The 3-0 Chicago Bears head to face the Detroit Lions on Sunday in the Motor City in a battle for NFC North early-season bragging rights. Chicago has been fairly impressive so far in the first three weeks, using a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter to win two of their matchups.
Against the Lions, they will see arguably their most potent offense they’ve seen all year. Detroit has added Reggie Bush — who is on pace to play Sunday — and their offense looks to be one of the more explosive units with him on the field. Bush gives the Lions a dynamic that they haven’t had in a long time — a back that can be incredibly active in the passing game.
Not only will the Bears have to look out for Bush, but of course they will have tabs on Calvin Johnson all game long. Last season, Johnson was relatively shut down by Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings as he put up only eight catches on a total of 25 targets and failed to get in the end zone.
The Bears are off to a solid start defending the run as they currently rank 8th in the NFL giving up 88.7 yards on the ground per game. Chicago ranks 24th, however, in pass defense at just over 294 yards per game. This is a bit misleading because the Bears are a team that will give its opponents some yards through the air, but they will always come away with turnovers.
It’s just what they do. You can’t do anything about it, no matter how hard you try. Chicago’s defense will create turnovers.
This will surely be a key on Sunday as Jay Cutler looks to stay on track with an offense currently putting up about 32 points per game. Running back Matt Forte has been the heart and soul of the offense, being heavily involved in both the run and pass. If Cutler and his offense can limit turnovers, the Bears will likely win that battle.
So, what aspect is going to win the game on Sunday? Do they focus more on Bush or Johnson?
In short, neither.
The key to this game as a whole will be the front four. Chicago, historically, has gotten pressure with a four-man rush in the last couple of years better than almost any other team. This enables them to drop seven into coverage on pass plays — a feast upon turnovers waiting to happen.
If the Bears can win the battle on the line, they will not only be able to force pressure on Matthew Stafford but also stuff up the run lanes. Chicago is deep on the line, although they recently lost Pro Bowl defensive tackle Henry Melton for the year due to an ACL tear. But, even so, the Bears are loaded with playmakers up front.
Winning the battle on the line will make it easier on the secondary when Stafford lets it fly. It will also allow for the linebackers to have a better chance at helping on the run stuffs.
It all starts up front for the Bears. Those guys have to come to play. If they do, the Lions will be in for a long day.