Despite playing every year on Thanksgiving Day, apparently, tonight’s game with the Chicago Bears is the biggest thing to hit Detroit since Thomas Jane’s member on the HBO series Hung (Jane by the way was AWESOME in the movie 61* playing Mickey Mantle about the relationship between Roger Marris and Mantle. A must see baseball movie). I’ve decided that this is too big to miss, so I am gassing up the ole’ sedan and driving to Detroit with my lovely bride. After around six hours in the car, we will be at beautiful Ford Field for this epic battle.
Motown is fired up and feels that their beloved Lions are ready to take that next step as an elite team in the NFL. For those that do not regularly read my work, I have been on the Lions bandwagon a LONG time. This is a good young football team featuring two of the leagues top players in wide receiver Calvin Johnson and defensive tackle Ndomukong Suh. Both are in the team photo for MVP awards and worthy of the hype. There’s no doubt that these two are the identity of this franchise. Quarterback Matthew Stafford isn’t exactly chopped liver either. When he’s healthy, he proves to be one of the best young quarterbacks in football. Staying on the field has been a challenge for Stafford, but he’s been the man this season.
Let’s take a step back from the Lions euphoria sweeping the cover of Sports Illustrated this week. The Lions are a solid football team, but by no means perfect. While they’ve been spectacular, this team has had its moments of being human. They set an NFL record for overcoming two 20-point deficits in the second half in consecutive weeks with wins over the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys on the road. This is quite impressive but it isn’t something this team wants to get into a habit of doing on a regular basis. Not to get my second-city mentality going here, but if this would have been the Chicago Bears, the word lucky would have been used by the national media. Instead, we hear that these Lions are resilient.
The Chicago Bears haven’t been as good. After beating up on Peter King from SI’s NFC Super Bowl representative (think he wants that pick back), the Bears lost two-consecutive games the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints. In most people’s estimations, these are the two-best teams in the NFC. While a loss is a loss, the Bears just haven’t really found their identify quite yet. These losses showed some weaknesses on this team and certainly makes many of us question why General Manager Jerry Angelo couldn’t add more pieces to the defending NFC North Champion’s roster. While the Bears will tell you they’ll be fine, I would like a little more proof. I should mention that last week’s win over the Carolina Panthers was made a little-more impressive after watching Cam Newton and the Cats almost beat the Saints yesterday. Even still, the Bears need to get some things figured out an quickly. Or this season will be about Angelo screwing up another draft.
This game is the Chicago Bears biggest regular-season game in a LONG TIME. Frankly, the hype should really be on the Chicago Bears. The Lions are 4-0 and would like to keep pace with the Green Bay Packers at 5-0, but as it stands today, the Packers are the better football team. The Bears if they have any hope of making the playoffs and keeping their slim division hopes alive absolutely positively have to win this football game tonight. Starting the season 2-3 would be devastating to the Bears. While the Lions want to show the nation they are for real, the Chicago Bears want to survive. I think there’s pressure on both of these teams, but I would think if the Lions do lose tonight they have plenty of good things still going in their favor. If the Chicago Bears lose, they’ll still be one game ahead of the Eagles (I had to throw that in) and looking down the barrel of a not-so-friendly record.
In order for the Chicago Bears to win this football game, they’ve got to do three things…
- Run the Football
- Attack Stafford
- Dominate on Special Teams
I’m running the ball at Suh all night. Despite being considered the greatest defensive player since pro football went to plastic helmets, he has 12 tackles. I want him to earn it tonight. Make him taste double-teams and fullback Tyler Clutts (who threw some impressive blocks last week against Carolina). To quote Rick Flair, to be the man, you have to beat the man. Tonight, the Bears have to beat the man.
Stafford is a target tonight. He needs to feel the turf below his rear-end. He needs to be hit early and often. The Lions have way too good of a passing attack and the Bears safeties suck. While getting Chris Harris back will help this group, it is still pretty pathetic. In order to help the secondary, Stafford needs to feel pressured. If he’s allowed to sit back and feel comfortable, it will be a long night.
Finally, the Chicago Bears have a HUGE edge on Special Teams. This game needs to come down to it. Corey Graham continues to dominate on kick coverage and Devin Hester is still Devin Hester. Johnny Knox also adds a lot to the return game. Make this game about field position with punter Adam Podlesh pinning the Lions deep.
I’ve decided that I am out of the score prediction business this week. But I will be Tweeting from the road. Follow me on Twitter at ChicagoBearJew.