Week 17 Preview: Bears (6-9) @ Lions (2-13)

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Tick tock, tick tock. No, it's not Captain Hook's alligator. But, Lovie Smith should be afraid of the hook... cause that's what might be coming after the Bears conclude another disappointing season in Detroit on Sunday. This marks the 3rd consecutive season that Lovie's Bears will miss the playoffs. That's not exactly a recipe for job security after a Super Bowl appearance. But, it could be worse... we could all be Lions fans. Actually, some could argue that we should be Lions fans on Sunday. The countdown to Black Monday begins at 12:00 CT on FOX.  

Week 16 Recap

The Lions mustered op two field goals in 20-6 loss to the 49ers in San Francisco. Drew Stanton... yes, I just typed Drew Stanton, led the Lions with 130 yards passing, and... wait for it.... three interceptions. Is there anything else worth mentioning here? No... not really. 

The Bears were in the holiday spirit. They gave us all a nice gift last Monday night, with a thrilling 36-30 victory in overtime over the Vikings. Jay Cutler was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week, for his 273 yard, 4 TD and 1 INT performance, and Devin Aromashodu led the team with 150 yards receiving and the game winning TD. Cutler continued the giving spirit, much as he has done all year with his NFL leading 26 interceptions, by giving his offensive lineman airplane tickets as a thank you. I'm not quite sure if that's a gift... or a hint that they all need to leave. 

Quick Numbers:

  • 150: Receiving yards for Devin Aromashodu last week. The highest total of any Bear all season, and just the second 100 yard receiving day the Bears have had in 2009 (Hester's 101 vs the Bengals in week 7).
  • 9: Former Bears that have been full time starters on new teams since leaving Chicago. Makes you wonder why the Bears didn't want to keep them, and have been trying to fix most of these positions since their departure? QB Kyle Orton (traded), RB Thomas Jones (traded), RB Cedric Benson (released), WR Justin Gage (released), S Chris Harris (traded), RT Marc Colombo* (released), LT Mike Gandy** (released), FB Lousaka Polite (released), and S Brandon McGowan (released).

    *Colombo made 57 straight starts at RT for Cowboys before undergoing ankle surgery in mid season.
    ** Gandy had made 76 straight starts in Buffalo and Arizona, since leaving the Bears, before being placed in IR after week 12 this year. He's been protecting future HOF QB Kurt Warner's blind side for the past 3 seasons.
  • 0: Games active for 3rd round pick WR Juaquin Iglesias... on a team with zero professional WRs. He'll suit up for the first time in his career on Sunday. 

Key Injuries:

CHI HC Lovie Smith (job) O
CHI DE Adewale Ogunleye (broken leg) O
CHI
DT Israel Idonije (foot) O
CHI CB Charles Tillman (ribs) O
CHI WR Johnny Knox (ankle) Did not participate
CHI S Al Afalava (knee) Did not participate
CHI S Danieal Manning (calf) Did not participate

DET QB Matthew Stafford (knee surgery) O
DET
S Louis Delmas (knee) Did not participate
DET LB Larry Foote (foot) Did not participate
DET DT Grady Jackson (knee) Did not participate

When the Bears and Lions have the ball.

As my readers know, normally I go into depth here and break down the key matchups for both offenses:
A. When they have the ball
B. The key match-up
C. The X factor

But being the season finale and all... I thought I'd shake it up a bit. And quite frankly, when either of these offenses have the ball... not much happens.

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Detroit

The Lions are trying to build a team around #1 overall pick QB Matthew Stafford, and so far Stafford showed glimpses of being worthy of that pick. However, he's taken a beating behind that line and has struggled to stay on the field since hurting his knee in the first match-up between these two teams (a 48-24 loss to the Bears at Soldier Field in week 4).

Stafford had already compiled 296 yards passing in that game, before getting injured on 3rd and 5 at the Bears 6 yard line early in the 4th quarter. Stafford had marched the Lions on a 14 play 65 yard drive, and settled for a FG to cut the lead to 34-24. But, with Stafford out for the remainder of the game, the Lions offense went numb. Stafford's knee gave him trouble the rest of the year, and he was finally put on the IR for surgery on Dec 24th, after some gutsy performances. 

With Stafford, Rodgers, and hopefully an improved Jay Cutler... the NFC North could boast some of the games best QBs in the near future.

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Chicago

Very much like the Lions, the Bears made a big investment in a young QB. Two first round picks, Kyle Orton, and a $30 mil extension for Jay Cutler. The only problem is... the Bears didn't get the memo that you're supposed to build a team around your QB. Poor personnel decisions and bad coaching have turned year 1 of the Cutler era into a comedy of errors. However, Cutler might get the last laugh, as his performance may ultimately get this coaching staff fired, and open the door for new decision makers who might do a much better job.  

The one thing that really stands out though, is the Bears inability to put Cutler in a situation where he historically has shredded defenses... outside of the pocket. Cutler's career passer rating outside the pocket is 114.3 compared to 79.3 in the pocket. When Cutler's out of the pocket and on the move, defenders have to make a decision: either commit to the ball or to the coverage. And Ron Turner took some of the blame for that this week , saying he should have called more movement plays.

"There were opportunities we could have done it more and probably should have," he said.

Bottom line, when your best playmaker is your QB, your job is to put him in a position to pose mismatches and make big plays. The job will likely belong to someone else next year.

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