Much to my surprise, the Bears head into their rematch with the Lions with a winning record at 5-3-0, against the Lions' only-sort-of-surprising 6-2.
I had thought that the Bears were gonna be less than mediocre this year, due to problems with the personnel on both lines. But young Henry Melton and Stephen Paea, waiver-wire pickup Amobi Okoye, and holdovers Anthony Adams and Matt Toeiana have done a decent job so far of creating point pressure, allowing Peppers to edge-rush, which he does so well.
The offensive line seems to have solidified since the second half against these same Lions, when a couple of changes were made. As long as the player known as "Gate 68" remains on the bench, I'm happy. Frank Omiyale hasn't been effective for as much as a ten-minute stretch since joining the Bears, and it's hard to understand why he remains.
It's true that the Bears' receiving corps doesn't have anyone that is regarded as a top-shelf ballcatcher. But they do have a nice combination of speed and hands, and it's good to see that veteran underachiever Roy Williams is catching a ball or two, though his drops are still problematical.
The return of Earl Bennett bodes well. Bennett is the best downfield blocker, has the best hands, and runs the best routes of any wideout on the team. That was evident in the dismantling of the Eagles, in a game that really shouldn't have been close. Forte fumbled against Philly. He probably won't fumble the rest of the year. Without those turnovers, the Bears had a good chance of points on both possessions.
I look for the Bears to avenge their earlier loss and to win over the Lions in a close one. Detroit will be coming after Cutler as in the previous meeting, but they'll have to stay in their lanes to make that effective, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a little play-action, a few more of the rollouts that Cutler does so effectively, and a tad more tight-end targeting, all from three-and-five step drops. May even favor the three, depending on how aggressive the Lion front four gets. If they overpursue, it's going to be a long game for them.
Bears need to hold on to the ball, limit the big plays (three huge ones last time), and give Barber about a fifth of the carries to spell Forte a little. Barber has excelled on goal-line and short-yardage-he's not likely to take the ball the length of the field to the house, but he isn't asked to do that, either.
The other great thing about the win at Philly is that it dragged my fantasy team out of a mire. I've only had one misstep this year (had to lose Rob Gronkowski because of bad bye-week planning), and have had bad luck on my draws (I lead the league in scoring by 50 points but am like third from the bottom in points against, which I have no control over).
I was about to lose last week's game when the Bears pulled out that win and Earl Bennett, Jay Cutler, Devin Hester, Matt Forte, and the Bears defense all had good games.
So thanks, and hey, let's do it again.