Up for Grabs

Chicago - The Bears are tied for first place after two weeks and there's no reason they can't remain atop the division through the end of the season. A 38-6 victory over Detroit proved no team will run and hide in the NFC North.

Detroit was the only team in the division to come away with a win in Week 1. The Lions wanted to make a statement with their trip to Chicago, but it was the Bears that proved they're a factor in the playoff race.

"You have to get a win like this for the guys to believe in ourselves and know that we're a good football team," said head coach Lovie Smith.

Conversely, Minnesota fell to 0-2 after being blown out 37-8 at Cincinnati. The Vikings appear to miss Randy Moss more than they thought considering the offense has produced just 13 points in two games.

Green Bay dropped a 26-24 decision to the Browns and join the Vikings in the division cellar. The Packers are also without their best receiver for the remainder of the season. Javon Walker suffered a torn ACL vs. Detroit and his absence leaves major questions about the depth of the receiving corps.

The Lions may have offensive talent around Joey Harrington, but he doesn't appear ready to lead a team to the postseason. His lack of awareness in the pocket allowed blitzers to put a blindside hit on him as he threw the ball, which attributed to his five interceptions.

The Bears seemed to feed off the 62,019 fans in the stands. With a game next week against the Bengals, who have outscored their opponents 64-21, coming out with a win heading into the bye week would be huge.

It was a complete effort against the Lions. The defense and special teams each came up with a score. The offense rushed for 187 yards and did enough in the passing game to keep the Lions guessing.

After letting a potential win get away last week, a blowout over a division rival is a boost to the ego. Despite holding the Redskins without a touchdown, the defense took the blame for the 9-7 loss to Washington.

The unit improved their execution against Detroit and appears to be as good as advertised, allowing just 15 points in two games and forcing eight turnovers.

"We've done some talking and to have a showing like today shows everyone what we can do," said LB Lance Briggs. "This is what we expect every week. This is the way the Chicago Bears should be playing."

The key will be to take care of business in the division. The Bears were swept by the Lions last year, while they split with the Packers and Vikings.

Another factor will be establishing a home field advantage. The team went 2-6 at Soldier Field in Smith's first year as head coach.

The Bears have the easiest schedule of any team in the NFL. The final month of the season that looked to be tough entering the campaign is taking a different turn. All the sudden, trips to Green Bay and Minnesota could make for a happy holiday season.

Obviously there is a lot of football to be played between now and December, but the Bears took a major step toward playoff legitimacy with their domination of the Lions.


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