Though the score makes it look tougher than it was, the Chicago Bears got a good win over the Carolina Panthers in Week 4 to keep themselves from dropping to 1-3 and into a big hole in the playoff race. Unfortunately for them, they still can't afford a slip-up. They travel to Ford Field to take on the 4-0 Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football, and if they lose their third game of the season against the Lions, they'll be some distance behind their Monday night opponents and the Green Bay Packers.
While the Lions are 4-0, they certainly haven't been convincing in their last two games. They needed 20-plus point comebacks to defeat both the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys, neither of whom can be considered an elite team at this point. The comebacks were impressive, but Detroit needs to start stronger. A team can't pull off huge comebacks week after week.
Chicago Bears blog Windy City Gridiron notes that, while both teams have outstanding front fours, there are holes behind them for both teams, which should lead to some big plays.
Also, both defenses rely on their front four to create pressure on the quarterback; the scheme's for both Lovie and the Mad Gunther (Cunningham, that is) call on minimal amounts of blitzing so far this year, surprising for Detroit since Cunningham is traditionally known as having a blitz-heavy D. How each team's average-or-worst O-Lines counteract the force of the front four will be a key matchup, but I'll be looking for how each defense executes their expectedly small number of blitz packages as well. And while I don't think anyone would compare the Bears and Lions linebackers as being equally talented, the overall back seven of each team has some issues with big pass plays and tackling, making a homerun-or-pass for a touchdown possible, even likely on Monday.
After a very promising start against the Falcons, the Bears passing attack has fallen off the map. They held their own against Green Bay, but so has every other opponent. The Bears are 26th in passer rating (77.8), 31st in sacks allowed (15), and 28th in completion percentage (54.2%). All of the problems that people predicted the Bears would have on offense are coming to fruition. Their pass protection is struggling without Olin Kreutz and with a rookie tackle. The Bears are also lacking a go-to receiver. Matt Forte is their leader in both receptions and receiving yards. Newly acquired First-Down Signaler Roy Williams has only amassed five receptions for 70 yards. This is a unit still struggling to find its identity outside of "check-down to Forte."
Game Date/Time: Monday, October 10; 8:30 P.M. ET
Location: Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
Announcers: Mike Tirico, Ron Jaworski, Jon Gruden
TV Distribution Map: The506.com
Bears: 105.9 FM, 780 AM
Lions: 97.1 FM, 1270 AM