The Chicago Bears (2-2) visit the Detroit Lions (4-0) Monday night (7:30ct on ESPN). It’s only week 5 but it feels like a ‘must win’ game since the Bears are looking up at two 4-0 teams (Lions and Packers).
If the Bears want to contend for a wild card spot in the playoffs, the special teams will have to produce like it did against the Panthers. Despite the rule changes which make touch backs on kickoffs much more prevalent, Devin Hester’s returns last week put the offense in position to put up points. The Lions special team’s unit rank poorly this season giving Dave Toub’s group another opportunity for big production in week 5. Lions special team’s rank 1st in kick return yards allowed (401 yards) and 11th in punt return yards allowed (107 yards). Hester, Knox and the rest of the special teams unit should contribute more than their fair share in Detroit.
The quarterbacks who opposed the Bears thus far are currently ranked in the top half of the league: Matt Ryan (15th), Drew Brees (5th), Aaron Rodgers (1st) and Cam Newton (16th). Lions quarterback, Matthew Stafford (7th), enters the Monday Night match up as an elite passer who is surrounded by the talent to put the Lions up big early. With the Bears secondary continuing to struggle, Stafford will put up yards and points at home. The defense will have to force turn overs to keep the game close.
Matt Forte’s rushing outburst (205 yards on 25 attempts) against the Panthers (week 4) proves Mike Martz won’t ignore the obvious any longer. The team doesn’t yet have the talent to run the offense he really wants and he must adjust accordingly. Marion Barber only had 5 attempts in his regular season debut but averaged 3.4 yards per rush and proved to be the goal line runner the Bears need. If Forte and Barber have rushing success early, Martz won’t get pass happy and the Bears should remain competitive through four quarters. But the offensive coordinator hasn’t proven to be very patient in his time in Chicago. If the Lions talented defense stops the run early, Cutler should be prepared to give his arm (and legs) a workout on Monday night.