Detroit Lions Week 4 Preview: Bears at Lions
Who doesn’t love it? Even bad pizza is still pizza. Frozen pizza, Little Caesar’s “Hot-n-Ready”, etc. You’ll still eat it. Off the top of my head, sex and football are the only other things that when offered to me in a low-grade version will still get me to shrug my shoulders and say “Yeah, ok”.
The Detroit-area is amazingly home to 4 of the country’s largest pizza franchises (Little Caesar’s, Domino’s, Hungry Howie’s, and Jet’s). We know pizza.
However, this week (following the Nate Burleson incident), maybe as Lions fans we can collectively say “Fuck Pizza”.
Especially Chicago-style deep dish.
On to the match-up…
Lions Offense vs. Bears Defense
Lions Passing Offense
Thanks to pizza, Ryan Broyles is going to get his opportunity to take Burleson’s job. Broyles has been saying for over a month now that he is ready to go. From what we saw last year (in the few games he was available between ACL injuries), the guy should do just fine. He seems to be one of these receivers who has an extraordinary ability to find holes in a zone. Between the Bears keying on Calvin Johnson and a healthy Reggie Bush, he may see a lot of targets.
Speaking of Reggie Bush, are we going to see MORE of him in the passing game? With Burleson out, little trust in the team’s TE position to catch the ball (outside of an undrafted rookie), and the emergence of Joique Bell as someone you would like to have on the field as much as possible, could we see more of Reggie in the slot? Scott Linehan has some flexibility to play with, and keeping this Bears defense off-balance may be exactly what the Lions need to do to keep Chicago from taking the risks that they find so rewarding.
I should mention Matthew Stafford and Johnson before moving on. Last week versus the Skins, on the first play of the second quarter, the Lions were on the Redskins 5-yard line. Stafford was being pressured and tried lofting the ball over the defender, across his body to his left, to Bell in the flat, but the pressure forced a throw over Bell, out of his reach. The correct throw was a BEHIND-THE-BACK PASS. Not really “correct”. In basketball, yes. But if there was a QB in the league with the right combination of skills, balls, and poor decision-making to pull it off, it’s Stafford.
This week though, no behind-the-back passes, please. The Bears may be the last team you want to pull some shit like that. And that goes for off-the-back-foot, sidearm, etc, as well. He should just get it to Johnson as often as possible.
And lastly; Riley Reiff. Good luck. He’s played well and he’ll get another test with Julius Peppers.
Bears Pass Defense
Is the Bears defense overrated? Underrated? They’re allowing passers to throw for 294 yards per game, a 65% completion rate, and 8.8 yards per passing attempt. These are not the statistics of a premier defense. Five sacks through 3 games is not particularly frightening either.
However, they do have 5 INTs. The Bears have forced 55 turnovers through their last 19 games. They take risks. If the Lions show discipline, they may not have too much trouble putting points on the board.
Lions Rushing Offense
Special shoutout this week to Larry Warford. He is getting a ton of love from the media when they talk about “impact rookies”. The offensive line is making some holes for runners and he’s the newest guy, so I’m going to throw credit his way.
Reggie Bush is back, and although you, myself, and your mom love Joique Bell, we’d rather have the ball in Bush’s hands. He’s got another gear and can make the big play. Bush and anyone else running with the ball is going to want to keep both hands on it. The Bears will look to strip it.
Bears Rush Defense
The Bears are only allowing 3.5 yards a carry (about 89 yards a game), and only one rushing TD this season. Luckily, for the Lions, you don’t need to twist their arm to get them to start throwing the ball all over the yard. Bush and Bell may actually have some success running the ball if the Bears defense ends up on its heels when the ball is being moved through the air.
Advantage: Lions, by a skosh.
The Bears will need to get a couple turnovers to nullify what the Lions should be able to do offensively.
Bears Offense vs. Lions Defense
Bears Passing Offensive
Jay Cutler. Fuck that guy. Look at his face. He has a face on his head like he woke up in the morning, poured a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, and then went to the fridge and found out they were out of milk. And then, throughout the day, even when things are going his way, he’s got a look like he’s thinking “I fucking hope Kristin went to the store for milk. Fuck those Belvita breakfast biscuits”.
He’s also a very good quarterback having the best year of his career.
His QB rating through 3 games is 10 points higher than his career average. He’s completing 67% of his passes, about 6% higher than his career number. He’s throwing for less yards per attempt, and when you consider that he is completing more balls, that makes that number more significant.
He’s also not getting beat up. In the previous 2 seasons, the Bears allowed nears 3 sacks a game (93 in 32 games). This season; 3 sacks in 3 games.
It appears that this Marc Trestman offense is allowing quicker throws, and Cutler (who loved holding the ball and making ill-advised throws downfield) is buying-in and excelling with making his progressions. Cutler certainly has a major target in Brandon Marshall, but look out for Alshon Jeffery, the second-year guy out of South Carolina on the other side.
And you can’t forget about Matt Forte. He has 18 receptions through 3 games. The guy is easily the most under-appreciated running back in the league (just ask the Bears front office).
Lions Pass Defense
Real Quick: Is it too early to call Darius Slay a bust? Of course it is. But being a starter the first 2 weeks only to get pulled half way through, and then to not get one defensive snap in Week 3 is very discouraging.
As long as I’m handing out shoutouts for rookies, I’ve gotta give one up for Ziggy Ansah. He is officially a football player, and he may be a very good one. He chased RGKnee all over the field last week. And a hobbled Griffin is still more fleet of foot than Cutler. If Bears offensive line finds themselves preoccupied with Fairley and Suh on the inside (which would be a good decision on their side), Ansah has an opportunity to hit Cutler if he has trouble pulling the trigger.
That’s a big “if”. While the Lions don’t look awful statistically defending the pass (middle of the pack in completion percentage and yards per attempt), they dodged a couple bullets last week (a long pass play called back by penalty, the Aldrick Robinson “Calvin Johnson” TD), and they’ve faced a gimpy Griffin, Carson Palmer, and Christian Ponder. This week is a big test.
Besides the secondary eyeballing Marshall and company, Levy, Tulloch, and Palmer are going to want to pay extra attention to Forte coming out of the backfield.
Bears Rushing Offense
The Bears aren’t exactly killing it on the ground, but they do have Forte, who shows shiftiness, and Michael Bush, who’s a bruiser. They are certainly enough of a threat to keep the box at an adequate defensive capacity.
The Bear offense is actually fairly similar to the Lions. They will prefer to throw the ball to set up the run. They have an improved offensive line, but may find their hands full trying to open things up on the inside.
Lions Rush Defense
Why are their hands full? Because (as I’ve said before), Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh are SLAPPING FUCKERS AROUND. If you throw out the first carry of the season by an opposing rusher (A. Peterson for 78 yards), the Lions are formidable versus the run. Also, factor in that Rashard Mendenhall had a decent day on the ground opposite the Fairley-less Lions, and they look even better.
Kyle Long, Roberto Garza, Matt Slauson: They don’t want none.
Advantage: Bears, just slightly.
The Lions have no kick returner worth a shit. The Bears have Hester. The Lions have no kicker worth a shit. The Bears have Robbie Gould (who is very good). The saving grace is the Lions have a punter with a leg who should keep it away from Hester.
This is probably too close to call, but Ford Field will be rocking. Expect fireworks.
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