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Saturday, September 11, 2010
Have at it: Clash of the titans?

By Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com

Long-time blog readers know that I typically circle back Friday morning on our Have at It topic. I plan on continuing that schedule this season, but Thursday night's game in New Orleans temporarily set me back. So, better late than never, right?

Some of you were taken aback by the sharp nature of our topic for Week 1, typically a time for sunshine demeanors and happy thoughts. (Ba, humbug.) I wanted to know who you thought will get the best of the matchup between the Chicago Bears' still-developing offense and the Detroit Lions' still-undermanned defense Sunday at Soldier Field. I called it an occasion of a completely resistible force confronting a highly movable object, and Tdbuddah was the only one hung up by that analogy:

"I always wondered, what about a mass of salt and a mass of water? The salt dissolves into the water, right? So aren't they occupying the same place at the same time?"

Luckily, Behr-34 set the topic straight: "No. They are not. The spaces they are occupying are infinitely smaller due to the salt dissolving into its individual atomic masses, but each element's atoms still do not occupy each other's space. They move around and next to each other, but do not occupy the *same* space."

Thanks, Behr-34, for edumacating all of us. Now, for the topic at hand....

My sense is that you're pretty split on that state of both teams. Benmzion was among many who downplayed the significance of any ineptitude we might have seen during the preseason: "I understand that there isn't much to go on, at this point, but can we stop pretending that anything the Bears or anyone else did in the pre-season matters? There is literally no correlation at all between preseason performance and performance during the regular season. Concerns arising from the fact that they looked bad in preseason are meaningless."

But there is a difference between overlooking preseason performance and buying into rhetoric suggesting the Bears didn't use the good parts of their offense this summer in order to maintain the Week 1 surprise factor. I'm sure their calls were vanilla, but many of you noted the execution of what they did run was still poor.

Wrote Realfootballisplayedongrass:
I think its possible the Bears were holding back some of their offense and maybe putting players alone on an island just to see what they could do and how they would react, but I really doubt that when their offense comes out in game one it will be a completely different result.

The Bears need to gel fast on offense so why would they not work on a majority of their offense in live action against a real opponent? I also don't think the Lions improvement at D. line can improve other positions a whole lot, I'm sure it will help but even the best defensive line can't make up for inexperience and lack of skill.

That said, many of you aren't ready to believe the Lions' talented line can cover for the rest of the defense in a substantial way. Wrote sonealcti "I think people are giving way too much credit to the 'new look' Lions defensive line. Sure, the players are of a higher caliber than were on the line last year, but the new version still has a lot of potential holes.

"Corey Williams is a journeyman who has been traded multiple times and has been unable to settle in successfully as either a 4-3 tackle or a 3-4 defensive end. Kyle Vanden Bosch is disciplined and a high-motor guy. Great -- he also has 7.5 sacks combined over the last two seasons. Cliff Avril was there last year, and Ndamukong Suh remains a question mark until he actually does something in the NFL.

"So I'll take the Bears on this one, and I don't think it will be close."

That assessment was pretty harsh, I thought. Williams was a good 4-3 tackle with the Green Bay Packers. He flamed out in Cleveland because he's not really a 3-4 end. And I think we all know Suh is going to be special. RestoreTheRoarMan thinks the group will be plenty against a team in flux like the Bears: "I think if there's any game this year where the Lions secondary will look good, due to the Dline creating pressure, it will be this game. My only question is how many sacks/hurries Jay Cutler gets."

My take? My gut keeps telling me this game will be a shootout for both sides. No matter how disjointed the Bears offense seemed this summer, you have to take the fact of the Lions' defense into account. They'll be playing without middle linebacker DeAndre Levy, and three of their starting defensive backs are playing with significant injuries. Safety Louis Delmas has a sore groin, cornerback Jonathan Wade has a fractured finger and safety C.C. Brown has a fractured forearm.

I do think the Lions' defensive line will create some havoc for Cutler. But it will have to be overwhelming and constant to cover for a back seven that is as limited as the Lions appear. I think the Bears should get the better of that matchup. But more than anything, I'm on board with Bigwalt2990, who wrote, simply: "Can't wait for Sunday."