Game Preview: Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Game Preview: Lions at Bears

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(Bari D / Flickr) (Bari D / Flickr)
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

FOX Chicago Sports' Dionne Miller and Tom Waddle preview Monday night's matchup between the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions.

Dionne Miller's Take

Bears don't like Lions. Lions don't like Bears. This isn't just football, it's nature. So for a big NFC North rivalry game between the two on Monday night, well, you need little more information to prompt you to tune in. But let's look closer at what this means for the Bears (4-1) as they come out of bye week hibernation.

The Lions (2-3) come to town having lost six of the last seven to their division rival, four straight at Soldier Field. Most recently last November during which Matthew Stafford and D.J. Moore sparked a sideline clearing incident further intensifying the rivalry.

And now they're on a Monday night stage which means many more cameras to capture any extracurricular activity as well as facial expressions of No. 6. The last two prime time games for the Bears have produced week long questions about Jay Cutler's attitude. Over it? Yeah, he is too but as Brandon Marshall explained this week, it sells.

But let's be real, his sideline demeanor will depend heavily on what happens on the field, against a tough Lions defensive front. The Bears offensive line can take a big step in confidence if they manage to keep Cutler relatively clean. Lately they have, and they've been able to open up holes for Matt Forte. But Brandon Marshall is what the Bears have for this meeting with Detroit that they haven't in the past. Look for them to use that weapon early as Marshall seeks a third straight 100 yard receiving game. We'd have to dig really deep to find out the last time that's happened for the Bears. I'll happily find out if he manages.

The advantage the Lions have in defending Marshall is that everyday their secondary practices against Calvin Johnson, aka, "Megatron." Stafford and Johnson are among the league's elite QB-WR duos. Perfect way for the Bears defense to pick up where they left off - tied for the league lead with 17 take aways, and first in scoring defense. But they cannot give up the big play. The Lions are the leagues second ranked scoring team and lead the NFC in yards per game. Clearly their big play ability is what makes them more dangerous than their last place standing indicates.

The Bears do come in armed with a Monday night trump card in Devin Hester. The best return man in the history of football has yet to break one for a touchdown this season. But he's done it five times on Monday nights. And his last one was against the Lions at Soldier Field. He was listed as probable after being limited with a quad injury in practice this week. I say that means he probably will score a TD - either on special teams or on offense. Remember, the Bears are without Alshon Jeffery (hand injury). So Hester and the return of Earl Bennett can fill that void nicely, especially considering their relationship with Cutler.

This is a big game on many levels for the Bears. It's a division game, but it's also an opportunity to solidify and early season hold on first place. As Lovie Smith put it Friday, "they know us, we know them. It's Monday Night. Doesn't get any better than this."

Prediction

Bears 31, Lions 17

Tom Waddle's Take

Offense

With the way the Bears defense is playing, Jay Cutler and friends aren't being asked to carry the heavy load. While they continue to find their way, they must stay committed to the running game. Here's hoping Matt Forte benefited from the extra rest and is nearing 100 percent. With Alshon Jeffrey on the shelf, Earl Bennett and Devin Hester are gonna have to pick up the slack and take pressure off of Brandon Marshall.

The Lions haven't found their stride yet either. Matthew Stafford has just four touchdown passes to go along with five interceptions. Calvin "Megatron" Johnson has three 100 yard games, but has yet find the end zone. They have an added dimension in the running game with former Illinois back, Mikel Leshoure. The Lions potential goes them the edge on offense.

Defense

Defensively, the Lions aren't bad. As a team, they allow 27 points per game, but their special teams have inflated that total. Despite a number of playmakers up front, they've lacked big play ability sacking just 12 quarterback and forcing five turnovers. The secondary is once again the weak link, waiting until last week to intercept their first pass.

As we've talked about for weeks, this Bears defense is the polar opposite. They are all about the big play with 18 sacks, 17 takeaways and five touchdowns of their own. The Lions offensive line will be a good test as they do an excellent job of protecting Stafford. Job one Monday night is containing Calvin Johnson. You can't shut him out, but you can't let him beat you. The Bears get the edge on defense.

Special Teams

The Lions have struggled to cover kicks. In fact, they became the first team in NFL history to allow both a punt and kickoff return for a touchdown in consecutive games. As usual, I'm riding with the Tober. The Bears get the special teams edge.

Intangibles

Lovie's guys have to be feeling good about themselves these days. They're riding a three game win streak and should be well-tested coming off the bye. They have also enjoyed the bright lights of MNF in recent years. The Lions have gotten off to a disappointing 2-3 start, but may have found a spark in their improbable come from behind win at Philly last weekend. They're still the Lions: potentially explosive on offense, capable of giving up the big play in the secondary, and more than willing to shoot themselves in the foot. They got the W last week despite commuting 16 penalties. That type of self-destructive behavior won't play against this Bears team. Time to create more distance between themselves and the rest of the NFC north.

Prediction

Bears 24, Lions 20

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