Things are a changing in the NFL when you see the Lions in the MNF slot. For the first time since 2000, the Detroit Lions are playing on a Monday. Lions’ fans have suffered through years of losing, and are ready to show the nation that they are for real. The Chicago Bears come into Detroit with intentions of spoiling the party.
The Lions are 4-0 for the first time since 1980, and if they beat the Bears they will be 5-0 for the first time since the Bobby Layne Lions of 1956. Eerily enough, Layne and Matthew Stafford went to the same high school. Once dubbed the biggest joke in the NFL, they are turning into one of the most feared teams. Most notably, the offense has the weapons to give defensive coordinators nightmares. The Lions under Matthew Stafford brings a potent attack to the field. Stafford has battled injuries his first two seasons, but we are beginning to see that this isn’t another Joey Harrington. He looks poised and comfortable in the pocket at, with a rocket accurate arm. His number one target, Calvin Johnson, is making people take note of him as well. Featured on this week’s Sports Illustrated, Johnson single handedly won the game for the Lions. After trailing 27-3 early in the 3rd quarter, the Lions staged another miraculous comeback on the back of Megatron. Johnson snagged a ball while being triple covered to cut the lead to 30-24, and in the final minute he came down with a jump ball in the corner. The victory was in thanks to the performance of the defense in the second half as well, though. Two pick-6’s surrendered by Tony Romo gave the Lions a chance at the comeback. The victory made the Lions the first team in NFL history to come back from 20 point deficits in consecutive weeks.
The Lions through the air are one of the best in the league; however, the running game seriously lacks any kind of substance. Jahvid Best is a talented running back, but he has earned his pay cheque in the passing game this season. The passing game averages a little over 300 yards a game, but on the ground it is rather anemic with 74 yards a game, 29th in the NFL. It appears the Lions have tried to open games with a balanced attack, but have fallen behind early with this game plan. As a result, the Lions are forced to do what they do best: pass the football.
The Chicago Bears, one of the Lions divisional foes has gotten off to a so-so start. I don’t recall any quarterback in the league that gets cheered and jeered in the same game more than Jay Cutler. Bears fans have to recognize though, it isn’t all Cutler’s fault, their porous defense has to shoulder much of the blame. The Bears surrender just over 300 yards a game (29th) through the air, and 124 yards on the ground (23rd). The once daunted Bears defense of old is slipping away undoubtedly. The offense has been adequate, but without their intimidating defense they aren’t a good team at all. The Bears beat the Panthers last week, but it wasn’t easy. They relied on a Devin Hester punt return, and feasted on a weak Panthers defense, but still almost lost.
Bears vs. Lions Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Chicago Bears +5
@Detroit Lions -5
Over 47.5 (-110)
Under 47.5 (-110)
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Bears vs. Lions Pick:
Ford Field was absolutely rocking for the Lions week 3 preseason game against the Patriots. Against a division rival in the Bears on MNF, it should feel like the old days at the Pontiac Silverdome. I recall when Barry Sanders broke the rushing record; the Lions were nearly flagged due to the crowd being too loud. That was probably one of the last games were the Lions were recognized nationally. This time around, though, Lions fans aren’t getting worked up over just one player. There are playmakers on the offensive side of the ball and defense. With the home crowd fuelling the Lions, the defensive line should get to Jay Cutler often. Ndamukong Suh and company should have fun against a patchwork offensive line. Starting right tackle Gabe Carimi will have to miss another game with a knee injury. Backups Lance Louis and Chris Spender are also nursing injuries. Also, remember that this isn’t the same Bears defense many of us are accustomed to. The Bears secondary is going to find it difficult to contain Calvin Johnson.
The Lions are looking to send a message to the rest of the NFL that they’re for real, and they should just do just that in the spotlight.