Bears game advance. -- With NFL game picks.
Adam Archuleta tried to be funny.
“I think they’re going to try and run the ball on us,” the Chicago Bears safety said about Sunday’s opponent, the Detroit Lions.
That’s a good one. The Lions, with quarterback Jon Kitna and wideouts Roy Williams, Shaun McDonald, Mike Furrey and Calvin Johnson, have the NFL’s top passing attack. Their running game ranks 29th. Add in that the Bears’ secondary might not have an opening-day starter available or at least at full strength, and it leaves Archuleta’s attempt at humor more like wishful thinking.
The Bears have held up well against the run, much better than their ranking of 12th at 92.7 yards per game. They did contain San Diego’s LaDainian Tomlinson (25 yards) and Kansas City’s Larry Johnson (55) before allowing Dallas’ Marion Barber to collect most of his 102 yards after the game was decided.
Chicago’s pass defense fell to 14th after allowing Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo to throw for 329 yards last week. Kitna comes in with 980 yards passing in three games, including 442 last week against Philadelphia. And he missed more than half of the Minnesota game in Week 2.
“Yeah, shoot, they’re going to air it out. That’s what they do best. I have a lot of experience with Mike,” Archuleta said of Mike Martz, Detroit’s offensive coordinator and Archuleta’s former head coach at St. Louis. “He loves passing the ball.
“They’re throwing for a lot of yards. That’s what they do, and I don’t see that changing.”
Lions head coach Rod Marinelli really wants things to change a bit. “We’ve got some really electric receivers here, and I like our quarterback a lot,” he said. “We just have to keep adding some balance to it.”
Williams sees the matchup as a classic confrontation, regardless of how banged up the Bears are.
“The Bears have a good defense and they create a challenge for this offense,” he said in a conference call this week. “It’s a good defense going against a good offense. I’m an offensive guy, so offense always wins.
“It’s an offensive league, but they create a great challenge for us. I put them in the top five defensive-wise. I respect those guys, but also I want to beat those guys.”
With all their injuries, the Bears might have to resort to Plan B, C or D on defense.
“They’ve been throwing the ball. When he (Kitna) sees we’re banged up in the secondary, he’s going to throw the ball,” Bears defensive end Adewale Ogunleye said. “Me, I have to take it upon myself and the rest of the linemen to get after the quarterback.”
Chicago hopes to display a potent offense as well. Hope comes from the Lions allowing 56 points to the Eagles in losing by five touchdowns last week.
Told that’s nearly a point a minute the Lions allowed, Bears wideout Muhsin Muhammad said, “There will be a lot of opportunities in this game. As I break down the matchups offensively, we have a really big opportunity here. It’s a chance to get us back on track and re-establish our identity, a new fire.”
The Bears definitely are on Plan B offensively, changing quarterbacks from Rex Grossman to Brian Griese.
“We’re going to play our game,” Griese said. “We have talent on offense. We have the ability to score points and we will score points. I’m going to work as hard as I can to allow us to be in the right position to get our team in position to make plays.
“First and foremost on offense, we have to step up.”
Running back Cedric Benson sees other NFL teams producing tons of offense and shakes his head.
“It is frustrating because you’re in these games, in these situations where you know you can win and come out on top and you’re supposed to win,” he said. “You’re pretty much beating yourself out there, so it’s pretty frustrating to do.”
Benson has to be encouraged by something offensive coordinator Ron Turner said this week.
“It starts with being able to run the ball, and, if we do that, that will set up everything else.”
That is no joke.
Reed Schreck is the NFL writer for the Rockford Register Star. Contact him at 815-987-1381 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rockford Register Star NFL writer Reed Schreck makes his weekly picks:
Miami 20, Oakland 17
Atlanta 24, Houston 20
Baltimore 17, Cleveland 13
Detroit 31, Chicago 27
Green Bay 20, Minnesota 17
Dallas 30, St. Louis 22
NY Jets 21, Buffalo 13
Tampa Bay 24, Carolina 21
Seattle 19, San Francisco 16
Pittsburgh 20, Arizona 17
S. Diego 33, Kansas City 13
Indianapolis 24, Denver 20
Philadelphia 30, NY Giants 23
N. England 34, Cincinnati 21
Last week: 12-4, .750
Season: 35-13, .729
Sunday’s keys to the game
For a change, emphasize stopping the pass more than the run. The Lions rank 29th in rushing offense and first in passing offense.
Don’t overload Brian Griese’s plate. It’s his first start in nearly two years; give him a manageable game plan.
Confuse QB Kitna. The guy can pass, but he also can be flustered and sacked. The Lions have allowed 15 sacks and thrown six picks.