Do or die. Win or go home. Season on the line. No matter how you want to say it, the fact remains the same. The Chicago Bears need to beat the Detroit Lions on Sunday and get a little help from their good friends up in Green Bay in order to capture the second NFC wild card spot. The Chicago Bears need to make sure that they do what they need to do in Detroit because if they spend too much time worrying about the Minnesota game, the bottom dwelling Lions may give them more than they can handle.
Chicago Bears fans might look at Detroit’s terrible record and expect this weeks game to look like the one this past Sunday in Arizona, however I would be shocked if that was the case. Since Detroit has been eliminated from playoff contention for over a month, and has had very little to cheer about this year, the chance for them to keep their division rival out of the playoffs by beating them in week 17 is an opportunity they won’t let slip away easily. Detroit will do everything in their power to be the reason that the Chicago Bears are watching the playoffs from their couch, just like them. The Bears need to make sure that they are ready for the Lions to play their best football, because if not they could be in trouble.
In addition to making sure they don’t overlook the Lions, there are several other keys to this game for the Chicago Bears. Priority number one for the Bears must be to shut down Calvin Johnson. This is not an easy task, but the Bears have to make sure that they force Matt Stafford to beat them by throwing the ball to his second and third options, since three of the Lions top four receivers are out due to injury. If the Bears are able to contain Johnson as well as they did when these teams met earlier in the year, the Lions will be hard pressed to score points. If you need proof of this, look no further than the aforementioned match-up earlier this year when the Bears shut the Lions out for about 59 minutes, until a touchdown in mop up time put the Lions on the board.
Unless the Bears are able to suddenly find a solid complement to Brandon Marshall on offense, they will have to rely heavily on their defense to not only prevent the Lions from scoring but also to create offense through turnovers. It was well documented during the Bears 7-1 start how great the defense was at creating turnovers and turning them into points, and once the defensive scores stopped coming the Bears stopped winning. This is a disturbing trend for Bears fans because defensive scores are not something that can be easily controlled. Given the fact that the Lions have struggled with turnovers this season, the Bears should find themselves with some opportunities to make plays on the defensive side of the ball in order to help out their offense.
It’s hard to believe that the Bears do not control their playoff destiny going into the final week of the season after their great start, however they find themselves at the mercy of the Green Bay Packers. Luckily for the Bears, the Packers are playing for a first round bye so they will be playing all of their starters in order to make sure they beat the Vikings. It won’t be easy for the Bears to escape Ford Field with a victory, but if they can take advantage of the Lions mistakes and contain Calvin Johnson, they should be able to get the win.