After a disappointing 2009 season, the Bears will look to get off on the right track when they host the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
The Bears swept the series with Detroit last season, but they know this Sunday wont be a pushover. The Lions have
seemed to improve ever since their 0-16 season a few years back. The talent is starting to build. Led by Calvin Johnson and Matt Stafford, the Lions drafted play making running back Jahvid Best out of Cal.
With Green Bay and Minnesota being the favorites for the NFC North this season. Both the Bears and Lions feel like they have something to prove.
A week 1 divisional win would be a good start.
After struggling on offense last season; the Bears brought in Mike Martz as offensive coordinator, in hopes of improving the offense all-around. Martz led the St.Louis Rams to a Super Bowl win, and two appearances. But this Bears team doesn’t have Kurt Warner, Torry Holt, Issac Bruce, Marshall Faulk, and Orlando Pace.
Well they had Pace, but it didn’t work out to well last season.
Martz is confident in what Chicago has. Believing that players like Devin Hester, Johnny Knox, Matt Forte, and Jay Cutler can play well enough to lead the Bears to a division title. If that’s the case, then Bears fans should be excited.
When the Bears hired Martz, they did it to help Jay Cutler return to his Pro-Bowl form he had two seasons ago. Martz runs a offense that is based on short and efficient passes. Moving the ball down the field steady, and utilizing all receivers.
Something that should benefit Cutler, who struggled last season while throwing 26 interceptions. Cutler needs to find
rhythm with his receivers and make those short effective throws. Take it one play at a time and don’t force anything down the field.
Cutler threw for 417 yards, six touchdowns, 0 interceptions and a 62 completion percentage against the Lions in two games last season.
In my eyes there is no better opponent for the Bears to open up with other than Detroit. Ignore the obvious division opponent element. Detroit has a weak secondary, and Cutler should be able to shred it.
The Lions defensive line has improved since last season. By drafting Ndamukong Suh, and signing free agent Kyle Vanden Bosch to stack their line.
Detroits line will be a early test for a Bears offensive line who has been criticized since week one of last season.
The offensive line better get used to it though. Their next three games they play solid defenses; Green Bay, Dallas, and New York Giants, that could wreck through the line to get pressure on Cutler.
The Bears defense welcomes back their healthy captain in Brian Urlacher, who missed all of one quarter last year. It showed as the Bears struggled all year and were torched in a number of games.
This is a big year for the Bears defense, most likely their last chance to try and prove the remaining hopeful that they can still be a good defense. Chicago did everything right to try and improve their defense in the off season. They added top free agent Julius Peppers to boost their line, traded for former Bear and play maker Chris Harris, and drafted Major Wright to boost their safety position.
The Bears secondary is the major concern though. The Lions will keep corners Charles Tillman and Zackary Bowman on their heels with a target like Calvin Johnson. Brandon Pettigrew and Nate Burleson could also be a surprise to the Bears defense. The secondary needs to respect their play making as well.
The Bears need to get pressure on Stafford, and force him to make mistakes. Pressure early in the game will give the Bears an advantage, and help them stay in the game. Especially if the offense is struggling.
If the Bears can pull out a win at Soldier Field, it will give them something positive as the next few weeks don’t look to promising. They play three NFC teams, who are expected to be in their own division race.
If the Bears want to avoid a possible 0-4 start a win Sunday is a must.
Three Keys to the Game for the Bears
-Get pressure on Matt Stafford. Stafford is still a young quarterback who can get rattled. This is a good opportunity for the “Rush Men” to get a great start on the season. Peppers, Tommie Harris and the rest of the line should make the Lions offensive line work a bit harder.
-Be excellent on special teams. The Bears are known for their good special teams play, so let’s see it in week one. The Lions have some new faces on special teams, and week one is a week to get settled in. Johnny Knox, Devin Hester, Robbie Gould and Brad Maynard can excel and put the Lions in tough spots.
-Matt Forte needs a big game. Forte has rushed for at least 100 yards in all four games against the Lions in his career. A solid run game will open up play action, a offensive coordinators dream. Cutler will have less pressure on him with a solid run game. Plus, Forte needs to pickup where he left off in 2008. Not 2009.
Bears 23, Lions 14