MNF Matchup: Bears @ LionsMonday, October 10, 2011
Monday Night Football
Chicago @ Detroit
Is the Bears' defense overrated? Since what's shaping up as a fluky Week 1 domination of the Falcons, Chicago has been touched up for an average of 314 passing yards per week, seven passing touchdowns and two interceptions, while generating only three sacks. Opposing running backs are averaging 4.66 yards per carry against the Bears. There's nothing intimidating about those numbers. Use your Lions skill players on Monday Night Football. ... Calvin Johnson has scored three touchdowns and averaged 87 yards on six catches in his last five meetings with the Bears, not including a would-be 30-yard scoring grab in Week 1 last season that was controversially overturned on review. Look for Johnson to dog-walk diminutive LCB Tim Jennings and aging RCB Charles Tillman all over the field. ... The last time Matthew Stafford made it through a full game against the Bears was during his rookie year, and he racked up 296 passing yards. This season, Stafford is the No. 4 overall fantasy quarterback and his connection with Megatron appears incapable of being stopped. ... Lions slot receiver Nate Burleson has four catches for 28 scoreless yards in his last two games, combined. I'd want to see Burleson pick it up before using him in fantasy football.
Jahvid Best is a top-nine PPR back, but much more an RB2 in standard leagues. Whereas his 3.2 YPC is identical to last year's, Best ranks fifth in the NFL in receptions among tailbacks, and sixth in receiving yards. ... The Lions may have to explore using Brandon Pettigrew as a "help" blocker for Jeff Backus soon, because Detroit's blind-side tackle is getting ransacked in protection. While Backus was lucky Stafford escaped countless Week 4 left tackle pressures to take no sacks, Backus was just as ineffective as the previous game, when Jared Allen pinned three quarterback takedowns on him. Backus was facing DeMarcus Ware last week, but he'll have his hands full again with Julius Peppers on Monday night. To be sure, the stats say Pettigrew is in line for a productive day. Chicago has allowed four touchdowns to tight ends in four games, and a 6.5-catch, 82-yard weekly average. Just don't be surprised when Pettigrew slows down and starts blocking more. He's currently on pace for career highs in receptions (88) and yards (960). ... The Bears historically defend designated deep threats well because of their Cover-2 scheme. It isn't good news for Titus Young.
Playing on the road against the aggressive Lions, the Bears will likely try to keep Stafford off the field with heavy doses of Matt Forte. Reintroducing a lead blocker to their offense (FB Tyler Clutts), the Bears skewed toward the run in Week 4, racking up 31 rushing attempts compared to 17 passes. The revised game plan worked, as Forte averaged 8.2 yards per carry en route to a career-high 205 yards. The Lions rank 20th against the run, allowing 4.76 YPC. ... Jay Cutler is barely on the QB2 radar coming off his fewest pass attempts in a full game since 2009. Detroit is also significantly better in pass than run defense. Cutler is a lowly 24th in fantasy quarterback scoring, so here's hoping you didn't consider him anyway. The Bears have lost faith in their passing game. ... Dane Sanzenbacher and Johnny Knox are the only Chicago wideouts worth Week 5 consideration, and neither is an inviting option. Sanzenbacher was on the field for just 13 snaps last week. Knox would need Chicago to fall behind early and start winging it to be worthwhile. ... Devin Hester isn't a fantasy option outside of return-yardage leagues. Coming off a catch-less Week 4 game against the Panthers, he's on pace for just 556 receiving yards this year.
Score Prediction: Lions 30, Bears 20
Check out Gregg Rosenthal's fantasy preview of Monday night's game.