Bears and Lions. Doesn’t exactly have the same aura as Bears and Packers but in this day the rivalry is just as big, if not bigger. Although the Bears players have taken the high road when asked about their hatred toward the Lions it no secret there is no love lost here.
This Lions bunch has been labeled dirty -- no matter how much fourth-year quarterback Matthew Stafford wants to dance around the terminology. Stafford recently mentioned his teammates play with “passion.”
If in fact they play with passion, maybe the Lions would benefit more if they were instead aggressive.
Maybe it’s a reflection of their head coach, Jim Schwartz. Maybe they just don’t hear the whistle blow. Maybe this or maybe that, but the highlight clips do not lie -- no matter how many times Ndamukong Sue tries to say he “lost his balance.”
When these two teams square off at Soldier Field on Monday night in front of a national audience it’s a good thing the NFL has its “real” officials back. This one has the making of a 12-round slugfest to put it mildly -- or a TKO.
Without further ado here are my bold predictions:
Devin Hester will have a return for a score.
Through the first five games the Bears defense and special teams has scored five touchdowns. Let me rephrase that. The Bears defense has scored five touchdowns, while Devin Hester and the special teams unit have not sniffed the end zone. Look for this stat to change Monday night.
It’s no secret the Lions special teams is atrocious. Earlier this season they became the first team in NFL history to allow a punt return and kickoff return for a score in back-to-back games.
In 12 career games against the Lions, Hester has recorded a pair of return touchdowns, one kickoff (2007) and one punt (2011).
Hester’s return against Detroit last season was the last time he has scored on a return. The score was also at Soldier Field. Look for a big game from the greatest return man of all-time, Monday night.
Calvin Johnson will have better stats than Brandon Marshall.
Johnson is Stafford’s security blanket just as Marshall is to Jay Cutler. The two marquee receivers are also two of the best in the NFL this season and have been since they entered the league. Each also respects the other’s game.
Both have 35 receptions on the season. Johnson has more yards, 558-496, but Marshall has found the end zone more frequently, 3-1.
However, as you will find in my next prediction, Stafford and Johnson will be playing catch-up to the Bears in this one so I have Johnson with better looking numbers for the game.
But in the end it will be Marshall who gets the last word with the win.
Prediction, Johnson 9-149 1 TD; Marshall 7-89.
Bears maul Lions.
The Lions may have saved their season with a come-from-behind win over the overrated Philadelphia Eagles last week, but only momentarily. The Bears are 8-2 under Lovie Smith on Monday nights and are 6-2 after a bye week on Lovie’s watch. Factor in a bitter rivalry game in front of their home crowd and the Bears will roll to a 5-1 record after Monday night.
In both of the Lions wins this season they have needed to make big fourth quarter comebacks. If the Lions fall behind early in this one, this Bears defense will shut out the lights and close the door on the game. At 2-4 and three games behind the Bears in the NFC North, it also could be good night on the Lions season as well.
Prediction: Bears 34, Lions 13 (Johnson with TD in garbage time).
TRAVIS DAVID is a contributor for FOOTBALL NATION and can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @Tdavid_21.