Chicago Bears @ Detroit Lions (1:00 ET, FOX, 9/29/2013)

Last Week

The Lions pulled away in the 4th quarter en route to a 27-20 win at the hapless Redskins. The Bears dominated the Steelers 40-23, though it was closer than the score indicated.

Bears Run Versus Lions Run Defense

Matt Forte finally broke out against the Steelers, sort of. The bulk of his 87 yards came on a 55 yard run; take it out and you have 15 carries for 32 yards, which isn't all that great. Than again, that's not how it works. Cutler also had a memorable 13 yard run late in the game (culminating with a huge hit on a Pittsburgh defender). For all of the talk about the vaunted Lions defensive line, they are not a good team against the run. This is likely the easiest test the Bears will have faced this year, which means I'd expect a steady dose of Forte. On the whole, it's looked like Forte has lost something, but it's still young on the season; a poor week here and I'll be worried, though.

Lions Run Versus Bears Run Defense

Reggie Bush has been sort of a revelation in his limited time. He's not a great running back, but he's the same sort of dual-threat that Forte is, and very dangerous out of the backfield as a receiving option. As a runner, though, I'm more afraid of Joique Bell. He's more explosive than Bush (but has the same sort of threat potential out of the backfield). Neither is a top-tier running back, but a healthy rotation of the two will allow the Lions to always present a threat to run, sell the playaction, and have a safety valve capable of receiving the short throws. The Bears are a great defensive team against the run, so this will be a very important matchup.

Bears Pass Versus Lions Pass Defense

Jay Cutler has looked pretty damn good this year, hasn't he? It's hard to parse out how much of it is him and how much is the Trestman effect (I'd wager it's more of the latter than the former), but when it gets down to it, Cutler is 13th in DYAR but 3rd in QBR (a pretty meaningless stat, but not as maligned as I thought at first). The Lions are a stout defensive team against the pass, but they are dead last in protection against RBs. I'll leave it up to you to guess what that means. 

Lions Pass Versus Bears Pass Defense

Matt Stafford has been pretty damn good this year. He's 5th in the league per FO's DYAR (behind Rodgers, Ryan, Rivers (!), and P. Manning), and that honestly sounds about right. Of course, it's easy to be good when you have Calvin Johnson on your team, but that's taking the easy way out; Burleson was also pretty solid for the Lions this year.

Unfortunately for Detroit, Burleson injured himself and is out for the season. This will allow (hopefully) the Bears to really key in on Megatron and shut the passing game down. After Johnson, Stafford really favors his two running backs, and the only other person who sees targets is Brandon Pettigrew, who might be the worst TE in the game today. The Bears have allowed big games from opposing squad's #1 WR so far this year, so it's definitely possible for Stafford and Johnson to take over this game, but I have to think that with Burleson out, the Bears can afford to aggressively blanket Calvin and hope that Pat "Who?" Edwards doesn't beat them. 

That being said, the Bears' D-Line has been bad this year. Give an ordinary QB time and he'll look very good. Give a very good QB time and he'll cut you a new asshole, regardless of who he's throwing to. 

Special Teams

Detroit has an actively bad ST unit, but the Bears haven't been as sublime this year as in year's past. Still, this a definite advantage to Chicago


I think the Bears are the better team, but it's hard for me to pick them in Detroit. I don't see them stopping the aerial assault that the Lions are going to put up in this game, especially because Detroit's dynamic running game is going to keep Chicago honest. Part of me feels like this is setting myself up for disaster, but I think the Lions get up early, Cutler throws a WTF interception, and the Lions win comfortably.

Detroit 31, Chicago 21

(3-0 straight up, 1-1-1 ATS)