Ray Carlin/Icon SMI - Hey you! Up there! Whats up with my knee?
When the Lions went into the bye, they had a punter and kicker. As they put the final touches on their gameplan for the most important game of the season so far...they might not have either anymore.
Apparently, Jason Hanson tweaked his knee and didn't look like he'd be able to play...the Lions figured, "Hey, that's ok, we can survive one week with Ryan Donahue kicking..." And apparently, while practicing his place kicking...Donahue got hurt.
The Lions have since signed a backup punter...so Hanson will probably have to go...
This is Lions luck in full swing.
On the plus side, Chicago Bears DE Julius Peppers, who has already knocked Matthew Stafford out for multiple games once before, is still nursing a sore knee and is questionable for this Sunday's game.
In the first game, with an ailing Peppers, the Lions won 24-13...and truly, it didn't feel that close at the end. The Lions will be missing Jahvid Best this time though...
This game will have a lot of the same players, but could be potentially without some important pieces on both sides. The Bears may be missing Peppers and their starting RT Gabe Carimi. The Lions will be without Jahvid Best...
This is by far the biggest game of the year so far. The Lions finished the first half 6-2...losing two of their final three games. I've already lamented the last time the Lions were 6-2...this game may not be "MUST WIN," but I think it's pretty close. If the Lions can manage a win this Sunday, they'll be 7-2 with a season sweep of the Bears who'd be 5-4...in all reality that's a three game lead in the race for a wild card playoff berth. A loss puts both teams at 6-3...and the schedule going forward for the Lions is tougher as the season closes.
Chicago Defense vs Detroit Offense
In my mind this all depends on if or how well Julius Peppers plays. Jeff Backus has routinely had big problems with Peppers and Stafford tends to break to pieces when drilled into the ground by him...
Beyond that, Charles Tillman, the Bears best CB is no match for Megatron. Calvin Johnson should own anybody in the Bears secondary and if the Lions can continue to get production out of Titus Young, Brandon Pettigrew, Tony Scheffler and Nate Burleson...and they can average even 3 yards a rush with Morris, Williams and the return of Kevin Smith...then this is a big win for the Lions.
As long as they can keep Peppers off of Stafford's shoulders.
Chicago Offense vs Detroit Defense
Now most people are going to say that this is the Detroit D vs Matt Forte show...and there's a lot of validity to that. If the Lions can't stop Forte...I'm pretty sure that Mike Martz will still be prone to passing the ball. Martz has historically had real trouble running a balanced attack...he almost always errs toward throwing the ball again and again and again.
Now granted in the Bears recent resurgence Forte has become an incredible weapon, if the Lions can stop him early, most likely Martz will go back to his firing ways...which would lead Cutler directly in the sights of the Detroit defensive line. The Lions pressured Cutler constantly in that last game, sacking him three times.
But until Martz gives up on the run...I'm still scared of Forte.
80% of the predictions I've read so far on this game have the Bears winning a close one. I think this game hangs on two things...does Peppers play--and how well--and can the Lions stop Forte. I think the Lions can handle both...so, as much as I hate doing it, I'm going to throw the jinx on the Leos this week.