Found November 11, 2011 on
PLAYERS: Chris Houston
TEAMS: Detroit Lions

I know it’s only week 10, but this Sunday’s game between the Bears and Lions has major playoff implications.  The Lions will put their 6-2 record on the line this week, while the Bears come into the game at 5-3.  The winner of this game will have both momentum and a clear sight of an NFC wild card berth.

Since these two teams’ last meeting on Monday night four weeks ago, the Bears have started firing on all cylinders, while the Lions have lost two of three.  The Bears have victories over Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, and Minnesota, while the Lions have managed to beat only Denver.

Quarterback Jay Cutler has been outstanding for Chicago since the team lost to the Lions at Ford Field a month ago.  The offensive line has stepped their game up, and Cutler has followed suit, throwing for five touchdowns compared to just two interceptions.

Cutler was confident about this week’s game against the Lions.

“(The offense) can do anything we want,” he said. “It’s an array of things we have in this offense, and when that front five is comfortable and they’re picking things up and the pocket is clean … it’s going to be hard to stop us.”

Cutler has that kind of confidence for a reason.  He had been sacked 18 times through five games this year, but has been sacked just three times in the Bears’ last three contests.  With a clean pocket, Cutler has been able to show off his strong arm and clarify why he was an 11th overall pick coming out of Vanderbilt.

On the other hand, the Lions are coming off the bye week, and with the extra week of rest and preparation, they should have an upper hand, especially with Chicago having a short week due to playing on Monday night.  Detroit will be the most prepared and rested team, but will that translate into a victory?

[Why Chris Houston is the Lions defensive MVP]

The answer will not come until Sunday, because this game could go either way.  When divisional rivals like Chicago and Detroit duel it out on the field, anything can happen.  We saw it last week in Pittsburgh, and we could very well see it again this week in Chicago.

The key for the Lions is winning the battle up front: slow down Matt Forte in the running game and hit Cutler as much as possible in the passing game.  Cliff Avril and Kyle VandenBosch will have to apply constant pressure on Cutler if the Lions want to win this game.

The Bears are 3-1 at home this year, the Lions 4-0 on the road.  Something has to give, and if something does give, it won’t be Ndamukong Suh.  The Bears offensive line will have to stand tall against a formidable front four, something they have not done yet this year (Sorry, Minnesota, but you are no longer “formidable” in my book).

Expect a trench war in Chicago this weekend- a trench war that should favor the Detroit Lions.


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