Halfway through the 2018 campaign, the Chicago Bears are right where they could have hoped coming into the season: in the thick of the NFC North divisional race and currently in the top spot with a half-game lead over the Minnesota Vikings.
As Tarik Cohen mentioned to the media this week, though, that spot doesn’t mean anything right now, but it will in eight weeks.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) November 7, 2018
For Chicago to achieve their goal of winning the NFC North, the Bears will have to do something under Coach Nagy that they haven’t been able to since Lovie Smith, and that’s to have major success in their divisional matchups. Chicago will play five of their final eight games within their division, one of which takes place Sunday when the Bears host Detroit at Soldier Field.
There is a pretty simple recipe to beating the 2018 Detroit Lions, and that includes running the ball down their throats, as well as getting pressure on Matthew Stafford and the awful offensive line that he plays behind.
When people think of the historic Chicago Bears’ teams of the past, there is a general image of a ground and pound run game that helped those teams become successful. On Sunday against Detroit, that is exactly what the Bears need to emulate.
On the season, Chicago already ranks seventh in the NFL with 128.4 rushing yards per game, thanks to the impressive tandem of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen in this Matt Nagy-led offense.
However, the attempts are not always as prevalent for this team, which makes sense in a pass-first offense.
In the Bears’ rout of the Buffalo Bills in Week 9, Howard and Cohen combined for 20 attempts. Ideally, a great goal for Week 10 would be between 25-30 attempts between the two talented tailbacks.
On top of the Bears’ success at running the football this year, the Lions are terrible at defending against it, ranking 27th in the league at team rush defense and giving up a whopping 5.1 yards per carry to opposing offenses.
If Chicago can take advantage of this gaping hole in the Detroit defense, as well as take pressure off of Mitch Trubisky against the highly-rated pass defense of the Lions, the Bears’ offense should be in for another solid day at the office.
If Detroit does anything worse than stopping the run on the defensive end, it may be protecting their franchise quarterback, Stafford.
Last week against the Minnesota Vikings, the Lions allowed 10 sacks on Stafford, in one game. The Oakland Raiders have not forced that many sacks on opposing quarterbacks throughout the entire season.
Chicago has not been quite as effective the last three games in sacking the quarterback, but still rank in the top seven in the NFL with 24 sacks.
In addition to facing the Lions’ porous offensive line, Chicago also likely returns All-Pro pass rusher Khalil Mack to the defense this week, as he and the Monsters of the Midway should get ready to feast on Sunday.
If the Bears can turn this into an old school game, they will almost certainly leave Soldier Field with a divisional victory on Sunday.