October 10, 2011
If not for the defending Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers being 5-0 to start the season, we would do nothing but talk about how a Detroit Lions franchise that has never been even remotely close to competitive is off to a 4-0 start. NFL handicappers predicted that the Lions would win between 7 and 8 games this season, but they are on a pace that will far exceed that number and all expectations that were put on them. Detroit has taken down a few above average teams in the early going, however Monday Night’s game against a hungry Bears squad will be their biggest test thus far.
The Chicago Bears are off to a lack luster start and will need to step on the gas if they are to compete in what looks to be the toughest division in the NFL. With Detroit and Green Bay undefeated, the Bears have put themselves in an uphill battle that will take everything they’ve got to make the playoffs. Jay Cutler still has yet to show the same passing prowess that he displayed in Denver back in 2008, but fortunately for him and the Bears offense they have one of the most versatile running backs in the game.
Matt Forte has been a force this year. He hasn’t be mentioned as much as he should be by NFL experts, but he has leads Chicago in both rushing and receiving, and is on his way to having the best year of his career. Forte has 324 yards rushing in 4 games (81 yards per game average), but it’s his 5.4 yards per carry that best exemplifies how much of an offensive threat he’s been for Chicago. There are just a handful of backs that have the ability to catch the ball with consistency, and Forte is one of them. He leads the team with 26 receptions and 310 yards receiving. The one glaring blemish on Forte’s resume this season is his lack of touchdowns Most of his inability to get into the end zone has to do with the Bears offensive line. Chicago’s line needs to give Cutler more protection and Forte bigger holes to run through. Monday’s game against a ferocious Lions defense led by Ndamukong Suh will be the ultimate challenge for the Bears offensive line. With the season essentially on the line, we will all find out if Chicago is capable of playing at a playoff caliber.
Looking at this season’s Lions offense it’s hard to believe that they weren’t expected to get to the playoffs based on pre-season football predictions. They have a quarterback in Mathew Stafford that has the pocket presence and arm strength to be a pro bowl selection for years to come, and a wide receiver that is so unstoppable that his nickname is Megatron. The only week point for this offense comes at the running back position where Javid Best is “best” at catching balls from out of the backfield. He is not a pounding back that can run with consistency between the tackles, but he does have breakaway speed and the quickness to elude defenders in open space. The lack of a rushing attack hasn’t affected this squad yet, but could be an issue when playing against teams that bring pressure to the quarterback. Chicago’s defense may be getting older, but they have a solid line and a line-backing group that is amongst the best in the NFL.
Tune in Monday night as the Bears look to get back into the race for the NFC North title against a red hot Lions team.