Behind Enemy Lines: Part III

Our Scout.com experts, John Crist of Bear Report and Nate Caminata of Roar Report, break down Sunday's game between the Bears and Lions at Soldier Field in Chicago. Let's finish this three-part series with some matchups to watch, game scenarios, and final predictions.

Matchup to watch when the Lions are on offense:
FB Jon Bradley vs. LB Brian Urlacher

It is essential that the Lions run the ball well in Chicago. Bradley has been a stud as the team's fullback moving over from the defensive side of the football, and there could be another rivalry in the making between Urlacher and a Detroit fullback.

If Bradley is able to have success and get Kevin Jones into a rhythm, Detroit has an excellent shot at securing a victory on the road. If not, Chicago will be able to key in on QB Jon Kitna and shut down a one-dimensional offense.

Matchup to watch when the Lions are on defense:
Detroit's defensive ends vs. Chicago's offensive tackles:
If QB Brian Griese is given time, he will systematically pick apart Detroit's defense. It's almost scary to think what might happen given what Griese was able to accomplish in Philadelphia.

However, if the Lions' ends are able to generate pressure, it will limit the Bears offense, keeping them off the scoreboard while allowing Detroit's own offense to get onto the field.


LB Boss Bailey
Harry How/Getty Images

Matchup to watch when the Bears are on offense:
Chicago's tight ends vs. Detroit's linebackers
The Bears have thrown the ball very well since Griese took over for Rex Grossman at the quarterback position, and the tight end combination of Desmond Clark and Greg Olsen has been a big reason why. Clark is on pace to have the most productive season of his nine-year career, and Olsen has reeled in 13 catches the last three ballgames. Offensive coordinator Ron Turner has been trying to get both of them on the field at the same time as often as possible, and Olsen in particular has been a big part of the red-zone package.

Both SLB Boss Bailey and WLB Ernie Sims are much better players in the box than they are operating in space, so they'll have their hands full Sunday when dropping back into coverage.

Matchup to watch when the Bears are on defense:
CB Trumaine McBride vs. WR Calvin Johnson
With Pro-Bowl cornerback Nathan Vasher (groin) most likely out of the lineup again Sunday, McBride, a seventh-round rookie, will get his second consecutive start opposite Charles Tillman. Look for Tillman to follow WR Roy Williams all over the field, which means McBride will have the unenviable task of covering Johnson, the No. 2-overall draft pick and arguably the most complete receiver to enter the league this decade, the majority of the afternoon. McBride was a three-year starter in the SEC at Ole Miss and has proven that he can play at the highest level, but he doesn't have near the size or speed Johnson possesses.

Both starting safeties, Adam Archuleta and Danieal Manning, have had their troubles this season in coverage, putting even more pressure on Tillman, McBride, and nickelback Ricky Manning Jr. to have a good day against perhaps the deepest receiving corps in the NFL.

The Lions will win this game if ...
... they are able to run the football. If Jones can get on track, the Lions will move the ball and Chicago has no prayer in a shootout with Detroit's offense. If Jones is able to run between 20 and 25 times and break or get near the 100-yard marker, the Lions will keep time of possession reasonable and win the football game. However, if Detroit goes one-dimensional, it will get incredibly ugly.

The Lions will lose this game if ...
... see above. Coupled with the defense being unable to stifle Griese, this game could get ugly very quickly.

The Bears will win this game if ...
... they find a way to uncork Devin Hester. The all-world special-teamer set a franchise record with 314 yards on punt and kick returns, including a 97-yard return of a kickoff for a touchdown, in Week 4 against the Lions. However, the Eagles managed to keep the ball out of Hester's hands by punting out of bounds and pooching high and short on kickoffs, and you can be sure that the Detroit coaching staff will employ those same tactics.

The Bears lead the league in starting field position on offense, but losing the quick-strike threat that Hester provides robs them of their most dangerous weapon.


DE Adewale Ogunleye
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Bears will lose this game if ...
... Kitna is given enough time to throw the football. The Bears have registered 21 sacks this season while the Lions have been sacked a league-high 31 times, which means that DEs Mark Anderson and Adewale Ogunleye should have a lot of success getting after the quarterback Sunday at Soldier Field. DT Tommie Harris had a pair of sacks last week in Philadelphia and leads the team with 6.0 on the year, so he too is licking his chops in preparation for another big day.

With Kitna's poise in the pocket and all of the weapons he possesses on the outside, the Chicago secondary will not be able to contain the likes of Williams and Johnson for very long and needs the defensive line to wreak havoc up front.

FINAL PREDICTIONS
Nate Caminata:
The Lions will have success running the football, but probably not enough. They are improving as a football team, but a win in Chicago will be difficult to come by. Welcome back to the race, Bears fans ...
BEARS 24, LIONS 20

John Crist: The Monsters of the Midway can let it fly Sunday because they'll finally have their bye in Week 9, but getting even at 4-4 before heading into that much-needed week off is paramount. Remember that the Bears had a disappointing letdown at home against Minnesota the week after a big win at Green Bay, so they can't afford to take Detroit lightly after last Sunday's dramatic win in Philadelphia. Head coach Lovie Smith knows that and will have his team ready ...
BEARS 24, LIONS 17

To go back and read Part I of Behind Enemy Lines, where Nate answers five questions from John, Click Here. For Part II, where John answers five questions from Nate, Click Here.

John Crist is the Editor in Chief of BearReport.com. Nate Caminata is the Publisher of RoarReport.com.


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