Lions want to end Bears win streak

"We've got two wins stacked up, and all the sudden you could see the confidence in the young guys starting to build a little bit," said veteran Bears' lineman Chris Villarial. "The older guys are leading the way right now. I think there is an attitude adjustment on our team."

CHICAGO BEARS (3-5) at DETROIT LIONS (2-6)
FORD FIELD, DETROIT, MI 1:00PM EST
INJURY REPORT: DETROIT - WR Eddie Drummond (ankle/knee) and WR Charles Rogers (clavicle) are out. CB Rod Babers (shoulder), CB Dré Bly (leg), DE Robert Porcher (hip), WR Bill Schroeder (leg) and CB Jimmy Wyrick (chest) are questionable. LB Barrett Green (toe) and QB Joey Harrington (finger) are probable.
CHICAGO - CB Todd McMillon (hand) is out. WR Marty Booker (ankle), S Mike Green (groin) C Olin Kreutz (ankle), RB Adrian Peterson (ankle), DT Keith Traylor (knee) and S Cameron Worrell (ankle) are questionable.
LAST MEETING: Chicago won 24-16 over Detroit at Soldier Field. Chris Chandler threw two touchdown passes in the win.

(ALLEN PARK) - The Lions will get their second shot at the Chicago Bears in three weeks and this time time they want to come out with a “w.” Detroit has one advantage, while every Lions fans knows about the 18-game road losing streak, the Bears are pulling an 11-game road losing streak of their own into Ford Field on Sunday

Detroit lost to the Bears 24-16 at Soldier Field two weeks ago but righted the ship last week with a 23-13 upset of the Raiders. With the Bears coming into Detroit at just 3-5, the Lions think maybe they can win back-to-back games for the first time in three years.

But the Bears have other ideas, after beating Detroit at home, they followed it up with a win over the San Diego Chargers at Soldier Field and believe they have momentum on their side. They feel that since veteran Chris Chandler, at 38-years old, has taken over for Kordell Stewart as the starter, they are a different team.

“We've got two wins stacked up, and all the sudden you could see the confidence in the young guys starting to build a little bit,"said veteran lineman Chris Villarial. "The older guys are leading the way right now. I think there is an attitude adjustment on our team.”

While the Bears are growing more confident, Lions coach Steve Mariucci was unsure just how much of an advantage playing the Bears twice in three weeks really is.

“I don't know,” said Mariucci when asked if this would make things easier for Detroit. "We are very familiar with them having just played them but I think they’re going to be better because of the addition of some players that were missing. We have to be better, we will be better and so it will be a heck of a game.”

Lions corner Dre' Bly feels Detroit's secondary will use some of the things it took out of the previous meeting. “You have to take away a few things that they did the previous game, because they were successful. We can take some things away from that game and use them this coming up Sunday,” said Bly.

One player who has re-emerged as a leader on the Bears offense is former University of Michigan star Anthony Thomas who rushed for 116 yards last weeek in the Bears 20-7 win over the Chargers.

Chicago however is worried that veteran center Olin Kreuntz's may not be available for this game. Kreuntz suffered a several sprained ankle in the Chargers game and rookie Josh Warner would have to replace him in the interior line. That would be a huge dropoff for the Bears.

While Marty Booker is expected to come back, Chicago has been buoyed by the fine play of rookies Justin Gage and Bobby Wade. Still there's that 11-game losing streak for a single reason; just as the Lions are not good enough to win road games, the Bears are not good enough to win games on the road.

Defending the Bears: Chicago hopes to spread the field in three and four wide packages. But the improbable play of Detroit's secondary last week will give the Bears pause. Newly signed Doug Evans played a strong game, as did rookie Terrence Holt who filled in as the third corner. “[Terrence] was able to step in and make some big plays this past Sunday,” said Lions corner Dre' Bly. With Bly expected back in the lineup Sunday, Chicago may want to rely more on Thomas.

Expect the Bears to ride the "A-Train" just as they did in Chicago two weeks ago, attempting to hold the ball for long stretches at a time and wear down Detroit's defense. The Lions defense must be patient, keeping the Bears offense in front of them and wait for the inevitable mistakes.

The young Bears receivers energized the team at Soldier Field making key catches to move the chains, but Detroit should be more solid against the three wides and four wides with the presence of Evans, Otis Smith, Bly and Holt. Evans, while not expecting to start, does want to contribute. “I don't know [if I'm going to start]. I'm day by day, just waiting to see how things are going to work out.”

Lions Attack: When the Lions get the ball, look for them to go downfield more than they have in the past. While Mikhael Ricks will likely get the start at tight end, Detroit will go with rookie Casey Fitzsimmons on as many snaps as they do Ricks who has dropped several balls of late.

Az-Zahir Hakim led the way with five catches, but has not displayed the breakaway speed that made him such a threat with the St. Louis Rams. The Lions hope that Scotty Anderson, who plays well at home, will be the deep threat he has shown he can be on occasion.

Detroit was able to run the ball more effectively against Oakland than they had in the recent past. Olandis Gary and Shawn Bryson combined for 99 yards rushing, giving the Lions Joey Harrington some much needed support. Detroit got a big play from Cory Schlesinger who hauled in a 26-yard TD pass from Harrington. Detroit will need contributions like that from role players who need to step up in this very winnable game.

Harrington was able to keep his mistakes to a minimum, throwing just one interception and gave the credit to playing on a short field most of the game. Detroit's punter Nick Harris deserves credit for a strong game against Oakland and field position will be important in this one.

In the end it could come down to a battle of two of the premier field goal kicker in the NFC, Detroit's Jason Hanson and Chicago's Paul Edinger. Edinger had an extra point blocked by James Hall in their first meeting, his only miss of the season.

Mariucci singled out Hall for his improved play. “He’s improving each year, he’s having a good year, he’s a worker, he’s available every practice and that’s the key because he’s here working each day. He’s been lucky enough to stay away from the injuries, he’s a (University of) Michigan guy and he’s really coming into his own.”

Edinger, the former Michigan State alumnus, has hurt the Lions several times, most notably his 50 plus yard field goal that kept Detroit out of the playoffs in 1999 -- leading to the hiring of Matt Millen and the sweeping of the Detroit front office. Edinger was also at the scene of the infamous Marty Mornhinweg "take the wind” game.

Hanson has not missed this season and his consistency and accuracy from long distance is a major plus for Detroit.

PICK Chicago sports a 11-game road losing streak and is not likely to break it this week, they just aren't that good. While Detroit isn't very good either, they play better at home and the presence of Hanson, they should be able to manufacture enough points to add to Chicago's road losing streak.

Detroit 12 - Chicago 9


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