MNF Chaser: Lions-Bears

With Detroit's playoff and divisional hopes on the line, value is on Lions

Originally Published: October 22, 2012
By Ben Fawkes | ESPN Insider
Jay CutlerPhil Sears/US PresswireThe Bears and Jay Cutler have looked like title contenders, but don't jump on their bandwagon yet.

Coming off an emotional comeback win against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Detroit Lions will try to climb back to .500 when they take on the Chicago Bears on "Monday Night Football."

The Bears' defense has been phenomenal this season, allowing a league-low 14.2 points per game. As Herm Edwards wrote this week for Insider, Chicago's defense not only is extremely disciplined and able to understand the Tampa 2 scheme but also is proficient at taking the ball away.

The Bears have a staggering five defensive touchdowns already this season.

However, that great defense has masked a Bears offense that has been slow to start games. Excluding the first half against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 1, Chicago has been outscored 26-23 in the first half by its opponents (who have a combined record of only 14-18). Even including the Colts game, Jay Cutler is just 46-of-87 passing in first halves this season (52.9 percent), with one touchdown and four interceptions. Against the Lions, Chicago will be without rookie wideout Alshon Jeffery, and Earl Bennett and Devin Hester are both questionable, so Cutler might lean on the ground game a bit more.

As Pro Football Focus noted in its "Monday Night Football" preview piece, the Detroit defense has been poor this season. The Lions haven't gotten pressure on opposing quarterbacks consistently, and their secondary has given up big play after big play. Not exactly a winning combination.

It will be interesting to see how the Bears play wide receiver Calvin Johnson, who has the size and speed to cause problems for Chicago's Tampa 2 scheme. If the Bears can make Matthew Stafford throw 63 times -- as he did last season in Chicago (4 INTs, 5.2 yards per pass in that game) -- it's going to be a long game for Detroit. If, however, the Lions can muster a ground game and someone, anyone beyond Johnson steps up on the perimeter, Detroit can make it a game.


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