Preps Talk

Bears-Lions preview: Chicago's ball

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Bears-Lions preview: Chicago's ball

The Bears have won seven of the last eight games against the Detroit Lions but they have not always ruled with offense.

Chicago special teams and defense accounted for nearly as many return yards (213) in the offense (216) in the Bears 37-13 win in Soldier Field last November. The Bears piled up 463 yards in week one of 2010.

But 117 of that came on two Matt Forte TD catch-and-run plays, and the Bears needed the good fortune of Calvin Johnson failing to complete an apparent winning touchdown catch in the end zone. Game two was won 24-20 in Detroit with a winning TD catch by Brandon Manumaleuna and two fourth-quarter stops in Chicago territory.

The Bears scored 48 and 37 points in the two 2009 victories but Detroit outgained the Bears 747 to 694 in the two.

How good the Chicago offense really is at this point of 2012 will begin to be answered starting Monday night and against a front four that includes first-round picks at tackle (Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley).

This will be one heck of a challenge against this front, said offensive coordinator Mike Tice. Anybody that plays against this front has a challenge, for the fact that they can take over a game. We have to go out and have answers, as many as we can.

The Bears are No. 2 in the NFL with 29.8 points per game but that includes five defensive touchdowns over the past three games.

Detroit went into the weekend ranked ninth allowing 324 yards per game but 24th in points-against. Like the Bears, however, not all of the points are reflective of a weak defense. The Tennessee Titans scored 44 point on the Lions but got touchdowns on a punt return, kickoff return and fumble return.

Cutler dominance

The Bears traded for and invested in Jay Cutler to be a true franchise quarterback, which GM Phil Emery and coach Lovie Smith believe Cutler has become. He most assuredly has played like one against the Lions.

Cutler has played seven career games, six as a Bear, against the Lions, all but game one last year a win. He has thrown 10 touchdown passes vs. one interception, netted 1,415 yards and posted a passer rating of 105.0.

He registered ratings of 108.3 and 117.0 in the 2010 games but declined to 99.6 and then 68.5 in the games last year as Detroits front of Kyle Vanden Bosch, Suh, Fairley and Cliff Avril sacked him a total of five times in the two games.

They get after the quarterback, Cutler said. I think what they have is not only guys on the outside, but those two inside can get a push. Whenever you feel pressure on the outside and you step up and theyre getting a push in there, theres not a lot of room to operate.

Forte has averaged 5 yards per carry against Detroit, but finished with a modest 64 yards on 18 carries in the game-two win in Soldier Field last year.

The overall is that the Detroit defense has played the Bears progressively better over the past two years.

Secondary plans

Where the Lions have struggled has been in pass defense, with injuries at cornerback. The return from knee surgery of safety Louis Delmas was a major boost for the secondary but the game, like most, will be decided by the play of the lines.

The Bears will be without No. 2 wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, out with a broken hand. But they get Earl Bennett back from his hand injury, although Bennett has never scored in six Detroit games and has a total of 18 catches. Brandon Marshall has faced the Lions twice in his career, with a gaudy 19 catches but also none for scores.

The Bears defensive strategy and mindset is to stop the run with the objective of making an opposing offense one-dimensional. That is precisely the plan of the Lions, take Forte away and force Cutler to throw to a weakened receiver group.

We have a lot of talent up front, Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said. When we play well up front it tends to trickle down to the rest of our defense. I think you saw that last week with Philadelphia. We did a good job of stopping the run and we also put pressure on the passer.

VOTE: Viewers' Choice Game Of The Week

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NBC Sports Chicago

VOTE: Viewers' Choice Game Of The Week

Who wants it more?

We are putting High School Lites, Chicagoland's top prep sports show, in the hands of area football fans in our "Viewers' Choice Game of the Week." Fans will get the chance to pick one game that the @NBCSPreps crew will cover on Friday night. We will send our cameras to the game that gets the most votes; highlights and postgame reaction of that game will appear on that night's "High School Lites" broadcast at 11 p.m. — just after Chicago White Sox baseball. The show also live streams at www.nbcsportschicago.com/watchlive. High School Lites will also have broadcast replays at 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. the following Saturday. This week we spotlight some Indiana vs. Illinois border wars:

Gary (West Side) at Woodstock, 7 p.m.

Hammond (HS) at Reavis, 7 p.m.

Hammond (Gavit) at St. Ignatius, 7:30 p.m.  

Poll opens Monday at 12 p.m. and closes Thursday at 4 p.m. Here is what fans need to do to vote:

— Follow @NBCSPreps on Twitter.
— Note the "pinned Tweet" atop the @NBCSPreps feed. Vote for the game you want us to cover.
— Spread the word! 

We will make an announcement on @NBCSPreps just after 4 p.m. Thursday with the official results of which game will be covered. And as a reminder, be sure to follow @NBCSPreps for updates on the "Viewers' Choice Game of the week," along with other high school sports news, scores and highlights this season.

Power Rankings: #4 - Batavia

Power Rankings: #4 - Batavia

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Batavia

Head coach: Dennis Piron

Assistant coaches: Matt Holm, Billy Colamatteo, Sean Anderson, PJ White, Dan Cadena, Adam Lester, Steve Bailey, Alvin Cole, Shane Holl and Gary Urwiler

How they fared in 2017: 13-1 (5-1 Upstate Eight River Conference). Batavia made the 7A state playoff field and defeated Glenbard North, Wheaton North, Lincoln-Way West and Benet Academy. They went on to defeat Lake Zurich in the state title game to capture the 7A state championship.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Lemont

Aug. 31 vs Naperville North

Sept. 7 vs Lake Park

Sept. 14 @ Glenbard North

Sept. 21 vs Wheaton Warrenville South

Sept. 28 vs Geneva

Oct. 5 @ St. Charles East

Oct. 12 vs St. Charles North

Oct. 19 @ Wheaton North

[MORE: 89 Days to Kickoff - St. Charles East]

Biggest storyline: Can the Bulldogs, winners of state titles in 2013 and 2017, get back to state and claim another 7A title?

Names to watch this season: LB Luke Weerts (North Dakota State) and LB Michael Jansey Jr. (Northwestern)

Biggest holes to fill: The Bulldogs will need to replace nine graduated starters from last seasons's state championship squad. 

EDGY's Early Take: The Bulldogs are turning the page from their championship season, which was capped off with a 21-14 OT victory over Lake Zurich in the title game. While the offense will be inexperienced to start the season, the program has never been in better shape under head coach Dennis Piron. The Bulldogs' defense feature two D-1 senior team leaders in Luke Weerts (North Dakota State) and Michael Jansey Jr. (Northwestern). The offense will look to run the football behind two starters back on the offensive line in senior Evan Holden and senior Anthony Glisson. Batavia will also see a ramped-up schedule, thanks to the new DuKane Conference. It will challenge the Bulldogs week in and week out. Bulldogs fans also have an added treat: this season marks the 100th rendition of the Batavia-Geneva rivalry game. If Batavia can get their play-action passing game sorted out they have the tools to make another deep run in 2018.