The Detroit Lions head home after their first road win since Nov. 4 of last year. They take on the undefeated Bears Sunday afternoon in a battle for 1st place of the NFC North.
The Bears have won the last 9 of 10 meetings between the two rivals. The one win for the Lions came as a host to Monday Night Football in 2011.
The Lions went 0-2 in the two division meetings last year. The Bears took the first game on Monday Night Football 13-7. At Ford Field the Lions fell again in a nail-biter, 26-24, to end their disappointing season.
The Lions and Bears are both coming off of key injuries this past week. The Lions will have to do without wide receiver Nate Burleson and defensive end Jason Jones but in exchange get Reggie Bush back. Receivers Ryan Broyles will take on a much bigger role this week as he moves to the number two receiver slot. Ends Willie Young and Israel Idonije will get additional playing time as they replace Jones.
Idonije, an ex-Bear, does not want to make a big deal about facing his old team.
“(It’s) like going against anybody else,” Idonije said. “It’s not even about my old team. That’s the furthest thing on my mind. It’s just about having production against this team that I’m facing this week, here, now, in the present moment and I want to win my matchups.”
As for the Bears they lost Pro Bowl defensive tackle Henry Melton for the season suddenly making their interior line a weakness. 25-year-old Nate Collins received a little playing time in the first three games this season, but this will be his first career NFL start.
The Bears have two studs at cornerback with Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman. Last year versus the tandem wide receiver Calvin Johnson only managed eight receptions for 106 yards.
Tillman is questionable for Sunday but is crucial to the success of the Bears defense. He is one of the true lockdown corners in the NFL, and at 32-years-old he has shown no signs of slowing down. Tillman forced an unheard of 10 fumbles last season. This season he already has two interceptions.
The Lions will impress at home. Remember Jahvid Best on Monday Night just two years ago. Look for Reggie Bush to emulate that success as the Cover 2 scheme used by the Bears is vulnerable to the screen pass. Don’t expect any 88-yard runs to the house though.
The loss of Henry Melton is a huge deal. Now with no real threat from the interior the Lions o-line can focus on slowing down pass-rusher Julius Peppers off the edge.
Lions win 27-23.