Tale Of The Tape: Chicago Bears At Detroit Lions
- QuarterbackThrough the first three weeks of the season, the marriage between Jay Cutler and head coach Marc Trestman is working out quite nicely. Cutler has not been perfect, but he has been quite effective at avoiding mistakes that led to interceptions and sacks in the past. Cutler has one of the strongest arms in the league and he is putting that arm on display at key moments in the fourth quarter.The Lions have always believed that Matthew Stafford had more than enough ability to become one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He has the size, arm strength and quick release to get the ball downfield in an instant and he is making better decisions this year. Stafford threw for 385 yards in the Week Three win at Washington, and looked comfortable throughout the game.
- OffenseGive credit to general manager Phil Emery for upgrading the offensive line and giving Cutler the weapons he needs to be successful. Matt Forte is proving to be one of the best dual-threat running backs in the league. Brandon Marshall has dominating size and a desire to catch the football. Tight end Martellus Bennett is a credible red zone threat.Reggie Bush (sprained knee) did not play against Washington, but he should return here. His speed gives the Lions a breakaway threat out of the backfield that hard-working Joique Bell cannot. Wide receiver Calvin Johnson is simply the best receiver in the game because he will not be denied the ball. Nate Burleson's absence (broken arm) should mean more of an opportunity for tight end Brandon Pettigrew.
- DefenseThe Bears still have the ability to take the ball away from their opponents like few other teams in the NFL. They had five against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week Three, including two that were returned for touchdowns. Linebacker Lance Briggs is a non-stop tackling machine but the loss of defensive tackle Henry Melton (ACL tear) will hurt badly.The Lions make mistakes on the defensive side of the ball, but they come to play with a nasty attitude. Opponents are going to play with just a bit of fear in their hearts when they know they will see Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley across the line from them. Stephen Tulloch is an underrated linebacker while cornerback Chris Houston had seven tackles and an interception against the Redskins.
- Special TeamsThe Bears have the ability to turn the game around with special teams. Robbie Gould is perhaps the most consistent kicker in the league and he excels from long distance. Explosive Devin Hester is back in his preferred role as return specialist and that should pay off for Chicago in this game.The Lions tend to struggle with their coverage and containment of opponents special teams and that will hurt in this game. David Akers was one of the most dangerous kickers in the game during his prime with Philadelphia, but he no longer has the consistency and that could cost Detroit badly.
The Bears have three straight wins to open the season, but they still have not played their best game. Both teams have explosive offenses and the team that limits the big plays from the opponent’s passing game will likely come away with the win. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor