Detroit Lions v Arizona Cardinals

Make no mistake about it this is a big game. It’s a proving ground where the winner will make themselves out to be an NFC heavyweight. The winner of this game will make it as far as the divisional round of the playoffs. The team that falls today will make the playoffs but will fall in the wildcard game.

NFL: SEP 13 Lions at SaintsWhile it’s endearing to think the roll of the Cardinals will continue, but without Carson Palmer this team can’t make it to the Super Bowl. Truth is Drew Stanton is a very capable backup who is 3-0 this year and was 2-1 for the Lions in 2010 in the same capacity. However right now he’s completing just 49.5% of his passes. He hasn’t thrown an interception yet but he is going to go against the #1 defense in the Lions.

This is the game Matthew Stafford and the Lions will prove their mettle with a tight win. Calvin “Megatron” Johnson has beat Patrick Peterson like a drum since they have played in the NFL. The Cardinals may try Antonio Cromartie on him some today. Detroit hasn’t been stellar on offense this year but if they didn’t have kicking woes, they would be the 8-1 team and not the Cardinals. Although 7-2 isn’t bad.

They will win today 23-14 and cement their legitimacy as an NFC favorite heading into the 2014 playoffs.

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Overcoaching: Take Two

There are multiple ways NFL teams overcoach. Some are merely lined up in formations that doesn’t suit their personnel. Others fail to include their best players often enough in their game to make a difference. Still others get away from their game plan too quickly in a knee jerk reaction to what is happening in a given game.

The Dez Bryant eruption on the sideline with fellow Cowboy Jason Witten.

The Dez Bryant eruption on the sideline with fellow Cowboy Jason Witten.

Several of those manifested themselves in the Dez Bryant outburst toward the end of Dallas 31-30 loss to the Detroit Lions. We have often said “When you have a talent like this, you sick him on the defense 15-20 times per game.” Every great receiver has been selfish and wanted the football and at what point does “We’re trying to get you the ball.” fall on deaf ears??

On the week he proclaimed to be as good as Calvin “Megatron” Johnson. Bryant had to watch in disbelief as the Lions fed his nemesis 14 times for a club record 329 yards and a touchdown. We’re not talking about the game where Terrell Owens set the reception record of 20 on 5 yard passes. “Megatron” averaged 23.9 yards per catch!! Seam routes, bombs, deep in routes, every single play designed to get him in winnable situations. When it called for it, put the ball up where he at 6’5 can get it.

Well the 6’2 Bryant who said earlier in the week he could do what Johnson can do, made a circus catch on one of his two touchdowns. However it was his 3 catches and something said after a pass thrown behind him in the third quarter that set him off. Yet across the field he watched the Lions move Johnson from the “X”, to the “Z” when he caught the bomb, to the “Slot” where he ran several corner routes. To the final seam route from the “Y” position that put the ball in place for the game winner by Stafford. The Lions game plan called to do what was possible to get him the ball. All the while Bryant played decoy on 59 of 64 offensive plays for Dallas.

The volatile Dez Bryant erupted on the Cowboys sideline eliciting multiple reactions from observers.

The volatile Dez Bryant erupted on the Cowboys sideline eliciting multiple reactions from observers.

If Bryant is the top gun in your offense, why are you only targeting him 5 times?? You need to have your main player be at the heart of the offense in the waning moments. Not watching Romo throw erratically over the head of Cole Beasley with 2:38 to go. Yet here he stood on the backdrop of personally challenging himself after calling out Johnson and had to stand and watch rookie Terrence Williams targeted 10 times during the contest.

Come on are you serious??

Now listen it’s easy to point out there was a better way for Dez Bryant to channel his emotions. However football is an emotional game played by men who do wear their passion on their sleeve. No one seemed to mind just two weeks ago when a livid Tom Brady berated his young receivers on the sideline for running the wrong routes and dropping passes against the Saints. In fact, the game’s announcers speculated why he was upset and justified it all at the same time. It could have gone for as long as Dez’s situation but the camera panned away after a few moments.

Bryan Cox had the same thing happen to him in 1995 when they caught him upset during a Monday Night game against Pittsburgh. Now he cited racial bias and asked why it wasn’t a concern when Dan Marino went off on the sideline. Remember the blow-up about Troy Aikman supposedly yelling at all African American players back in 1995?? What about the sideline blow-up of Ken Norton Jr & Thomas Everett during the 1992 NFC Championship Game against San Francisco??

This is football and you’ll have some of that and then you move on from it. There are fights during pre-season and some harsh things that are said on the sideline. Yet when the final minutes were ticking down in Norton, and Everett’s case, they were kissing cousins joking about their first Super Bowl visit sided by side. Norton with the football he intercepted Steve Young with under his arm to seal the win. This will blow over also but masked the big reason it happened and we’re speculating. Why was he upset in the first place??

He watched the Detroit Lion feed the ultimate competitor in Calvin Johnson the football. They were committed to getting him the football. In this instance, Bryant didn’t see that same commitment on the Cowboys part. Don’t even begin to bring up Cris Carter, Jerry Rice, Sterling Sharpe, and Michael Irvin from a generation ago being different. They were the exact same way. Taylor Blitz Times readers know I have the footage to back up exactly what I’m saying too. Yet overcoaching brought this on, trying to show how diverse the Cowboys attack can be rather than get the best players the football.

It was a good thing Bryant did go off instead of watching his teammates wander listlessly through the final plays of another 4th quarter meltdown. This team has anointed Tony Romo the leader when the defacto on the field, in the trenches “follow me” ass kicking player hasn’t been seen in Dallas since Marion Barber and Terrell Owens. Did he go overboard?? Come on every incident we glamorize about football is about extreme emotion on the sideline. We joke about it in the Jim Harbaugh commercial when he’s over the top coaching little kids. We joke about it when the black coach replaces Robin Williams after biting a snicker candy bar yelling “Now let’s go for it!!” at the top of his lungs.

Did you know that once upon a time the Baltimore Colts weren’t playing up to their ability in 1970?? They were in a team meeting when Mike Curtis lit into his team when he told them “We have three games plus the (postseason) . I’m going to play the same way I always play. And you’re going to go full speed in practice and in those games or I’m going to kick your ass, myself. Remember I said that.”  The Colts won all six and won Super Bowl V ironically against the Dallas Cowboys.

Someone needed to light a fire down in Dallas. Maybe they won’t coach past their strengths again leading to another meltdown. Fire can’t come from Jerry Jones, only fear. Fire comes from passionate teammates who are in the trenches with you. Dallas you’re 4-4 what are you going to do with this??

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2012 Detroit Lions Preview

After more than a decade of futility, the Detroit Lions returned to the NFL playoffs. Yet they served notice in the season finale, a 44-41 loss to Green Bay, and their 45-28 loss to the Saints in the NFC Wild Card game, that they’re a team on the move. In those games they weren’t overwhelmed as much as just slightly outclassed by two teams that were NFL Champions in two of the last three years. Much like the Oklahoma City Thunder of the NBA, you’re watching a team grow right before you with a run against the best their sport has to offer which will allow them to mature into champions. Will it happen this year??? Do you realize they did it without their best offensive draft pick in RB Mikel LeShoure, who missed the season with an injured knee??

Quarterback: Now last year we told you a Lion turnaround was imminent yet couldn’t happen without a healthy season from Matthew Stafford. https://taylorblitztimes.com/2011/05/19/2011-detroit-lions-preview/ Yet who could foresee the type of record  setting season he turned in. For the season, his 421 of 663 for 5,038 yards for 41 touchdowns to just 16 interceptions shattered team records. He joined Dan Marino, Kurt Warner, Peyton Manning, and Tom Brady as the only other quarterbacks who threw for more than  40 touchdowns in a season. Only three other quarterbacks in history had thrown for more than 5,000 yards either. Not bad for a QB completing his first healthy season.

One aspect of his value is how he improved as the season went on. In the Thanksgiving Day game where the Lions could make the leap to NFL elite status with a win over the Packers, Stafford turned in a subpar performance throwing for 276 yards & 3 interceptions in a 27-15 loss. Five weeks later he turned in a performance for the ages throwing for 520 yards and 5 TDs including a last minute touchdown drive in Lambeau Field. Although the Lions lost 44-41, he had come within 32 yards of breaking Norm Van Brocklin’s 62 year old record of 551 yards in a game. In this game he showed the go for broke moxie he displayed in bringing the Lions from behind as he had at Oakland two games prior. He grew as the season progressed and stands to come into 2012 as one of the NFL’s best. At quarterback the Lions are Super Bowl quality.

Versatile Jahvid Best

Offensive Backfield: Injuries forced this backfield to be in flux in 2011. When 2nd round draft pick Mikel Leshoure went down with an achille’s injury, Jahvid Best was forced to be a feature back when he’s more of a 3rd down guy. Best’s season was down production-wise in 2011 which saw him rush for only 390 yards and 2 scores, while catching 27 passes for 287 yards and another touchdown. He had 58 receptions in 2010 but a heavier workload saw him face time lost due to injury as well.

Although the team had to go running back by committee, each of the top three rushers on this team averaged 4 yards per carry or better. Kevin Smith #30 was the most productive back last year (72 car. 356 yds 4TDs) with a 4.9 yard average. Yet he also saw down time nicked with injuries. Lions’s brass must feel good about Mikel Leshoure’s recovery since they haven’t gone out to sign a more full time running back. http://prod.www.lions.clubs.nfl.com/news/lions-insider/article-1/RB-Mikel-Leshoure-participates-in-full-practice-for-first-time-since-Achilles-injury/ced9adaf-f263-4e05-a58d-66f0c3e3887d In fact he took several snaps in the June minicamp and came off looking like he was 100% healthy and ready for the new season. For those of you who can’t remember, he ran for over 300 yards in a game for the Illini and over 1,700 yards in his last collegiate season. He is 6’0 and 227 lbs, and an every down back. If he comes back 100% and takes the starting job, running back is average with a chance to be good. We have to wait and see… If he’s hurt and the backfield is thrown in flux again they drop back to below average…

Is a 2,000 yard season possible for Calvin Johnson?

Receivers: What else can be said of the electrifying talents of Calvin “Megatron” Johnson?? Going into last year, we felt he could possibly go for 90-100 receptions and 1,500 yards and he did not disappoint. Johnson’s 96 receptions for 1,681 yards  16 TDs made him a consensus All Pro. For the better part of the season he was on pace to break both Randy Moss’ touchdown record of 23 and Jerry Rice’s record of 1,808 receiving yards set in 1995. Do you realize he only needs 1,128 yards to hit the 7,000 yard mark for his career?? He’s the best weapon in the game today and his 11 catches for a team record 244 yards in the last game of the season put the Green Bay Packers and the rest of the league on notice. “Megatron” will flirt with a 2,000 yard season this year.

Last year this team received steady play from veteran Nate Burleson (73 rec / 757 yds) although he only caught 3 touchdowns. Will he be able to stay on the field with the Lions making Oklahoma wideout Ryan Broyles their 2nd round pick in the draft?? Keep in mind last year’s 2nd round pick Titus Young, from Boise St came on in the second half of the season. Of his 48 rec. for 607 yards and 6 touchdowns, 29 of those catches and 5 scores came in the second half of the season. All of this before we get to talented TE Brandon Pettigrew… No wonder this team couldn’t be stopped throwing the football. Even without a running game. This is already a Super Bowl caliber receiving corps. If Broyles can make the transition and come on late in the season…. dare we say it??

Offensive Line: This offensive line had mixed reviews last season as the team needs to protect Stafford better, they let him get hit 78 times last year along with 36 sacks. Too much for a quarterback who before last year had proven to be injury prone. To that avail the Lions made T Riley Reiff their #1 draft selection to help fortify the line. The question is will he fight for Left Tackle Jeff Backus’ job or Gosder Cherilus on the right?? Both tackles are  former #1 selections but Backus is going to be 34 years old when they go into camp. He will take over for Backus at Left Tackle later but he should unseat Cherilus as the starter on the right now. Why??

When you look at the statistics for this line everyone is expendable. On obvious rushing downs where it is 3rd or 4th and 2 or less, this team could only rush for the first down 57% of the time to the left, 54% of the time up the middle and 40% on the strong side. Are you serious?? Those rankings are 26th, 23rd, and 31st and have to improve. The strong side is your power rushing side and you need to have push. Have attitude about it. Yet how much can you attribute that to their not having their best running back out there for the season?? On second thought, it doesn’t matter we’re only talking 2 yards so the line has to take the blame for those short comings. This line had better play better or it could be the weak link that allows a promising team to fall to injury or short of it’s goal. Even with improvement this group still receives a below average grade.

Cliff Avril had a breakout year in 2011 and could hit the 15 sack plateau this year.

Defensive Line: This unit is one of the team’s strengths. Of the 41 sacks (10th in the NFL) last year, 19 came from Defensive Ends Cliff Avril with 11, and Kyle Vanden Bosch with 8. Avril has learned a tremendous amount from his counterpart and coming into his 5th season and 4th straight with improved sack totals, we see a Pro Bowl year for him with 15 sacks. The defensive ends did benefit from the attention DT Ndamukong Suh drew after his stellar rookie campaign. Suh suffered a sophomore slump though with 39 tackles and 4 sacks which was down from his 66 tackle 10 sack performance from a season before. The frustration for Suh boiled over with several personal foul calls when he lost his composure. The most visible was his ejection after kicking a Green Bay Packer lineman in a national televised game on Thanksgiving.

They need him to lead by example especially with fellow DT Nick Fairley coming into camp injury free and with the same temprament. Fairley needs to show up to back his high draft status and give Lions fans what they’ve been envisioning since his selection. If these two can channel that fire and brimstone energy into just going after running backs and quarterbacks, this group is good and can make the transition to Super Bowl quality if Fairley can start and make plays for the Lions. It’s critical to the team’s overall psyche and growth when players start to reach their potential

Former Tennessee Titan Stephen Tulloch fortified the middle of the Lions defense.

Linebackers: This is an uninspiring group at first glance and just like we said before last year they could use a free agent pick-up here. In space, The Chancellor doesn’t like the play of DeAndre Levy he seems stiff out in the open and a step slow reacting to plays. His great speed masks it to the layman football watcher but coaches can and do take advantage of that with intermediate passing routes to his flank. He moved back from the middle after playing inside for 2010. He did make a respectable 109 tackles but only forced 1 fumble and only defensed 1 pass. He needs to play more instinctive, especially behind this line. In Super Bowl XXXV, Ray Lewis playing in a 4-3, defensed 5 passes in that game himself!! So asking for more than 1 pass defensed over an entire season isn’t being difficult. Hopefully he can play more instinctive in his second season back outside.

Now one player who did play well last year was Middle Linebacker Stephen Tulloch #55. Of the Lions’ back 7 on defense, he was the most consistent performer with 127 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 7 passes defensed. He’s in his prime and for management’s sake should hope his improvement can be mirrored by Levy. The Lions are looking to shake things up at linebacker and selected two in the draft who seem to be paying dividends in OTAs already. Fifth round pick Tahir Whitehead out of Temple, and seventh round pick Travis Lewis from Sooner Nation. We think Travis Lewis will get on the field and replace Justin Durant by season’s end. If the Lions can get these young linebackers making plays this could be an above average group. As of right now we have to give them a below average grade and see how the position battles of summer camp pan out.

Houston had a big year in 2011. Pro Bowl in 2012??

Secondary: What is FS Louis Delmas back there reading?? Although he missed 5 games, he made 61 total tackles yet didn’t register 1 interception for a second straight season. This is one of the reasons the team finished with 21 interceptions while giving up 26 touchdowns and finished 22nd against the pass. With a pass rush this strong more plays needed to be made by the safeties. Delmas makes big hits but needs to arrive two steps before and make the interception. He has to show up this season. Amari Spivey improved in 2011 yet needs to step it up just a little bit more. In 2011 he made 75 tackles (up from 33 in 2010) intercepted 3 passes and had 1 sack. At cornerback Chris Houston (56 tackles / 5 ints) was solid although Houston missed 3 games. Chris proved to be the playmaker on this defense returning those 5 interceptions for a whopping 225 yards and 2 touchdowns.

The Lions made a serious statement in the draft taking 3 secondary players: CB Dwight Bentley in round 3, CB Chris Greenwood in round 5, and Jonte Green in round 7. They were prepared to replace CB Eric Wright, who departed via free agency and penciled nickel back Aaron Berry as the starter. Competition should be fierce for this cornerback spot with the signing of former Indianapolis Colt Jacob Lacey. This team has a few “ifs” in the secondary yet if they can stay healthy and Delmas can begin to read quarterbacks this secondary can be good. We have to wait until after training camp to find that out so they get a slightly below average grade for now.

Stafford needs to be healthy to take the Lions deep in the playoffs.

Overall: This team grew up in a major way last season. However, Head Coach Jim Schwartz has to get his team’s head out of the clouds and clean up the off the field issues. He has to keep his players from thinking they have arrived because of a little success. This is where he has to prove his mettle this year. One thing the Lions have this year is a relatively easy schedule, http://www.detroitlions.com/assets/pdf/2012_Det_Schedule.pdf They don’t play the bulk of their division rivals until we get to the second half of the season. More important they play 5 of their last 7 at home and the team should have growing pains ironed out by then.  One game to circle is the week 6 matchup with Philadelphia. Each team wants to prove they are among the NFC elite and this game will have wildcard ramifications if either doesn’t finish strong. The winner of this game will have a championship building block level of confidence come playoff time.

The health of Mikel Leshoure and the running game, an explosive Nick Fairley to add nastiness to the defense and further bolster a strong pass rush, and an improved Delmas could pay huge dividends if all come to pass. How huge?? A trip to Super Bowl XLVII down in New Orleans awaits them if they do. Last year they went 10-6 and fought tooth and nail in their final games and playoff loss.  We shall see how the preseason shakes out but this season just like last year, should end in the Super Dome.

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NEXT: Baltimore Ravens

Wild Card Week: Detroit Lions @ New Orleans Saints

Don’t you just love this time of year?? The chase is over for most NFL teams while the elite are gearing up for the real race to Super Bowl XLVI. Tonight’s game between the Detroit Lions and the NFC South champion Saints is shaping up to be a dandy. The league has celebrated Drew Brees and his record breaking 5,476 yards passing this season, yet no one is hailing Matthew Stafford for his 5,038 yard season. http://www.nfl.com/stats/player In his first full season as a starter, Stafford completed 63.5% of his passes for the aforementioned yardage, 41TDs to only 16 interceptions. Do you realize that in the last 3 games he’s thrown for 1,284 yards 12 TDs and only 2 interceptions?? One of those was a desperation heave at the tail end of the 44-41 season finale against the Green Bay Packers. The bottom line is he’s improved as this season has concluded and comes into this contest red hot.

He is throwing to Calvin “Megatron” Johnson, who had a tremendous season, finished with a 244 yard receiving performance in the finale against the Packers. That performance propelled Megatron ot overtake Wes Welker for the league lead in receiving yards with 1,681. What has been impressive with these two has been the fearlessness shown in the 4th quarter. The 98 yard drive on the road in Oakland in week 16 featured a 45 yard bomb to Johnson with less than 2 minutes on the clock. Even the finale against the Packers, Stafford threw for his 5th touchdown and what was thought to be the game winner, with less than 2 minutes to go in that one.

Standing in their way on the Bayou are the Saints, just one year removed from being Super Bowl champions. Drew Brees and the Saints have come down the stretch on fire. They are in the midst of an 8 game winning streak and scored over 40 in their last 3 contests. Yikes!! Something has to give. One major loss is the fact the Saints have to go into the playoffs without Mark Ingram. In a single game scenario Darren Sproles can fill the void but can he carry the load through the playoffs. At least Pierre Thomas is still there and is one of the best running backs on screen passes in case they can’t run effectively.

Both teams come in deficient on the defensive side of the ball ranking 23rd (Lions) and 24th (Saints) respectively. However there is a huge discrepancy between the two when it comes to forcing turnovers. The Saints have only forced an anemic 16 turnovers for the season where the Lions have forced 34. http://www.pro-football-reference.com/teams/det/2011.htm How will the Saints respond if they find themselves in a tight contest after cruising for the past 6 weeks?? What happens if Drew Brees gets off to a slow start or if the Lions force a few turnovers early?? Can the Saint defense do anything to turn the game around if this happens?? By the way Jabari Greer and Tracy Porter have to deal with Megatron… Can they??

To win the Lions have to force a few early turnovers and get ahead of the Saints. The Lions learned to win on the road early this year with the twin twelve point comebacks in Minnesota and Dallas in the 4th quarter. Even the last week of the season we witnessed valor in their 44-41 loss to the Packers. Stafford threw for 520 yards and came within 22 yards of the all time record set by Norm Van Brocklin in the early 50’s. In the playoffs you win with stars and the Lions have several in Stafford, Megatron, and Ndamukong Suh. To win the Saints need Will Smith, Roman Harper, and Jonathon Vilma to have spectacular games. In this one, the Lions are ripe for the upset. We just don’t believe in the Saints defense.

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Week 4 NFC North: Titans Ready to Collide

Detroit's defense harrased and hounded Tony Romo throughout the second half.

If someone were to have asked you at the beginning of the NFL season: Who would be the last two undefeated teams?? There is no way anyone would have guessed they would be the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers. Well the champion Packers yes but the Lions are roaring into the NFL’s collective conscience in a way not seen since the ’99 Rams. After over a decade of losing the Lions are on a tear. That’s right, 8 straight games when you include the last 4 to end the season and the first 4 of this campaign. However last Sunday’s win in Dallas might have been the most telling win out of all of them for the way they pulled it off.

We have talked at length about the psychological building blocks that make up a championship team. Understand this is a franchise a little over a year removed from losing the most consecutive road games in NFL history with 24. Now in back to back weeks the Lions roared from 20 points down to beat the Vikings 23-20 in Minnesota. Then with all NFL eyes upon them down in JerryWorld, they stormed from behind to win 34-30 after being down 27-3. What makes it one of those psychological building blocks we talk about?? The fact that they never believed they were out of the ball game and played with great heart. Detroit had to find a way to win with their defense and special teams forcing errors. Most great comebacks happen because a quarterback and his offense got hot. That wasn’t the case down in Dallas last Sunday.

Matthew Stafford struggled for much of the game yet came to life when he was needed to complete the comeback started by the defense. He threw for two fourth quarter touchdowns to Calvin “Megaton” Johnson, who now has 11TD throws on the year. Johnson has continued his torrid streak becoming the first in NFL history to start the season with 2 TDs in each of the first four games. Hell he’s on a pace to grab 32TDs. All of this while the Lions became the first team in NFL history to overcome 20 point deficits to win games. All of this on the road after setting the record for most consecutive road losses?? Yes, a complete confidence is growing within this Lions team that may become hard to extinguish, however the World Champion Packers are looming just over the horizon. Before we get there lets look at the standings.

NFC NORTH W L T PCT HOME ROAD DIV CONF PF PA DIFF STRK
Detroit 4 0 0 1.000 1-0-0 3-0-0 1-0-0 3-0-0 135 76 +59 Won 4
Green Bay 4 0 0 1.000 2-0-0 2-0-0 1-0-0 3-0-0 148 97 +51 Won 4
Chicago 2 2 0 .500 2-1-0 0-1-0 0-1-0 2-2-0 94 98 -4 Won 1
Minnesota 0 4 0 .000 0-2-0 0-2-0 0-1-0 0-2-0 77 96 -19 Lost 4

The WR/CB matchup of Green Bay's Charles Woodson and Detroit's "Megatron" Johnson should be worth the price of admission

Which brings us to the streaking World Champions, who are also 4-0. Aaron Rodgers has just made defenses look foolish with his torrid start to the season. His quarterback rating of 124.6 includes 12 TDs to just 2 interceptions and he has 1,325 yards passing. http://www.nfl.com/player/aaronrodgers/2506363/profile Yikes! After last year’s postseason run it’s a miracle he’s not getting more ink. Everyone has been talking about Cam Newton, Brady’s record setting start, Romo’s chronicles in Dallas, and even Matthew Stafford’s 11TD start in Detroit. Yet there may not be a team more reliant on their signal caller than the Super Bowl XLV MVP. Right now they are balanced with Rodgers at the helm. James Starks has 210 yards rushing which is supplemented by Ryan Grant’s 157. If Rodgers were hurt teams would come forward to stop the run more which is a no brainer. What has been overlooked is the fact that the Packers defense is ranked a dismal 28th overall and 31st against the pass. http://www.nfl.com/stats/categorystats?archive=false&conference=null&role=OPP&offensiveStatisticCategory=null&defensiveStatisticCategory=TEAM_PASSING&season=2011&seasonType=REG&t    This would not be a good time to take on Detroit and it’s a good thing they don’t have to for seven more weeks. What is a problem is the fact that there are no big injuries to point a finger to and after a quarter of the season is gone, it’s safe to say they may not be a top 10 defense this year. Teams are forced to play catch-up so much chasing the new highest scoring team in the league. The Packers dropped an epic 49-23 beatdown on the Denver Broncos last Sunday.

Matt Forte has quietly been one of the NFL's leading rushers.

However to the southwest is a Chicago Bear team seething at the attention afforded their division brethren. Sure they fell to the Packers 27-17 two weeks ago, but that was a tough game and the Bears relish a rematch with their rivals. Although they played in last year’s NFC Championship Game, this team has been largely forgotten about. They just beat the Carolina Panthers and slowed Cam Newton, somewhat, enroute to a 34-29 win that places them 3rd with a 2-2 record. This Monday Night matchup with the Detroit Lions is where the Bears can show that they are still in the fight. A lost fact is the Bears have scored over 30 points twice so far this season, and take a guess which two of their four games they won?? Matt Forte has rushed solidly for 324 yards and 1TD and Johny Knox and Devin Hester have been decent with 12 and 7 receptions respectively. However it’s former Lion WR Roy E. Williams who should be motivated to make an impression in this Monday Night showdown. If he can’t get going in this one against his former team when will he??

One looming problem for the Chicago Bears is they’re defense is ranked 31s overall after a tangle with Cam “The Human Highlight Film” Newton. He did throw for 376 yards on the Bears defense and they need to shore that up. By the way…did we tell you that Bears defensive co-ordinator is former Detroit Lions Head Coach Rod Marinelli??  Division rival…wanting to showcase that they are still an NFC heavy, and the emotion of Williams and Marinelli coming back to Motown!! Dammit Hank Williams for your comments about Obama being Hitler, but if ever we wanted to hear your “ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL??” It would be this Monday Night when the Bears travel to Ford Field.

The next time will be Thanksgiving when the Packers travel to Ford Field. Remember, late last year the Lions beat them in their 4 game winning streak. Shhhhh…food for thought.

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