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NFL commentary: Bears need to bring ‘A’ game vs. Lions

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT
Bears defensive tackle Henry Melton (69) grabs hold of Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford during the teams' matchup in Detroit last December, which the Bears won 26-24.

For all the experts and handicappers who saw the Steelers game as the classic trap for the Bears, you were off by a week.

At this point in the season, the Steelers just weren’t good enough to beat the Bears, who proved it Sunday night. Plus, the Bears still had plenty to prove on their first road trip of the year to a perennial playoff power. This week is a different story.

At 3-0, the Bears have control of the NFC North. They’ve had their way with the Lions for the most part in recent years. And the week after facing the Lions, they return to Soldier Field for what could prove to be their toughest test of the season – a battle with the also currently undefeated New Orleans Saints, one of the real NFC powers.

Matt Stafford is a Pro Bowl quarterback who, after a poor 2012, is playing at a high level again. Both he and Cutler have six touchdown passes. Stafford has thrown two interceptions, Cutler three.

The big difference is production.

Stafford averages more than 100 yards per game passing more than Cutler with 1,020 total yards to Cutler’s 693. Cutler has completed passes to only five different receivers, while Stafford has found 11.

Of course, Calvin Johnson, aka Megatron, is the man you fear the most, and he’s off to a nice start with 17 catches for 268 yards and three touchdowns.

Brandon Pettigrew is back from a serious knee injury that ended his 2012 season, and rookie Joseph Fauria already has two touchdowns backing him up at tight end.

The big question is the status of Reggie Bush. With 30 rushes for 115 yards and seven catches for 145 yards and one touchdown in the Lions’ first two games, Bush was held out of the Redskins game in Week 3 with a sore knee and has said he’ll be ready for the Bears.

Joique Bell has been almost as good in relief of Bush with 34 carries and 119 rushing yards, three touchdowns, and 14 catches for 177 yards.

Defense is where the Lions are a bit sketchy, but not up front, where Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley are the best defensive tackle duo in the league.

Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah, the fifth choice overall in the 2013 draft, already has 2˝ sacks, and an old friend, Izzy Idonije, along with Willie Young, will bring heat off the ends.

The back seven are where teams attack the Lions. While DeAndre Levy and Stephen Tulloch are two of the top three tacklers on the club, they are undersized at linebacker.

With Chris Houston at corner and Louis Delmas and Glover Quin at the safeties, the Lions’ secondary is still not great.

Make no mistake – the Bears are the better team. But if they don’t bring their “A” game, they could wake up after 60 minutes without knowing what hit them.

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