Tonight marks only the fifth time the Bears will meet the Lions on Monday Night Football, who will be hosting a Monday night game for the first time since 2001.
The Lions have taken three out four on ‘MNF’ against Chicago, the latest game coming in 1995.
Bears head coach Lovie Smith has been successful on Monday night, posting a 6-1 record in his tenure in Chicago.
The Bears are actually the last team to beat the Lions, beating them six times in a row. The Lions have won 8 straight games since that 24-20 loss on December 5th last year.
In six career games against Detroit, Matt Forte has rushed 95 times for 498 yards and three touchdowns, while reeling in 19 receptions for 259 yards and three touchdowns.
Last season, in the Bears home opening win against Detroit, Forte took a screen pass 89 yards for a score. When Forte rushes for 100+ yards, the Bears are 9-0.
The offensive line for the Bears were able to open up holes for Forte last week against Carolina, but the ferocious Lions defensive front isn’t a unit known to give up a lot of yards. In fact, they’ve only allowed one rushing touchdown all season.
The Bears offensive line against the Lions defensive line is a match-up to watch all night long. Another key match-up to watch is the Bears defense against Lions tight ends Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler.
It’s clear the Bears will be focusing in on WR Calvin Johnson, but with the focus on Johnson that could leave some catches out there for the Lions tight ends.
In seven career games against the Bears, Johnson has reeled in 33 catches for 484 yards and three touchdowns.
Those stats aren’t that great considering of how talented Johnson is. The Bears have done a good job at containing him in games against him and the Lions.
Mentioned above, the focus will be on containing Johnson, so athletic tight ends Pettigrew and Scheffler will likely see some passes coming their way. Nickelback D.J. Moore and LB Brian Urlacher will have to be focused on stopping those tight ends, if not the Bears defense could be in trouble.
Lions RB Jahvid Best is a very gifted back and the Bears haven’t been great at stopping the run, but the defensive front will be ready. The Bears defense is ready to redeem themselves from a disappointing performance last week against Carolina.
Will they be able to shut down the potent offense for the Lions? Tonight will show Bears fans, if this defense is still one of the “elite” units.
Safety Chris Harris, tight end Matt Spaeth and guard Chris Spencer will all be able to play after dealing with injuries as of late. Unfortunately, rookie right tackle Gabe Carimi (knee) and WR Earl Bennett (chest) are still out with their injuries.
The Lions will be without safety Eric Coleman (ankle), former Bear, WR Rashied Davis (foot) and tackle Jason Fox (foot). CB Aaron Berry (groin), DE Lawrence Jackson (hamstring) and safety Amari Spievey (hamstring) are all questionable.
Players Who Must Step Up:
1) Israel Idonije- In eight career games against the Lions, Idonije has racked up one sack and one forced fumble. Last season, Idonije broke out with eight sacks playing across Julius Peppers, but through four games this season he only has one. He needs to bring some pressure off the end, Stafford is a strong armed quarterback, who at times can be rattled by pressure.
Prediction: Four tackles, one sack.
2) Johnny Knox- In three career games against the Lions, Knox has reeled in 11 passes for 117 yards and returned a kick off 102 yards for a touchdown. He hasn’t found the end zone so far this season and is likely hungry to get a score tonight. Look for Knox to be a key target for Cutler all night.
Prediction: Six catches, 77 yards, one touchdown.
3) Charles Tillman- In 13 career games against the Lions, Tillman has four interceptions and one forced fumble. He will likely match-up with the 6’5″ Calvin Johnson. Look for Tillman to be focused at containing Johnson. One thing if for sure, he will definitely be trying to force a fumble or two.
Prediction: Seven tackles, one forced fumble.
Who will win?
Bears 24, Lions 23.