Bears @ Lions: Week 4

The Bears will travel to Ford Field on Sunday to take on the 2-1 Detroit Lions at 12:00pm. The Bears are coming off their most dominating win of the season whereby they demolished the Pittsburgh Steelers on a national stage. Yet the Bears remain a mere +3 in Vegas this Sunday.

The Bears played a complete game last week while the Lions squeaked by a porous 0-3 Redskins. Granted the Bears beat a similarly embattled team, but their victory was far more of a statement win. Overall the Bears are a better team than Detroit with a far superior defense and a comfortable Cutler. The offensive line cohesiveness is coming together with first-rounder Kyle Long remedying a lot of last year’s problems on the right side.

The Bears have been spreading the ball around the last couple weeks, particularly during that come-from-behind win against Minnesota.  There’s nothing in the forecast to suggest that Kromer and Trestman don’t trust Cutler to sling it when necessary. With the effectiveness of the offensive line and the ability to rotate the backfield with Bush and Forte, Cutler’s getting more time in the pocket whether it’s a straight drop or a play-action. The ability to target players other than Brandon Marshall 15 times a game makes those safeties have to respect the other weapons. Martellus Bennett has been fantastic for the Bears since coming over in Free Agency. Earl Bennett and Alshon Jeffery are starting to garner more attention and thus making for a good combo on the outside. If you take just those players into account and leave out Marshall completely then the Bears are a middle of the pack unit who can score points in a variety of different ways. Add Brandon Marshall and there’s no reason the Bears can’t have the type of dynamic offense possessed by some of the upper echelon offenses in the NFL. I’m not saying the Bears can be the ’07 Patriots or the ’10 Saints, but they can score.

The defense appears to be right where it left off last year. This brings me to the most important matchup of the game which is of course stopping the run to take away the over the top presence of Calvin Johnson Jr.  Johnson is the best receiver in football and after seeing how close the Bengals came to defeating Chicago in Week 1, any true fan must be horrified by this matchup on the outside. However, I’m not suggesting that the Bears’ number one concern needs to be Johnson;  it needs to be Reggie Bush and his multi-faceted use. The Bears must find a way to make Reggie Bush a non-factor tomorrow; unfortunately it’s not as easy as stack-the-box-and-stop-the-run with this particular running back. Reggie Bush is the modern day Marshall Faulk and he will be set up all over the formation. Luckily he’ll be tagged the entire game by a linebacker. The ability for Bush to be a gamebreaker is very much a factor in this game.

If the Bears can’t keep Reggie Bush quiet on Sunday then their problems intensify. The “Bush Conundrum” causes a lot of mismatch problems in open space. Underneath routes and check down can often be seen as pass runs. With Reggie Bush they’re legit concerns because of his top-end speed and agility. The former Heisman Trophy winner from USC will be the focal point of the defensive gameplan and everything else will surround him. The inability to stop Bush makes Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew, Ryan Broyles and Tony Scheffler extremely potent.

Offensively the Bears must continue to keep a clean pocket for Jay Culter. The Lions have an exceptionally good front four with Ansah, old friend Idonije, Suh and Fairley. Suh – despite his constant fines and temperamental behavior – is still a dominant player in both stuffing the run and disrupting the QB. It all starts with keeping him neutralized. If the Bears can continue to keep Cutler off the ground then they should come out of this game on the better half. If Suh has a Big 12 title game performance and Cutler looks like Colt Mccoy then I’ll be writing a much more contrasting review on Monday.

I do expect the Bears to not only cover the 3 points, but win the game outright and pay a money line of +120 while in addition moving to 4-0.