Sometimes, I love being wrong. This is one of those cases. The Bears went up to Lambeau Field and beat the Packers in a game between two back-up quarterbacks. Luckily, Josh McCown actually deserves to pick up a check every week while Seneca Wallace does not. McCown managed the game perfectly, and my lone Bears player to watch, Matt Forte, dominated on the ground yet again against a stellar Packers’ run defense. I won’t go as far as saying that if Shea McClellin does nothing else in his career as a Chicago Bear, at least he gave the Bears a shot at winning the NFC North this season, but it could be huge going forward. It may even give McClellin some confidence in the coming weeks. With news that Aaron Rodgers is out for at least three weeks with a broken collarbone, this divisional race may come down to the Bears and Lions.
Before I get to the Lions, I want to get something off of my chest. THE BEARS DID NOT GET “LUCKY” ON MONDAY NIGHT.
–The Bears hurt Aaron Rodgers. It wasn’t like he sprained his ankle a week ago, or he was running on Monday and somehow came up limping. McClellin broke his stupid collarbone. Period.
–The Bears were without their quarterback (Cutler), an All-Pro outside linebacker (Briggs), and one of the best pass rushing defensive tackles in the NFL (Melton). Charles Tillman also was not 100 percent. Had the Packers one, I bet there wouldn’t be any “lucky” discussions.
–Does Rodgers play defense?
Let’s move on now. Speaking of the Lions, those hooligans are in town today. The Lions are coming off of a big come from behind win against the Cowboys and then a bye week, and their offense is very dangerous. Detroit’s offensive line is giving the ever-pudgy Matthew Stafford just enough time to find Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew, and Kris Durham, and as usual, the Lions defensive line continues to pressure the quarterback. Ndamukong Suh’s stats don’t show it, but he has been flat out dominant this year, and Nick Fairley is that much better with teams giving Suh the majority of their focus. Given that their tackles have been so good, no one can say the same about their ends. Teams have been running to the edges and averaging more than 5 yards per carry. Today is going to be a battle on the Lakefront, and after Chicago’s big win in Green Bay, this has the potential to be the game of the week across the whole NFL.
College Football Recap
Going back to Thursday, there were three great college football games. Baylor hosted Oklahoma, Oregon traveled down to Stanford, and LSU made the short flight to Tuscaloosa. In a way, all of the games were disappointing. Baylor crushed the Sooners, and the Cardinal dominated Oregon for three quarters. In the grand finale, Alabama obliterated LSU and seems like the clear favorite to win the national championship.
Johnny Manziel had another unreal performance. He continues to impress everyone, and with Oregon’s loss and FSU’s blowout, it seems like he may be inching toward a second straight Heisman trophy.
It should be a perfect November day for football. Temperatures will stay in the 40’s and the skies will be totally clear. Wind may be a small factor.
Chris Mortensen reported on Monday that Jay Cutler (groin) would likely start today, and he was right. Cutler is back. The aforementioned Shea McClellin, however, tweaked his hamstring in practice on Wednesday and is doubtful. Joe Anderson (chest/groin) was put on injured reserve during the week, so he is done for the remainder of the year. Patrick Mannelly will miss today’s game (calf), and that is very rare for him. On the other side of the field, WR Nate Burleson remains out (arm) for the Lions. DE Ziggy Ansah (ankle), Starting RT Corey Hilliard (knee) and CB Bill Bentley (knee) are all doubtful. RB Reggie Bush (knee), WR Calvin Johnson (knee), and S Louis Delmas (knee) are probable.
Did you know?
The Bears’ offensive line has only committed one false start this year. The Giants, Colts, and Dolphins are tied for second with four.
We’re in the home stretch. I’d like to finish above .500 for the year. To turn it around, give me the Broncos in a blowout against the Charges, 49ers to crush the Panthers, Saints to knock off the Cowboys, and for two upsets, the Ravens over the Bengals and the Falcons to top the Seahawks. (18-18 on the year)
Players to Watch
Calvin Johnson- Once again, Calvin Johnson is having a monster season. He has 821 yards on just 47 receptions, which comes out to 17.5 yards per catch. He has 7 touchdowns, too. In the last meeting with Detroit, the Bears held him to only 44 yards on 4 receptions. It would be absolutely huge to hold Johnson to that again, because anytime you can take a team’s best player out the game it greatly benefits your chances of winning, obviously. It won’t be easy and I’m not counting on it (thanks a lot, Chris Conte).
Reggie Bush- Everyone now knows that the Bears’ run defense is awful, so I expect Reggie Bush to get a lot of touches today, on the ground and through the air. It won’t be as easy for Bush this time on the Soldier Field sod, as it always seems to negate some speed and cutting ability for the shiftier players in football. Bush has only gone for more than 92 yards once this year, and that was against the Bears. Bush and Johnson are the Lions two most explosive players, and so with just some containment, Detroit’s offense could struggle.
Julius Peppers- Maybe it’s a night game thing. In Pittsburgh, Julius Peppers had a fumble recovery for a touchdown, and in Green Bay, he had an interception and a sack. If it is, he will probably struggle today, since it is a noon start. However, his only other sack this year came against Detroit. In fact, he has 12 sacks and 6 forced fumbles in 11 career games against the Lions. As I said, Shea McClellin won’t play today, but even if he had, I wasn’t going to predict that he would have another great game. The Bears need Peppers today to slow down Detroit’s well-oiled offensive machine. A sack or two and a solid game in run defense, where the Bears really struggled the last time these two teams met, will do the trick. Keep in mind that Detroit’s offensive line has only given up 10 sacks this year, and that is the best in football.
This is yet another game that can go either way. The Lions got the best of the Bears back in September, but the Bears got crushed in the turnover battle and they only lost by 8. Detroit is a solid team this year. Proof of that is the fact that they haven’t Detroit Lion’d a game…yet. Ndamukong Suh hasn’t tried to commit homicide so far and Jim Schwartz hasn’t pissed down his leg up to now. For Chicago, it sure would be nice to win this one with three straight winnable contests ahead. The good feelings from the win in Green Bay with the addition of the excitement of Cutler’s return and a little homefield advantage mixed in is the difference today. Bears 33-30. (5-3 on the year)
-Brian Ociepka (@bjociepka1)