By Dan Durkin-
(CBS) The Detroit Lions have an opportunity to sweep the season series with the Chicago Bears for the second straight year. In their last meeting, on Thanksgiving, the Lions dominated the line of scrimmage en route to a 34-17 victory.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Wind Chill Advisory In Effect, Wind Chills Dropping Well Below Zero
Here are five matchups to focus on during Sunday’s rematch at Solider Field. Detroit is 10-4, while Chicago is 5-9.
Bears left tackle Jermon Bushrod vs. Lions right defensive end Ezekiel Ansah — Ansah dominated Bushrod in their previous matchup, continually winning the edge with a combination of both speed and power to press the pocket from the blind side. New starting quarterback Jimmy Clausen isn’t nearly as mobile as Jay Cutler in the pocket, so if Bushrod is unable to hold up in one-on-one situations, it will alter both the Bears’ protection schemes and pass route combinations.
Bears right guard Kyle Long vs. Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh — Previously, he Bears refused to let Suh collapse the pocket from the inside, as they nearly double teamed him the entire game. Part of drafting Kyle Long was to match Suh’s strength and quickness on the interior and so far, he’s held up well. However, the Bears didn’t get much push — nor did they make much effort — on interior runs, which must change if they expect to have success Sunday.READ MORE: View Live Radar
Bears tight end Martellus Bennett vs. Lions linebackers/safeties — Despite their lack of rushing attempts, the Bears were still successful with their play-action passing game against Detroit in late November, frequently finding Bennett in the flats off boot action. Bennett has been one of the few offensive bright spots for the Bears and should find opportunities in the flats and seam against safeties and linebackers.
Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller vs. Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson — The Bears drafted Fuller to be a potential antidote to the potent pass receivers in the NFC North, but Johnson had his way on Thanksgiving, notching 11 receptions for 146 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson beat Fuller with a combination of technique, leverage, size and strength. Fuller has a lot of room to grow and such matchups will provide film for him to improve his footwork and route recognition.
Bears right defensive end Jared Allen vs. Lions left tackle Riley Reiff — Reiff missed the first matchup with a knee injury, and Allen had his way early on with Cornelius Lucas. The Lions adjusted by going with shorter drops, but Allen must be able to bend the edge and disrupt Matthew Stafford’s rhythm. The Bears’ pass rush went away in the second quarter of their last matchup, and the game quickly got out of hand.MORE NEWS: Many Chicago Area Schools To Close Or Go Remote Wednesday Due To Extreme Cold
Dan Durkin covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @djdurkin.