Bears' Best Bet to Run Wild

If history is any guide, the Chicago Bears will need to run the ball often, and effectively, if they are to have any chance of picking up their first road win of the season.

The last seven times the Bears have failed to run the ball more than 20 times, they've lost every game. In those losses, the Bears have run the ball an average of just 15 times.

In every one of their last 10 victories, the 2-0 Bears have run the ball 27 times or more, an average of 32.4 times per game.

That formula should be especially effective against the 4-0 Lions on Monday night in Detroit for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, the Bears need to keep the Lion' offense off the field, specifically quarterback Matthew Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Detroit is tied for second in the league, scoring an average of 33.8 points per game.


RB Matt Forte
Stacy Revere/US Presswire

The best way to minimize the impact of the Lions' offense is to keep it off the field, and that means possessing the ball for as long as possible by keeping it on the ground, keeping the chains moving and the clock ticking.

In Johnson's seven games against the Bears, the only time he had Stafford at quarterback for the entire game, he caught 8 passes for 133 yards in Week 4 of the 2009 season. That's the only 100-yard game Johnson has against the Bears.

But it's too much to ask cornerback Charles Tillman to shut down the league's biggest and one of the best wide receivers for an entire game.

Another reason for giving Matt Forte as many carries as he can handle is the Bears' offensive line. It is shaky at best in pass protection but has always been considered much better at run blocking. That is especially true when rookie right tackle Gabe Carimi gets back on the field, although unfortunately for the Bears that won't be this week.

And, in case anyone hasn't noticed yet, Forte is clearly the best and most consistent offensive player the Bears have. Why not put the ball in his hands as many times as possible?

In addition, Marion Barber is now healthy, and his physical style of running can only help wear down the Lions' defense and provide an effective complement to Forte's slashing style.

Against a Lions defense that is No. 20 in rushing yards allowed and tied for No. 23 in average gain per rushing play, a steady diet of Forte and Barber makes sense. The Lions have been much better when opponents throw the ball. They're tied for third in average gain per pass and 12th in passing yards allowed.

The choice for the Bears seems simple.

SERIES HISTORY: 163rd regular-season meeting. Bears lead series, 93-64-5. The Bears have won the last six meetings and 10 of the last 12. The series has been swept in each of the past seven seasons, with the Lions winning both games in 2007 and '04.


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