got hurt, of course.  Now they’re on to their third quarterback (Drew Stanton) and are headed for another top-5 pick.  Like I said, the team is headed in a good direction but injuries have really slowed their progress.
  6. On the flip-side, you have the Bears.  I’ve been holding off on this for a while so as not to jinx the team (and now it will probably happen) but Chicago is absolutely the healthiest team in the NFL in 2010.  What team enters a Week 12 game without a single name listed on their injury report, as the Bears did last week?  Two things in the NFL balance the league more than anything else in my opinion: turnovers and injuries.  The Bears have been flawless at one and are getting better at the other.  That’s the main reason they are 8-3 right now.
  7. In the seven games before the bye week, Matt Forte had 90 carries for 352 yards.  Since then he has carried the ball 74 times for 332 yards in just four contests.  Those numbers represent a serious shift in philosophy and, more importantly, they show that it’s working.  The offensive line has started to open some holes but I credit the consistency and persistence of the play-calling.  Keep running and eventually lanes will open up.  Expect Forte to carry the ball 20-25 times on Sunday.
  8. Johnny Knox is quietly having a very good year.  He leads the team with 740 yards, twice as many as the next closest guy, and is averaging 18.5 yards per catch.  Knox has not been a major deep threat but he’s a terrific catch and run guy who is tough to cover.  Think DeSean Jackson-lite (OK, very lite).  Still, I like his chances for a big game on Sunday.
  9. This has to be Jay Cutler’s game.  He had his biggest win as a Bear last week and it was the kind of performance that makes you fall in love with Jay.  At the same time, it’s the same kind of performance that makes you questions where the real big stinkers come from - how can one guy be so good one week and so bad the next?  Well, it’s time for Jay to grow up, put on his big boy pants, and string a few solid performances together.  He has a great shot at reaching the playoffs for the first time in his career and, with games against the Patriots, Jets, Packers and Vikings remaining, this five game stretch is likely to shape the next few years of his career.
  10. And I like Jay to stand up to the challenge at least for this week to lead the Bears to a 31-17 win over the Lions on Sunday.

Other NFL Thoughts

  • The NFL does A LOT right and the plan to save a lot of divisional games for the final five weeks is right at the top of the list in my opinion.  There are nine divisional games this weekend and every single one has some sort of playoff implication.  The highlights are primetime must-see matchups (New England vs. the Jets, Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh).
  • I’m watching Thursday Night Football and wondering why I haven’t seen the Derek Anderson Coors Light commercial.  Wait, they haven’t made one yet?  That thing needed about five minutes of editing before it was ready for the airwaves.
  • I hate fantasy football and here’s why: anyone who has Michael Vick, Arian Foster, Dwayne Bowe or Brandon Lloyd is probably in the top-3 in your league.  And that fucking sucks.  Foster is the only guy who made any sense before the season (Bowe to a lesser extent).  Awesome.  I’m going to pay the fucking loser who picked up Brandon Lloyd $100.  Some friend he is.
  • Is it just me or does Atlanta win every game at home by 3 or less?  Matt Ryan is a big-time closer and absolutely unbeatable at home.  If Atlanta holds on to the top seed in the NFC, they might go to the Super Bowl.
  • How do Gary Kubiak, Mike Singletary and Josh McDaniels still have jobs?
  • I hope John Gruden decides against the Miami job.  He’s a great personality and is built for the NFL.  He’ll get a big-time offer in January if he holds out, which it looks like he’s going to.
  • Top 5 (in order): New England Patriots, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets
  • Next 5: Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints, Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles, San Diego Chargers
  • Intriguing: New York Giants, Indianapolis Colts, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Kansas City Chiefs, Jacksonville Jaguars
  • MVP-Tracker: Michael Vick, Tom Brady, Philip Rivers
  • LVP-Tracker: People throwing to Larry Fitzgerald, Cortland Finnegan, a 7-9 playoff team (see: East, NFC)

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One Response to “Is There Room On That Bandwagon For One More: Bears-Lions Preview & More”

  • I’m worried this is a classic trap game. The Bears should win this by 2 tds but should never actually happens

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