Five Things to Watch Sunday

Bear Report is covering the afternoon matchup in Week 4 between the Bears and Lions at Ford Field in Detroit, and here are the top five things to be on the lookout for that could have a major effect on the final score.

1. Will Griese make that much of a difference on offense?
Rex Grossman has been very successful in the past against the Lions and threw five interceptions against zero interceptions in two games against them last season, but he won't get the opportunity to continue that streak Sunday. Head coach Lovie Smith just couldn't take all the turnovers after three games, so he's going with Brian Griese under center in order to protect the football better. It's been almost two seasons since Griese started a game in the NFL, but he's still very accurate, can work the short and intermediate throws quite well, and commands the huddle like the experienced veteran he is.

While the vertical passing game won't be quite as effective because Grossman has a much stronger arm and is pretty accomplished throwing the deep ball, this offense looked horrendous the first three weeks and the collective patience of Bears fans was well past the boiling point.

2. Does this secondary have any chance with all the injuries?
The Bears could not have picked a worse week to have so many injuries in the defensive backfield because Detroit has the top passing offense in the league at an amazing 376 yards per game, plus QB Jon Kitna is completing an impressive 68.4% of his throws. Super rookie Calvin Johnson will be a gametime decision with a bad back, but Roy Williams is a freak with his combination of size and speed, Mike Furrey is on pace for 80 more receptions after an NFC-leading 98 in 2006, and Shaun McDonald is the latest no-name wideout to flourish in Mike Martz's pass-happy scheme. Not only was Mike Brown lost for the season after Week 1, but neither Nathan Vasher (groin) nor Charles Tillman (ankle) is expected to play and Adam Archuleta is currently sporting a cast on his broken right hand.

Rookie cornerbacks Trumaine McBride and Corey Graham could both see significant action as well as first-year safety Kevin Payne, but look for starting free safety Danieal Manning to possibly start at corner since he got a lot of time there during the offseason program.

3. Is this the week Peterson starts to take carries away from Benson?


RB Adrian Peterson
Denis Poroy/AP Images
Cedric Benson had more carries than any other running back in the entire NFL last season without a fumble, but if you include Super Bowl XLI, he's now lost three in his last four contests. He didn't see the field again after coughing one up last Sunday against the Cowboys, but Coach Smith denied any speculation that Benson was benched in favor of backup Adrian Peterson. Benson ran well against Kansas City but did not put up very good numbers against either San Diego or Dallas, and he's done nothing to disprove the belief that Peterson is both a better receiver out of the backfield and a better blocker in pass protection.

Just as Grossman lost his job to Griese after continually playing below expectations, it's reasonable to assume that Peterson will be given more looks Sunday against the Lions and has a legitimate chance to unseat Benson as the No. 1 tailback in town.

4. Can Williams give us a sneak peek at the 2008 season?
Brian Urlacher gets all the linebacker attention in Chicago, and rightfully so, but Lance Briggs has been the most impressive LB in the Windy City through three games. Briggs once again leads the team in tackles with 22 (20 solos), even though he left last Sunday's game against the Cowboys with a groin injury and didn't return in the second half. Perhaps not by coincidence, a 3-3 defensive battle at intermission consequently turned into a 34-10 Cowboys rout when it was all said and done.

Second-year pro Jamar Williams took over on the weak side in a relief role and registered an eye-opening 11 tackles in little more than a half, proving that he can indeed get the job done and possibly making the front office feel better about letting Briggs depart as a free agent after the season.

5. Which Hester will show up in the Motor City?
Nobody will argue the fact that Devin Hester is the most electrifying return man in the league and perhaps the most exciting player in all of football, but none of his once-in-a-generation skills were on display in prime time against Dallas. He put the ball on the ground three times, and then he kept trying to return kickoffs that were six and seven yards deep in the end zone instead of just taking a knee and the subsequent touchback. Hester admitted at Halas Hall on Thursday that he felt pressure to make a big play and simply tried to do too much, but now is not the time for the phenom to get conservative.

The Bears will need to score some serious points Sunday in Detroit because the Lions have proven that they can hang a big number on just about anyone – all of Chicago's defensive injuries certainly make that scenario even more likely now – so Hester's ability to flip field position and possibly go the distance on a punt or kickoff might be needed more than ever.

John Crist is the Editor in Chief of BearReport.com and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.


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