Considering they rushed for a season-high 187 yards in a Week Two rout of the Lions, the Bears are expected to run the ball frequently in Sunday's rematch, and they would love to get rookie Cedric Benson some much needed work, as they did in the first game, when he picked up 16 of his 29 carries this season.
But the Bears will not ignore the passing game, especially the deep ball, which they continue to call but have not had much success with. With Lions CB Dre Bly out, the time may be right for rookie QB Kyle Orton to finally hook up with WRs Muhsin Muhammad and Mark Bradley, who have been open in the past two games but usually overshot by the rookie QB.
"We know they're going to be determined to stop the run from what we did last time so we're going to have to make some plays in the passing game and we're going to have to get the ball down the field more," said offensive coordinator Ron Turner.
With the Lions' WR corps severely shorthanded because of injuries, it gives the Bears' defense even more reason to focus on stopping the run, which they do on a regular basis anyway. The Bears had more success last week going with a straight four-man rush, rather than blitzing, and they are likely to do the same this week.
"His mobility, his ability to make plays with his feet I think help opened up some things for them last week," said defensive coordinator Ron Rivera. "I know they only scored 13 points, but I think his ability to be mobile in the pocket, to force things when the protection breaks down is most certainly a concern of ours."
MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Lions QB Jeff Garcia, who replaced Joey Harrington last week, against a Bears defense that picked off Harrington five times in Week Two. Bears CB Nathan Vasher had two of the interceptions.
Bears WLB Lance Briggs and MLB Brian Urlacher against Lions RB Kevin Jones. In the Week Two matchup, the Lions rushed for just 29 yards on 17 attempts. Briggs has 63 tackles, one more than his more celebrated teammate.
"I think Urlacher is certainly the key and Briggs is becoming a fine linebacker," said Detroit head coach Steve Mariucci. "They play hard and their front seven is a very good and they pick and choose their blitzes and I just think it is a very good defense."
LIONS GAME PLAN
RB Thomas Jones ripped the Lions for 139 yards rushing in the first meeting six weeks ago. They can't give up that kind of yardage and expect their own struggling offense to keep them in the game. The defense has been their meal ticket in recent weeks and coordinator Dick Jauron will have to come up with a plan to shut down the Chicago running game, force turnovers and enable the Lions to win with 14-20 points.
Without wideouts Charles Rogers, Kevin Johnson and possibly Roy Williams, look for QB Jeff Garcia to go to TE Marcus Pollard. He's Detroit's leading pass catchers with 13 receptions, but doesn't have the fondest memories from the first meeting of the year, if he can even recall the game at all. Chicago SS Mike Brown leveled Pollard as he went up for a ball over the middle and had to be helped off the field.
Getting Kevin Jones on track will also be a key element if the Lions hope to come away with better results.
"Going into the game we figure they're going to try to the run ball," Mike Brown said. "Of course, when you're down so many big time players on the receiving end you probably have to change your game plan a little bit."
LIONS MATCHUPS TO WATCH
Lions FB Cory Schlesinger vs. Bears MLB Brian Urlacher. Schlesinger didn't get as much playing time as the Lions lead blocker as he would have liked but it's likely he'll get more in his second week back from a broken leg.
"He's a guy we have to get after," Urlacher said. "He's probably one of the better blockers in the league, but I don't get more hyped up for him. It's the same as anybody else."
Lions QB Jeff Garcia vs. Bears SS Mike Brown. Garcia specializes in keeping plays alive with his feet and his wits; Brown specializes in big defensive plays. He returned a Harrington pick 41 yards for a touchdown in the first meeting.
"He gives his receivers time to get open and we've got to count on our front four to get pressure on him and keep him contained so us guys on the back end can take care of business," Brown said of Garcia.