Per special request by our very own Joe the Boss, this and all future iterations of PTMY regarding repeat opponents get a bit of an update. This one carries with it a bit of hostility - since on Monday Night Football, the Lions invited the Bears up north to Ford Field and moved to 5-0 behind a pair of big plays. Since that game, the Bears have only allowed three sacks in three games, including zero against Trent Cole and Jason Babin (and the rest of the Philly line) and appear to have solidified some of their safety issues with Chris Conte playing some pretty good football.
Follow me past the jump and let's revisit some old friends...
We looked at the matchup in detail back in Week 5, so in the efforts of time and not wanting to repeat myself as often as I already do, check it out.
So Far This Year: After coming out of the gates strong at 5-0, the time since has seen the Lions take a bit of a stumble, losing two of their last three games as well as starting running back Jahvid Best. They currently sit at 6-2 and are coming in fresh off their bye week and a 45-10 shellacking of the Denver Broncos.
What's At Stake: A win against Detroit ties the Bears and Lions at 6-3 in the division and sets up a bunch of interesting wild card scenarios, which Kev outlined earlier. A loss puts the Bears at 5-4 and in a full-on fistfight for the sixth and final playoff spot. Tiebreakers are worth nothing if there's no tie.
What's Changed?: Well, as stated, Jahvid Best has taken a couple knocks upside the head, which when combined with his concussion history, could leave him in doubt for the remainder of the season. The Lions signed their former draft pick Kevin Smith to provide some running back depth, as well as former Cowboys' guard Leonard Davis and former Bears' safety Chris Harris. As far as what's actually taken place on the field, the Lions haven't really been doing a whole lot differently offensively, although their production has decreased from their hot start (held to only 263 yards of offense and 16 points against Atlanta, for instance).
As far as the Bears, well, things have become a lot more interesting. The Lions are continuing to struggle against the run - since allowing 122 rushing yards against the Bears, they've surrendered 203 against the Niners, 129 against Atlanta and 195 against the Broncos. In fact, they've allowed over 120 yards rushing in six of their eight games. Meanwhile, the Bears have pounded out 177 and 164 rushing yards in their last two games behind a suddenly resurgent offensive line and improvised quarterback play which led Gruden or Jaworski (don't remember who) to say that Cutler likes playing when the action's a little more frenetic. Well, yeah - as we've known (and which is apparently just being figured out by certain analysts and coaches), an area where Cutler's very effective is when he can get out of the pocket and throw on the move.
Much like Philly, the Lions have a very good defensive line which made life difficult for Cutler, yet Cutler was able to have one of his better games of the season against Detroit last round. If the Bears can put up similar protection and continue to get Cutler out of the pocket, the Bears should easily surpass the 13 points put up last time.
As far as defensively, Kevin Smith may be a bit more of a physical presence than Best, but the Lions running attack shouldn't be much feared. Instead, it's tight end Brandon Pettigrew and some guy named Calvin Johnson that should be the focal points - the former, because the Bears ignore tight ends, and the latter, because he's Calvin Freaking Johnson, who had 9 touchdowns through 5 games but has cooled off in touchdowns with only two since. But the Bears defense has returned to form lately, so we shall see which wins out.