Chicago Bears: 6 Most Critical Match-Ups Against the Lions
The Chicago Bears will try to get into the playoffs with a victory over the Detroit Lions. The Bears will also need the Green Bay Packers to beat the Minnesota Vikings later on in the day to get into that sixth and final playoff seed. The Lions stand in the Bears way for that final playoff spot and the barbs from both teams have been exchange all week. The trash talk started with defensive tackle Henry Melton calling the Lions a “dirty” team and single out Dominic Raiola as the ring leader. Raiola responded back by calling Melton a “Clown” and questioned his Pro Bowl candidacy.
It didn’t stop there; Strong Safety Major Wright came out and threw some jabs at quarterback Matthew Stafford, stating that the Lions QB “Kinda folds under pressure”. Lion’s offensive coordinator Scott Linehan stood up for his QB “No. I think a guy that's thrown for nearly 10,000 yards and almost 60 touchdowns in two seasons holds up pretty good out there”.
The Bears and Packers have always been the best rivalry in the division, but the Bears and Lions is one of the more underrated rivalries in all of football. These two teams simply don’t like each other and Sunday has the makings to being a memorable one.
We take a look at six critical match-ups against the Lions in a must win game for the Bears.
James Brown vs. Ndamukong Suh
James Brown has been sort of a mix bag the past few weeks for the Bears. Against the Vikings, Brown was serviceable showing flashes of a potential starting offensive guard. Against the Packers, he showed why he went undrafted in the 2012 NFL draft. This Past Sunday against the Cardinals, Brown looked like a natural fit at left guard.
Brown could establish himself as the starter at LG going into next season with a great performance against one of the league’s best defensive tackles in Ndamukong Suh.
Brandon Marshall vs. Chris Houston
Brandon Marshall draws the match-up of Chris Houston, who struggle mightily against Roddy White last week. This is a match-up Jay Cutler has to take advantage of. Houston has struggle this season as the team’s number one corner and Marshall comes into town as arguably the second best receiver in the game.
If the Bears offensive line can give Cutler enough time, we could see Marshall set up Houston on combination routes up the field against a sketchy secondary.
Gabe Carimi vs. Cliff Avril
This match-up has an asterisk because we don’t know if offensive coordinator Mike Tice will go with Jonathan Scott who had full participation the past couple days or Gabe Carimi who had a great game last week against the Arizona Cardinals. I assume that Tice will go with the player with the higher ceiling in Carimi, mainly because you don’t want to kill his confidence.
Carimi needs to duplicate his performance from last week this Sunday against Cliff Avril, who leads the team in sacks with nine ½.
Charles Tillman vs. Calvin Johnson
How fitting that what stands in Calvin Johnson way of reaching 2,000 yards is Charles Tillman, who has given Johnson fits throughout his career. Johnson is going to reach 2,000 yards more than likely, he’s too good not to. What Tillman and the rest of the secondary have to do is keep Johnson out of the end zone. There will be chances for the secondary to make plays on the ball as Matthew Stafford will be forcing the ball to Johnson all afternoon.
Stephen Paea vs. Rob Sims
A lot of the talk between Henry Melton and Dominic Raiola, but Melton is likely to get double teamed which leaves Paea one-on-one against left guard Rob Sims. Paea has been a steady force against the run, but the Bears will need him to be more of a pass rusher this Sunday. The Lions will be out to break records through the air, so you can expect Matthew Stafford to drop back close to 50 times this Sunday.
Julius Peppers vs. Jeff Backus
If the Bears are going to win this football game and get into the playoffs, it needs big contributions from their star players. Julius Peppers is in that category as he is one of the many star players on the team that will need to take it to another level.
Backus is not the player he once used to be, and this is a match-up that can be exploited by Peppers all afternoon.