The issue in Sunday’s Bears game against the Detroit Lions is not really the state of Jay Cutler’s fast-healing groin. That is a franchise-grade question that overhangs the remaining half-season, but the fact is that the Bears could defeat the Detroit Lions with Josh McCown under center.
The offense with McCown scored 51 points in six quarters against one defense (Washington) on par with the Lions and a second (Green Bay) that is better. McCown’s passer rating (100.2) is higher than Cutler’s (91.7), but that can reasonably be discounted; McCown has never had a season with a passer rating higher than 75.0, which points to some lesser performances coming as teams get film on him.
Cutler will be in no greater risk from the Lions, who aren’t suddenly somehow going to start trying extra hard because one big takedown could take him out. The Lions do that anyway.
Best guess is that Cutler will be watched with jaded eyes by team medical staffers, and he will be under strictest orders that if there is a twinge or pull that doesn’t feel right, sit down. He likely won’t take himself out, but if he trots off the field with anything but his usual gait, he sits.
The Bears can’t start McCown and have Cutler as the No. 2. If he’s able to play as a backup, he’s able to start, so this is unfolding as it should given Cutler’s stunningly quick recovery from an extremely painful injury.
The Lions can score points in profusion. They average 40 more yards per game than the Bears and have scored virtually the same number of points on offense as the Bears through eight games.
But they have not won in Chicago since 2007 and in the past 11 games vs. the Bears have scored more than 24 points only in the Sept. 29 game this year in Detroit.
For all of the Reggie Bush pyrotechnics, the Bears win that game without Cutler turning the ball over personally four times. The offensive line is protecting well, and Cutler has improved almost weekly as this season has gone along, learning from his mistakes.
He won’t make enough of them for a Lions win this time.
Bears 34, Lions 24
Moon's 2013 record: 6-2