With the bye behind the Lions, they head to Chicago to take on the Bears in a late game blockbuster (kaboom). This is the 2nd game of the season between these two and it will be a big decider on a wild card spot. As it stands, the Lions are 6-2 while the Bears are 5-3. The Lions currently hold the NFC’s 1st Wildcard spot and the Bears hold the 2nd Wildcard spot. While the Falcons are one game behind the Lions and tied with the Bears. This just shows how important going 7-2 would be for the Lions. They have next to no shot to overcome the Packers, unless they win out and the Packers only two losses are against the Lions. That would put both teams at 14-2 and tied atop the NFC North division. This scenario is next to impossible to occur, but most people would’ve laughed in your face if you predicted the Lions would be 6-2 by the end of week 9, so let’s not just call it impossible right now.
In their first meeting, the Lions took the victory 24-13 in front of a hyped up and very loud crowd at Ford Field on Monday Night Football back in week 5. This time, though, they’ll be on the receiving end of the crowd noise. And I expect a lot of it. Soldier Field definitely isn’t the loudest in the league, but they can definitely crank it up when they see fit and it’s needed. This game result may come down to the weather. We all know that Chicago is freezing when it cools down later in the year, and this is a big potential problem for the Lions, specifically Matthew Stafford. He admitted this week, that he’s never really played in a cold weathered game and was trying out gloves through the week in the practice. There’s four outcomes here. 1) He wears no gloves and plays very well. 2) He wears gloves and plays very well. 3) He wears no gloves and struggles throughout. 4) He wears gloves and struggles throughout. I’m desperately hoping it’s either #1 or #2, cause if Stafford has any type of big time struggles, the Lions are in big trouble. And it’s been evident through the year that a mediocre game won’t get the W for the Lions just yet.
Yet again, Jahvid Best will be out of this game with post-concussion symptoms. This’ll be the 3rd straight game that Best has missed and there’s a real possibility that he could end up being shut down for the year, even if it is unknown until week 16 or 17, just carrying a constant “Questionable” tag, and then being demoted to “Out” at some point in the week. The load will yet again be shared by Maurice Morris and Keiland Williams. Kevin Smith was signed earlier in the week; I’m assuming for passing downs. Despite Smith’s constant lackluster running game, he always excelled in the pass, much like Best. The Lions really need a RB who can catch and convert on 3rd downs and Kevin Smith might be that guy. Especially against a Bears team that held LeSean McCoy to just 71 rushing yards. Though they did let up 45 catching yards.
My main concerns about this game are related to the Defense. Not only do they have trouble stopping the run, but Cutler was able to make all types of miraculous throws against them in week 5, despite constantly running for his life. The Defensive Backs really need to clamp down on the receivers, otherwise it might be worse than week 5. Forte will be the Lions main focus, but I’m not sure that’s the best choice. Just cause a RB runs up and down the field all day, that doesn’t mean that they’ll be able to score enough points to single-handedly win it. You only need to stop a RB when it counts. On 4th down or the Goal-line. Otherwise, as long as they’re tackled without reaching the endzone on a long run, it’s not that bad. If the Lions put more focus on Forte than on the WR’s and Cutler, it could get ugly pretty quickly, because I don’t think they’re able to stop Forte, any way.
The key to a Lions victory, apart from a successful passing game is disrupting the Bears O-Line again. The Bears let up 0 sacks against the Eagles. That’s only the 2nd time that’s occurred while Cutler was playing for the Bears. Now, the Lions D-Line is definitely better than the Eagles D-Line, but confidence can do wonderful things. The Bears O-Line won’t be any more confident than after last week. A real accomplishment is what they created. If the Lions aren’t able to generate the rush enough to halter Cutler on passing downs, then they don’t have much of a shot to win the game.
Let’s be honest here. The Bears are a very good, underrated team, who are playing at home and coming off a big underdog win against the Eagles in Philadelphia. The Lions are also very good, but didn’t have a good lead-up. They’re coming off the bye, which immediately means they’re coming in on the back foot. You can say all you want about “preparation”, but without having hit some people in the mouth the previous week and likely getting a full week off in week 9, you can’t just go out there and play like you’ve had no break in the schedule.
I’m not confident in the Lions in this game, I just don’t think they’ll be prepared for what the Bears throw at them and they’re falter through most of the game, and lose it by 4.
Prediction: Chicago 24, Lions 20