The Bears and Lions face off at Soldier Field Sunday in a bid for first-place in the NFC North. CSN's Chris Boden breaks down the three keys to the game:
Long vs. Kong
Kyle Long gets his first taste of in-season rematches. Among the teams with fewer sacks than the Bears' 14? The Lions, with 13. But their disruption along the line of scrimmage belies that number, and one quarter of the 12 sacks allowed by the Bears' offensive line came at Ford Field six weeks ago. And the biggest hell-raiser was Ndamukong Suh. He didn't necessarily dominate the Bears rookie, but the plays he made had a huge impact. With Jay Cutler returning from a significant injury, the job the line does on Kong (and fellow tackle Nick Fairley) becomes more important. With stunts, gaps, and double teams, it's not necessarily all on Kyle Long with every single snap, but Chapter Two in what could be a lengthy annual war in the trenches takes on added significance, considering what's on the line with this three-way tie in the NFC North and the strength of schedules down the stretch.
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The Bush Rush
Reggie Bush ate up and spit out the Bears rush defense in Week 4 on the Motown turf. That's the game where the missed tackles reared their ugly head, and the Bears defense hasn't fixed it since. They must find a way to cut down his 139 yards on the ground and another 34 receiving. Unfortunately, that falls a lot on improved discipline from rookie linebackers Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene. Shoud they be in this situation this soon? Probably not. But here they are, and the future is now for two members of last spring's draft class. That's assuming Charles Tillman's aching knee can recover after six days to do his usual job on Calvin Johnson. With Nate Burleson and Ryan Broyles coming back from injuries, Johnson and Bush are the two weapons the defense must contain. A little help up front from the D-Line might not be a bad thing, either.
While the Bears look to keep their recuperating quarterback "clean" and try to do enough to clean up their defensive issues against the run, the special teams simply can not afford to lose its matchup, which happened in these teams' first encounter. They'll look to get clean snaps from experienced long-snapping fill-in Jeremy Cain for sensational senior snapper Patrick Mannelly, but mistakes like last week's blown block on a blocked punt and whiffed recovery of an onsides kick could be a difference in what many expect to be a high-scoring, close game.