Detroit passes to set up run team, or do they?

Detroit passes to set up run team, or do they?
October 22, 2012, 4:05 pm
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The Detroit Lions are heading into their Monday Night tilt against the Bears ranked as the second-best offense in the NFL. The New England Patriots are No. 1, averaging 436.1 total yards per game with the Lions a close second averaging 419.6 total yards. Detroit completes its aerial assault at a 63.2 clip with roughly 46.2 attempts per game, finishing a contest throwing for about 320 yards per contest.

But what does it mean?

Actually, it means nothing when facing the Bears, but it does prove the Lions are powerful offensively in a pass-happy league. Detroit will attempt to run the ball tonight against the Bears, but Chicagos defense dictates the Lions try to do so. There are three reasons why:

1. The Lions are a league-leader in three wide receiver personnel groupings with Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, and Titus Young as the culprits--it forces Nickel defense. Thus, Bears linebacker Nick Roach will come out and cornerback D.J. Moore will substitute into the game versus this grouping.

2. The Bears live in the Tampa 2 defensive world, which includes two high safeties in Major Wright and Chris Conte playing the deep halves of the field. Cornerback D.J. Moore will be lined up over Detroits third wide receiver, which will be outside the tackle box. Here is the chess game for true football fans where the Bears must win: Can the Bears stop Detroits run game with six in the box?

Let me explain again because it is 6-on-6 (five offensive linemen tight end) with Detroits seventh guy running back Mikel Leshoure running the football. If you count Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford on the bootleg game, Chicago is out-manned by two guys. Stafford can make life difficult for Bears defensive ends Julius Peppers and Isreal Idonije closing down on inside runs if Stafford fakes it, then breaks contain for pass.

3. Detroit will also go shotgun running the football inside and outside, and then will run play action off it, trying to work the middle of the field to put Urlacher and Briggs in a bind hitting the Tampa 2 zone behind the linebackers in front of the Bears safeties.

It will be something to watch unfold during the game. Chicago has not been challenged by other teams yet this season against this grouping because their opponents have been down with wide receiver injuries or, quite frankly, simply not as strong overall. The Bears come into this Monday Night matchup at No. 1 in the NFL at stopping the run. They've only given up 65.8 yards a game while allowing only one rushing touchdown all year. The Lions feel they have their matchups because the numbers are in their favor and will look to challenge the Bears' defensive stats early, then rely on their powerful passing attack late in the game. Tonight's matchup should be a good one.