Finally the regular season is here and I am kicking off my regular season Key Match-Up post with what most fans probably expected: Bears Offensive Line vs. Lions Defensive Line. Evaluating the preseason, these two units have traveled two different paths. The Bears offensive line has been less than spectacular this preseason while the Lions defensive line has been much improved, led by veteran Kyle Vanden Bosch and hot shot rookie Ndamukong Suh. For the Bears to win this game they have to control the line of scrimmage on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. The Bears will need to lean on their rushing attack and defensive pressure in order to win this game. The passing game will need a couple more weeks to gel, and a pretty good rushing attack will allow that. The Offensive Line will be counted on to provide a good rushing attack which should open up big plays against an inferior secondary.
Can Mike Tice and his group of lineman put together a complete performance, and allow the offense to have a balance attack against an expectedly improved Lions defense? You can expect a good opening day performance if the Bears Offensive line shows up. If not, expect a long day for this offense.
LT Chris Williams vs. RE Kyle Vanden Bosch
When I made my The Blind Side Fan Post a few months back, I predicted that Chris Williams will have a very good day against Vanden Bosch. Seeing Williams' performance this past preseason made me back off that prediction a little bit. The book on Williams is that it seems he struggles with undersize speed rushers (I.E. Kamerion Wimbley), but not against pass rushers whose main strength is power (.Calais Campbell and Joey Porter). That's reason for Bears fans to be hopeful that Williams has a good day against Vanden Bosch, but Vanden Bosch is a crafty vet and there's a good chance he could make Williams' day a long one. As far as the running game is concerned, Williams will need to take his game up a notch in that department as Kyle Vanden Bosch is solid against the run. If Williams can have success in that department it can go a long way.
This might be the key match-up on this line because of the guy lining up next to Williams: Suh. The Bears will need Garza to be able to take care of Williams one on one without that much help. This allows Kreutz to help out young guard Lance Louis against Suh if he needs it (I am guessing he will). Both Garza and Williams at times can get pushed around in the run game, but Garza has a good reputation as an effective run blocker especially when pulling. If Garza needs help in either the run or pass blocking department it can be a long day for this line.
Center Olin Kreutz
Kreutz will be counted on to be effective in picking up blitzes and getting to the second level to open up seams for both Forte and Taylor to run through, but his main priority is neutralizing the beast that is Suh. Unless Louis can handle him one on one, you can expect Kreutz to be busy helping Louis out.
RG Lance Louis vs. NT Ndamukong Suh
The 6'3 305 pound Louis will try to make a name for himself against maybe one of the best DTs to come out of the draft in quite sometime in Ndamukong Suh (6'4 307 pounds). You talk about a test right out of the gate for a young lineman entering his first season as a starter; Lance Louis' job on Suh will dictate whether the Bears have a good game on the ground or a bad one. Tice is hoping that Louis' athleticism and strength can handle Suh's athleticism and strength. If Louis can handle Suh one on one, it frees up Kreutz to take on any middle blitz. The more time Cutler has in the pocket the more vulnerable the Detroit back 7 gets.
This is probably the one match-up I feel fully confident about. Omiyale was maybe the 2nd best lineman after Olin Kreutz in the preseason. Omiyale has the skills for the position, especially in pass blocking. He has good agility to take away the inside while also taking away the outside speed rush. He also has good strength to where he can stone wall defensive ends or pancake them. This Sunday he will be going up against Cliff Avril who, while is a good pass rusher, can at the same time disappear in games. I expect Omiyale to win this battle against a one dimensional defensive end. This is a match-up that Bears fans can feel fully confident about.