It seems as if for the two cities of Chicago and Detroit — the Athens and Sparta of the NFC North — this entire football season thus far has led up to Sunday’s return bout between the Bears and the Lions.
Following the Bears’ impressive, Aaron Rodgers-neutralizing win on Monday, this coming game pits two teams together who not only hate each other but who are also tied atop the North division.
The season will pivot on this game — the loser, while still in the playoff hunt, will be demoralized and in search of answers as the second half of the season creeps on; the winner receives a big boost and the inside track to the division, which could also lead to a first-round playoff bye.
All this extrapolating of results only underscores the real spice that brings this game to life — the HATE! That which fuels the lifeblood of this rivalry, a blood that pumps late hits, insults from upper management and impromptu sing-alongs on online radio.
With all that in mind, Regal Radio wanted to put forth a spirited debate on the merits of each team entering this all-important game. In the spirit of Socrates and Plato, Lincoln and Douglas, Denzel and ol’ girl who started out on the second Cosby show, I present:
The Right Honorable Creighton Hart of Detroit:
I’ve been steadfast in my disdain for Chicago sports since my relocation to the Windy City in 2006. If you ever go to your local pub and hear the annoying guy on the bar stool rooting against Chicago teams more than likely it will be me.
On Sunday, that trend will continue.
The Detroit Lions and the Chicago Bears game this week is sure to be a dandy. The winner of this game can put further put themselves in position to win the NFC North division, which due to injuries, is anyone’s to have.
This match-up will be different than the Week 4 meeting, where despite the 40-32 score, the Lions dominated. This one will be more competitive.
Bears quarterback Jay Cutler appears ready to go for this one after being hobbled by a groin injury the past three weeks. How effective he will be is key, especially against a defensive front for Detroit that was able to get to him back in Week 4. If he can’t go, Josh McCown — who has been solid filling in for Cutler — has shown that he can handle himself in a high-profile situation.
Soldier Field has been a nightmare for the Lions as of late, the team hasn’t won a game there since 2007. It’s been even worse for Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, who not only has yet to win a game at Chicago but has suffered numerous injuries on that field (Lions fans have not forgotten what Julius Peppers did to him in 2010 or the four interception game and fight with DJ Moore in 2011).
This game is going to come down to who can stop the other team on defense. The Bears’ offense is much improved under first-year head coach Marc Trestman, but the defense has been uncharacteristically inept so far this season, especially against the pass, which just so happens to be Detroit’s strength.
The Lions defense has been good, but not great, lately especially in the secondary and with giving big plays. This will be especially important going up against the Bears physical receiving core headlined by Brandon Marshall and the emerging Alshon Jeffrey. Also, look for Matt Forte, who always seems to make big plays every time these two teams meet.
The Lions are coming off a bye (a gift and a curse because Lions teams in the past have come out flat after byes, like in 2011) and should be fresh and ready to go, realizing the importance of this game. Chicago is coming off a victory in Green Bay where its defense knocked Aaron Rodgers out of the game.
Prediction: Lions 30, Bears 24. Detroit gets its first win at Soldier Field since 2007 in a tough hard-fought divisional match-up. Detroit’s passing game and the presence of Reggie Bush will be too much for the Bears defense to handle.
The Esteemed Sir Kenneth Davis of Chicago:
Blah, blah… Lions week…blah, blah blah…
It’s not like it’s Packers week, you know, it’s just Burn-City. A couple days ago I may have written this half-heartedly since the Bears were obviously handicapped by operating with a backup QB (who performed well, may I add). But now we’ve found out that our starting QB Jay Cutler has miraculously recovered from his groin injury. Around my way we also know this as “I’m back for that cash” — Cutler’s potential huge contract extension at the end of the season is definitely on the line.
Back to the Burn-City Kitties. Coming off the bye week the Lions seem ready to pounce, but this is Detroit. The Lions had an impressive comeback victory against the Cowboys prior to the bye with Matthew Stafford balling out — that impromptu dive over the defensive lines prior to them getting set was slick. Still, I’m somewhat leery of Stafford’s ability to read defenses; at the beginning of the season he was able to spread the ball around to all of his weapons, but the loss of Nate Burleson to pizza has forced him back into a steady diet of Calvin, Calvin, and Calvin.
Don’t get me wrong, if you’re blessed with the best, you should lean on him, but with an arm cannon like Stafford has he should easily be able to feed Megatron, the two other available receivers, a tight-end and a running back. I think Stafford and Cutler will cancel each other out, even though I’ll give the edge to Jay this week since he is playing for what Stafford already has…big money!
The real reason the Bears were shellacked by the Lions earlier this season was Reggie Bush forgetting he is supposed to be a scat back and transforming temporarily to a dominating between-the-tackles runner. Man, he killed the Bears, a large portion of his performance was due to genetics, Bush just has it. Another portion was due to the Bears sorry defense.
We still lack talent at the defensive tackle position — Lance Briggs is out, making stopping the run seem even more far-fetched. Corey Wootton has been decent, deserving even more credit when you think about him playing in a contract year, and as a d-end you need sacks to validate your worth. Recent signee Jeremiah “Jay” Ratliff is weeks away from getting on the field and maybe anchoring the line. In this match-up, I give the clear advantage to the Lions’ run game. Peanut is healthy and I think he can keep Calvin Johnson to 1.5 big plays in their crucial match-up, the Bears should be happy with that.
Suh says he wants Jay and I feel bad for Jay. The last thing you want to be is a signal caller with a bum nether region being chased by a beast like Suh. You have to wonder if Jay should have waited till he had more time to heal, still the Bears should dog-walk these Kitties just off GP. Seriously, I see a high-scoring, close game coming with the Bears winning by between a field goal and a touchdown.
Follow Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1, Ken and The D and Davis Show @danddavisshow and Creighton @hartinthegame.