Despite all the misfortunes that the Chicago Bears have endured over these past several weeks, the Bears still have an opportunity to make the playoffs. Though, today will be the last opportunity for the Bears. In order for the Bears to be a playoff team this time tomorrow morning, the team needs to win against the Detroit Lions and the Minnesota Vikings need to lose against the Green Bay Packers. There have been much speculation as to what is to come for the Bears if they do not make the playoffs. That speculation is circled around whether or not Bears’ head coach Lovie Smith will be a victim of what is dubbed as “Black Monday.” Many have insisted that the Bears will not fire Smith, but if the team fails to make the post-season for the second consecutive season especially if that scenario includes a Bears loss to the Lions, it may be hard pressed to find any reason that would justify Bears’ general manager Phil Emery from retaining Smith.
Last week against the Arizona Cardinals, the Bears were fortunate that the Cardinals did not have a competent quarterback. If the Cardinals had a competent quarterback, there is a great chance that the Bears’ playoffs chances would have been discarded last week. That is because the Bears’ offense was non-existent once again and it was the Bears’ defense that provided the scoring opportunities for the team. Lions’ quarterback Matthew Stafford is certainly a competent quarterback. Not to mention that Stafford has the perfect compliment in wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Johnson broke the record for most receiving yards in a season last week against the Atlanta Falcons. Johnson will now look to break any chance the Bears have at making the playoffs. The Bears’ limited Johnson to three catches in their previous game against the Lions this season, and Charles Tillman will need a repeat performance.
If the Bears are going to defeat the Lions, it will be because of the team’s offense. Meaning if Bears’ quarterback Jay Cutler is going to earn his stripes as the team’s leader, the quarterback will need to lead the team to a victory on Sunday. If Cutler is unable to do so, then the quarterback will be entering the final season of his contract and there still will be no answer to question of whether or not Cutler is the quarterback to lead the Bears. Fortunately for Cutler, the quarterback has always risen to the occasion against the Lions. I expect that trend to continue on Sunday as the Bears will match the Lions point-for-point offensively.
The difference in this game will be which defense is able to make the one stop that puts the team on top. The Bears’ defense is much better than the Lions and that will be the difference in today’s game. The prediction here is that the Bears defeat the Lions and then watch the Vikings lose to the Packers later in the afternoon. Meaning, when all is said and done, the Bears will be a playoff team.