By Will Strome, NFLWeather.com, special to NFP
As thunderstorms consume the Midwest, Chicago’s Soldier Field should be a mess for Monday Night Football. With a 60% chance of rain forecasted by NFLWeather.com, thunderstorms are expected when the Bears host the Detroit Lions. On Monday Night, the only thing fiercer than the “Norris Division” rivalry will be the weather.
Coming off a bye week, Chicago looks to build on its three game win streak in weather conditions worthy of the Windy City’s famous title. Southern winds swirling between 10 and 15 mph could gust as high as 20 mph.
And that wind will get to people like Matt Stafford. In the Bears 37-13 Soldier Field victory a year ago, Stafford threw four picks while completing only 33 of 63 attempts. But that was also a Detroit side that also turned the ball over six times with two going back for touchdowns. If Detroit has any hope of upsetting Chicago, throwing the ball 63 times in the rain likely won’t cut it.
The Lions (2-3) are having difficulty finding success. Calvin Johnson has one touchdown opposed to his nine through five games in 2011, even though the offense is averaging more passing yards per game. The Lions defense has yet to hold an opposition to under 20 points. Heavy rain and wind could limit Stafford’s attempts and even though the Bears (4-1) post the league’s best defense against the run (65.8 ypg).
Chicago’s defensive line is heavy on size, speed and swagger. In addition to holding teams to under 70 yards rushing, the line is getting to the quarterback. Ranked first in the league with 18 interceptions and fifth in the NFL with 18 sacks, Chicago once again boasts an elite defense having only surrendered 71 total points. Rain will make this unit stronger and tougher, slowing down the shifty Lions’ backs and forcing Stafford to beat the Bears head-on.
In turn, Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler’s best option is to let Matt Forte grind it out between the tackles and wear down the Lions front seven while letting Michael Bush hold the rock in short yardage situations. Cutler is currently posting a sloppy 1:1 touchdown to turnover ratio. But if Cutler can manage the game and protect the ball, regardless of conditions, this will be a field day for the Bears.
NFP (at) NFLWeather.com
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