Game Scout: Lions at Bears

Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

Detroit Lions (5-3) at Chicago Bears (5-3)
Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at Soldier Field, Chicago - TV: FOX
*TV announcers: Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston
*Keys to the game: After missing just one game, Jay Cutler (groin) could play Sunday, but the Lions will see largely the same scheme regardless of who starts if Josh McCown's win at Green Bay on Monday is a true measure of Marc Trestman's offense. RB Matt Forte averages 119.6 yards from scrimmage per game in his career against Detroit and sets the table for the Bears' jumbo-jet receiving package with Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and TE Martellus Bennett. The Lions are determined to exploit the Bears' poor run defense. Playing without WLB Lance Briggs, the Bears have been vulnerable to the run with two rookies at linebacker. If the Lions can establish the ground game, it will open the field for Calvin Johnson and the passing attack. Bears S Chris Conte has been an easy target, and QB Matt Stafford will attack him when he's in man coverage no matter who Conte draws. Slot WR Nate Burleson (arm) could be one ideal target if he's able to return. Without Burleson, tight ends caught eight passes against Chicago in Week 4.
*Matchup to watch - Lions DT Ndamukong Suh vs. Bears RG Kyle Long -- Suh abused Long in Week 4, after much of the game-week building centered on Bears GM Phil Emery's comments that Long was drafted to deal with Suh. He had two sacks, two hits on Cutler, two tackles for loss and one forced fumble. Long has improved dramatically since that game.
*Player spotlight - Lions RB Reggie Bush: The Bears were gouged by the Packers on the ground Monday, even without serious threat of downfield passing, and Bush collected 173 yards from scrimmage -- 139 rushing -- in the first meeting.
*Fast facts: Stafford reached 15,000 career passing yards (15,424) in his previous start -- 53rd game -- becoming the fastest in NFL history to do so. ... Marshall has a TD reception in five consecutive home games.
The Lions are programmed for video-game offense and are accustomed to needing to score from start to finish to compensate for a spotty defense. They scored 27 second-quarter points against Chicago in the first meeting and QB Matt Stafford can smash the Bears' secondary if RB Reggie Bush gets in rhythm early.
*Our pick: Lions 27-23