We’re back again with another Lions-Bears Q&A, this time with Chicago Bears blogger Mike Burzawa. He’s the editor of Bear Goggles On, one of the very best Bears blogs on the internet. Seriously, you need to stop over there if you ever want to know what is going on with our rivals from the Windy City. Anyway, I’d like to thank Mike for taking the time to answer my questions.
Here we go…
Zac Snyder: The Bears haven’t lost since their Monday Night matchup with the Lions, what has been the difference?
Mike Burzawa: Maybe the Lions woke the sleeping Bear, so to speak with their Monday Night beatdown a few weeks ago. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I’d say that the biggest difference has been the coaching. They’ve managed to straighten out the offensive line and found a mix that seems to be working. They also shuffled up their safeties on the defensive side and along with some different coverages, the defense has been improved.
ZS: Can the Bears offensive line keep Jay Cutler clean for a second straight week?
MB: The offensive line has had a string of strong games in both protecting Cutler and of course opening holes for Matt Forte. They will challenged with the very formidable Lions defensive front, but I think they’ll be up to the task. Since they met up on MNF, the Bears have booted “False Start” Frank Omiyale to the bench, moved Chris Spencer to guard and slid Lance Louis out to right tackle. That revamped right side of the offensive line has been a key, especially in the running game. Those guys both play nasty, so I look forward to seeing them get chippy with the Lions defensive line that gave them fits a few weeks ago.
ZS: What kind of hype is this game getting in Chicago?
MB: This game is HUGE and definitely getting some big hype in Chicago as the game that can help springboard the Bears into the playoffs. When the Bears win, they pull even with the Lions and suddenly that “huge” lead the Lions had for the Wild Card when these teams last matched up disappears. The Bears didn’t like getting embarrassed on national TV a few weeks ago, so they aren’t lacking any motivation.
ZS: When are the Bears going to show Matt Forte the money? Is there any worry from fans that that front office will mess this up?
MB: Let me answer the second part first. To a certain extent, the front office did mess this up, especially from a PR standpoint. I can’t go on Twitter for 5 minutes during a Bears game without a slew of #PayForte hashtags littering my timeline.
Now about that contract extension. People seem to neglect that the Bears did offer Forte a contract extension before the season started and Forte left about $14 million guaranteed on the bargaining table, choosing to bet on himself. So far, his bet has paid off and the price seems to be going up. The Bears still control Forte’s rights for 2 years after this season by virtue of the Franchise Tag, which will pay Forte about $8 million next season and about $9+ the year after if they can’t work out a longer term deal this offseason. Forte would be wise to take a deal because by the time the Bears are done Franchising him, he’ll be old by running back standards and his value will be down.
ZS: How will this game play out and what will be the final score?
MB: I expect this game to go quite differently than it did at Ford Field. The Bears offense won’t be contending with crowd noise and has been building confidence over the last few weeks. On the defensive side, Calvin Johnson is always a tough matchup, but without much of a running threat, the Bears should be able to key on slowing down the Lions passing game. The Lions come in well rested with an extra week to prepare, which is a definite boost for the visitors. I don’t think this game is a pushover like Bears-Lions games used to be, but I think the Bears get the job done. Bears 27, Lions 23.