Must Win? More so for the Lions

Lake Forest - With the Bears and Lions trying to get over .500, while taking sole possession of first place in the NFC North, each side can lay claim to why they have to come out on top. Taking several things into account, the Lions definitely need the win more than the Bears.

The Bears are looking to move over .500 for the first time under head coach Lovie Smith. The franchise hasn't been above the breakeven point since being 2-1 three games into the 2002 campaign.

A victory over the Lions would give them a one-game lead over Detroit. By virtue of a season sweep it would be more like a two-game advantage because of the tiebreaker.

The Bears would move to 3-0 in the division as well as carry a three-game winning streak into a favorable part of the schedule. They would have a chance to distance themselves from the competition with a winnable road game against the Saints followed by a home date vs. the 49ers.

Although some may say it's too early to look at the state of the other teams, the Packers are done. Giving up a 17-0 lead to the Vikings was bad enough, but losing RB Ahman Green is the final nail the coffin.

The Bears have had their fair share of key players go down over the past three seasons. This year they believe the depth of the team is good enough to overcome the absence of a starter for a brief period of time. Thus has been the case on the offensive line, where John Tait sat out against Minnesota and Ruben Brown has missed the last two weeks.

"If injuries happen they're just part of the game," Smith said. "We've had I guess you can say good luck then this year with that, but that's why you have a 53-man roster. So if we do have one, someone else will step up and we'll go from there."

Minnesota gave Mike Tice a stay of execution with their come back effort vs. the Packers. A quick reality check is likely to come this Sunday when the Vikings (2-4) travel to Carolina. The team has been outscored 95-21 in three road games this season.

The Lions have made a change at quarterback that showed immediate dividends with a 13-10 win at Cleveland. Joey Harrington is out and Jeff Garcia is the guy until the end of the year unless he suffers a setback from a broken leg.

Harrington threw five interceptions in the Bears 38-6 win over Detroit in Week 2. The Lions are still stinging over the blowout and will look to even the score at home.

On the flipside, the Lions swept the Bears last season by a combined total of ten points and could return the favor with their first road win of the season.

"Two tough losses we had against them, so it's a big game for us," Smith said. "We're just looking at it a game at a time and Detroit's up next with a lot at stake."

Mentally there is more on the line than one game in the standings. To go into Ford Field and come out with a victory could send the Lions reeling because of a rash of injuries.

Their victory over the Browns came with a hefty price. Cornerback Dre Bly (dislocated wrist) and defensive tackle Shaun Rogers (right MCL) were among the injured at Cleveland. Preliminary indications are that both will lose playing time, but will not be gone for the season.

Veteran wide receiver Kevin Johnson suffered a ruptured right Achilles tendon and will require season-ending surgery.

Kick returner Eddie Drummond (hyper-extended knee) and WR Roy Williams (strained quadriceps) have missed all but a few plays of the past three games and. WR Charles Rogers still has one game remaining on a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse rules.

The division will not be decided one way or another this Sunday, but with a victory the Bears could take another step toward becoming a legitimate playoff contender and in the process deal the Lions a meaningful blow.


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