The Bears need a win and a Minnesota loss if they are to progress beyond the regular season...
"A couple of key personnel question marks will have a huge bearing on this game"
Da Bears looked nailed on for play-off action after their barnstorming 7-1 start to the season but are now hanging on for dear life after a recent poor run of results. Injuries have hampered their efforts and the O' line continues to be a real problem area, but they did turn things around last weekend with a much needed 28-13 verdict over Arizona.
That victory over a very poor Cardinals side gives them a mini squeak of making the play-offs, but as well as taking care of their own business by beating the Lions in the early live game, they'll have to bite their collective lip while cheering on their hated rival Green Bay in the later live game against Minnesota.
In the reverse fixture back in October (in Chicago) the match turned into a defensive, virtual stalemate in which Da Bears ran out 13-7 winners. That was in the middle of a seven-game winning streak for Chicago and at a time when they had fewer players on the physio's couch than they do now.
A couple of key personnel question marks will have a huge bearing on this game. Defensive mastermind and perennial Pro Bowler Brian Urlacher directs traffic from the linebacker position and is a massive influence on Chicago's solid defence. He was regarded as done for the season after a grade-two hamstring tear four weeks ago, but has been seen stretching it out this week and could give it a shot with the season on the line.
Running back Matt Forte is another big worry for the Bears as he limped off during the win over Arizona with an ankle problem. He's a crucial part of the Chicago offence, and without him to divert defenders - QB Jay Cutler will no doubt spend much of this contest either a/ running for his life or b/ getting slam dunked on to his backside by a 3oo-pound monster. It's likely Forte will play but his effectiveness will surely be compromised.
The neutral will have fun watching this game and comparing the talents of statistically the two best receivers in the league. Detroit's Calvin (Megatron) Johnson broke Jerry Rice's single-season receiving record last week and now has 1892 yards to his name. He reached that total as a result of a league leading 117 catches, and that puts him four ahead of Chicago's Brandon Marshall who has 114.
An intriguing match-up, but not necessarily one that will decide the outcome. I'm banking on the fact that that Urlacher and Forte will be below par if they turn up; and with a three point start on the handicap I'll nick some of the 2.01/1 Detroit along with nibbles on the outright market @ 2.47/5 and Megatron to be first touchdown scorer @ 6.05/1.
Back Detroit Lions (+3.0 pts) to win on handicap @ 2.01/1
Back Detroit Lions to win @ 2.47/5
Back Calvin Johnson to be first touchdown scorer @ 6.05/1