Week 17: Chicago Bears At Detroit Lions
- QuarterbackThe Bears kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a win over the Cardinals and they must get a victory in the season finale to remain alive. Jay Cutler has never had much help from his receivers (aside from Brandon Marshall) or the offensive line, but his performance has not been what was expected. Cutler has a magical arm, but he lacks consistency.Quarterback Matthew Stafford has been slinging the ball all over the filed but the Lions have been losing week after week. Stafford has completed 60 percent of his passes and has thrown for 4,695 yards, but he has thrown 16 interceptions. The Lions make too many mistakes and so does their quarterback.
- OffenseMatt Forte had to come out of the Bears’ Week 16 win over the Cardinals with an ankle injury. Marshall is a dominating receiver who can use his strength and receiving skills to make big plays. The Bears have not been able mount a consistent offense all season, primarily because the offensive line has nearly every week.This has to be the Calvin Johnson show for the Lions, who is looking to top the 2,000-yard mark in receiving yards. The rest of the team may be ready to start their vacations as soon as the game ends, but Johnson is ready to extend his season yardage record that he set in the Week 16 loss to the Falcons. Mikel Leshoure is not fancy at running back, but he packs a punch when he carries the ball.
- DefenseThe defense is still the strength of the Bears, but this unit has not played as well as it did in the first half of the season. Middle linebacker Brian Urlacher has been out with a calf injury but he may be able to return for this game. Lance Briggs is the heart and soul of this unit and is an outstanding tackler. Look for defensive end Julius Peppers to excel in this game.The Lions have plenty of talent on defense, but they rarely play up to it. The Lions rank 12th overall on defense and a respectable 13th against the pass, but they are not the kind of team that can stop opponents when the game is on the line. Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has harassed Cutler in the past and middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch is a solid tackler.
- Special TeamsDevin Hester has had a disappointing year as a returner. The Bears’ inability to mount a consistent offense means that they have needed production from their superstar returner, but he has slumped this season. The Bears are going with backup kicker Olindo Mare since Robbie Gould is on injured reserve.The Lions punt and kickoff coverage teams have been poor all season. They lack organization and the effort has often been a problem. Placekicker Jason Hanson has not been slowed by age, making 31-of-35 FG attempts. Returner Stefan Logan has made one bonehead decision after another this season.
The Lions have little to play for, but they are trying to get Johnson his 2,000 receiving yards. That could be enough to motivate them to end the season with a win against a team that it would love to beat.