Sunday Snapshot: Lions vs. Bears

The NFL experts from The Sports Xchange chip in with everything you need to know before Sunday's opener, as the Chicago Bears face off with the rival Detroit Lions in Week 1 at Soldier Field.

SUNDAY SNAPSHOT
Kickoff: 12:00 Central
Surface: Natural Grass
Television: FOX – Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick
Series History: 161st regular-season meeting. Bears lead series 91-64-5. Chicago has won four of last five meetings. Bears have scored at least 26 points in seven of last eight meetings, including a total of 85 points in the last two meetings. Each of the previous six years have been sweeps, four by the Bears and two by the Lions (2004 and 2007).

KEYS TO THE GAME
To protect QB Jay Cutler, who was sacked 10 times in his final four quarters of preseason play, the Bears will ride Matt Forte and Chester Taylor behind an offensive line with four starters in positions they didn't occupy full-time last season. The lack of cohesion showed in the preseason. There will be opportunities for both teams to strike downfield against shaky safeties. Lions' rookie RB Jahvid Best adds an explosive playmaker to the Detroit offense. He'll line up in the slot and get carries to create mismatches. Likewise, the Bears will shuffle DE Julius Peppers to multiple positions to force the Lions to adjust blocking protection and account for him on every down.

FAST FACTS
Cutler was never sacked five times in a game last season. He was sacked five times in one half of the Aug. 22 preseason game vs. Oakland. ... Forte had two 100-yard games last season – both against Detroit. ... Lions QB Matthew Stafford had 296 yards passing in his only start against the Bears in 2009. He was also sacked a season-high five times.


TE Desmond Clark
Scott Boehm/Getty

PERSONNEL NEWS
Bears:
LB Lance Briggs (ankle) was limited at practice but still expects to play Sunday. ... TE Desmond Clark (ankle) was added to the injury report on Thursday and limited at practice, but he is expected to play Sunday. ... S Craig Steltz was back at practice this week after suffering a sprained ankle in the first preseason game, but he was limited and is not expected to be active on Sunday. ... CB D.J. Moore saw brief action in just three games last year as a rookie, but he has been lining up with the No. 1 nickel defense for the past three weeks and expects to start there Sunday. ... S Major Wright has not played since suffering a fractured finger, which required surgery, in the first preseason game. But the rookie has been practicing for two weeks and will play Sunday. He has a good chance to replace one of the starting safeties – Chris Harris or Danieal Manning – in the near future.

Lions: Best is going to be the primary back, and the Lions feel comfortable using him in every situation. The initial plan was for him to split the position with veteran Kevin Smith, but Smith's recovery from major knee surgery isn't complete. Smith could be inactive Sunday. ... RB Maurice Morris, who finished last season as the No. 1 tailback, will most likely back up Best. ... DeAndre Levy (groin) has not practiced since sustaining the injury on the first drive of the third exhibition game. The Lions haven't ruled him out but are preparing Johnson to start against the Bears. ... LB Landon Johnson is the most likely candidate to start at middle linebacker if Levy can't play. The Lions could also used newly-acquired Spencer Havner, though he was playing mostly on offense before being released by Green Bay. ... LT Jeff Backus will be matched up against Peppers. It will be the second time the 10-year vet has butted heads with Peppers, and he doesn't have many fond memories of the first encounter. ... DT Ndamukong Suh will be matched up, at least to start, against Bears' second-year RG Lance Louis. Suh was the second-overall pick in the last draft, Louis the 246th in 2009. It will be Louis' first NFL start. ... CB Aaron Berry will be handling the nickel back duties on Sunday. Dre' Bly and Eric King, who had been playing the role most of camp, were both cut. ... S C.C. Brown is trying out different casts and sleeves to protect the hairline fracture on his right forearm. It's the second time Brown fractured his forearm, the first being in 2008 with Houston. ... S Louis Delmas (groin) was at practice Thursday and is on track to play Sunday.

PREDICTION
Bears 27, Lions 23.


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