With quarterback Jay Cutler returning to the Chicago Bears on Sunday, the team is set to face the Detroit Lions with first place in the NFC North division on the line.
The Bears game against the Lions will be the team’s most important to game to date.
The reason why the Bears game against the Lions is important is because not only will this game decide first place in the division, but the Bears already lost to the Lions earlier this season. Meaning the Bears can not afford to lose both games against the Lions this season. If the Bears were to lose to the Lions, that would put the team in a position where it would be difficult to leapfrog them in the division.
The Bears arguably beat themselves the last time they played the Lions this season. The Lions scored 27 points in the second quarter of the game as the Bears defense had no answer for running back Reggie Bush. On offense, the Bears couldn’t muster any consistency until the fourth quarter. Cutler was responsible for four turnovers against the Lions and if the Bears hope to be victorious the second time around against Detroit, Cutler needs to play at the level that he has played for most of this season.
Meanwhile, the Lions have been one of the most impressive teams in the NFL this season. The difference between this year’s Lions team against Lions teams of the past has been their ability to close out games. The Lions no longer are blowing late leads in their games. Look no further than the Lions last game before their bye week against the Dallas Cowboys. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford led the team on a game-winning touchdown drive with less than 1 minute remaining in the game.
In the Bears game against the Lions, the key will be the Bears defensive line. Last time against the Bears this season, the Lions took advantage of the fact that the Bears were playing in a nickel formation on defense for most of the game. The nickel defense created gaping holes for Bush to run through. Defensive end Shea McClellin, after having a breakout game against the Green Bay Packers, is not expected to play after tweaking his hamstring in practice on Thursday. However, if Julius Peppers and Corey Wootton can build off their success from last week, that would limit what the Lions are able to do with Bush.
On offense, the Bears need to do what they have been doing all season. Bears head coach Marc Trestman has been impressive in his ability to out-smart the opposing defensive coordinator. That needs to continue against the Lions. With Cutler back in the fold, that opens the passing game up for more passes down field, which in turn, should open things up on the ground for running back Matt Forte.
Brandon Cain: The Chicago Bears win 30-24.
Brandon Bender: Cutler starts and the defense makes plays when needed to preserve the victory. Bears win, 33-27.
Dylan Burn: Bears bounce back from their loss earlier in the year to Detroit. They win the game by 10 behind Matt Forte.
Jordan Campbell: With few mistakes, Bears defeat the Lions 34-31.