The Bears and Lions are meeting this Sunday, just a month and three days since their first meeting back on Monday night. But a lot has changed since then. While the Bears looked down and out after that game, and quarterback Jay Cutler publicly called for changes to the offense to keep him clean, the Lions looked well on their way at 5-0 behind the Packers. But since that fateful night the tables have turned. Let's take a gander at what this Sunday's game means to both teams.
Lovie Smith has his team playing pretty well, as usual, with a little help of playing the underdog card. Smith's teams have a history of capitalizing on when they believe they are disrespected and counted out, no matter how true or untrue that may be. Fresh off a Monday night upset, this time the Bears get to take on the Lions on their home turf.
There is no denying that last month's game in a frenzied Ford Field played into the Lions' hands. The crowd noise and an offensive line reeling with injuries and still trying to gel played right into the Lions' front four plans, causing a lot of those false starts.
Since then, whether it was that game alone or just the more time that the line has had together, it certainly seems like that won't be a problem this weekend.
What's more, you know that even if the Bears are favored Lovie is going to build the team to get them hellbent on revenge after the embarrassing Monday night loss where the only true shining star was Cutler. I expect the Bears to just stick with the formula that has been working, establishing the line of scrimmage early; I imagine that Louis, Garza and crew will really want to come out mauling to make up for the embarrassment the Lions caused them.
I fully expect the Bears to use their 11th ranked rushing attack and go right after the Lions' 29th ranked rush defense (side note: how on Earth is that front-four ranked 29th?! Is all they can do rush the passer? Seems ridiculous).
The Bears passing offense is still ranked a very middling 19th and the Lions pass defense is a top five unit, coming in ranked 5th, but you have to think that is a bye-product of facing a guy like Tebow and also Cassel, Alex Smith and McNabb. Not to mention that their porous rush defense makes team lean on that side of their game to attack their defense.
In fact, Jay Cutler totaled the third most pass yards the Lions have given up this season in the first meeting. I expect the Bears to get Forte established early and use play action and those rollouts we've recently seen in order to thwart the Lions pass defense.
Don't get me wrong though, I expect a close game, the Lions are still tough but this Bears team seems a lot closer matched than when the Lions last saw us and that game was only an 11 point loss. The defense should do a better job of shutting down the big plays, but this game could turn into an offensive match, I don't know, just a hunch.
But in the end I see the Bears prevailing and really trying to put forth a dominant effort to avenge that disastrous showing a month ago.