It’s a huge game in the NFC North. Here are five things the Lions (2-3) need to do to beat the Chicago Bears (4-1) at Soldier Field on Monday Night Football.
1. Don’t turn the ball over. The Bears’ defense has scored five touchdowns off opponents turnovers. The forecast is for rain which could make the ball slick, but it will be the same for both teams. Matthew Stafford threw four interceptions last year due to a broken finger and major wind gusts.
2. Score touchdowns early. The Lions’ offense has actually moved the ball well early in games, it just doesn’t seem like it because they’ve mostly had to settle for field goals instead of touchdowns. They have just one first-half touchdown in five games.
3. Detroit’s defensive line must get after quarterback Jay Cutler early and often. The Bears’ offensive line is usually a weak area and the Lions have to take advantage. This is key because with two injured cornerbacks (Jacob Lacey is out and Bill Bentley is doubtful) rookie Jonte Green is expected to get his first start.
4. The run game must continue to play well. At the Eagles last week, the Lions had 138 rushing yards which helped open up the passing game. Mikel Leshoure had 70 yards (4.7 yards per carry) and looked as good as he did in his debut when he hit the 100-yard mark on the nose.
5. Get the ball to Calvin Johnson, perhaps in the first half. It’s not like Matthew Stafford is not trying, but he has to take what defenses give him. Charles Tillman is not going to make this task easier. Johnson and Stafford have not connected for a touchdown in the first five games. Last year at this point they had nine.
Prediction: Lions 24, Bears 20
(I will be signing copies of my book, "100 Things Lions Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die" at a tailgate/book signing party from 5-8 p.m. on Monday at Dino's Lounge on Woodward in Ferndale. Copies of book will be available for $14.95. Tailgate buffet just $10.)