The Chicago Bears travel to take on the NFC North division leaders, the Detroit Lions. Even with quarterback Justin Fields' return after being on the shelf for four weeks, pulling off an upset will be a tall task. Despite not making the playoffs last season, they were the hottest team in the NFL down the stretch. No one wanted to face them if they did make it.
Detroit took that momentum they got from last season and have been flying high this season. With their 7-2 record, they not only lead the North, they are second in the NFC, behind the Philadelphia Eagles, who are 8-1. They do not want to have a letdown and lose to the Bears this week.
One of the reasons for the Lions' great play is their running game. David Montgomery is having a big season after bolting the Chicago Bears this offseason. He rejected a higher contract from the Bears and instead chose to not only leave but go to a division rival.
Montgomery leads the league in yards per game with a career-high 83.5. In addition, he has a career-high in yards per carry with 4.7. Despite missing three games this season, he still has 501 yards and is on pace to have the highest rushing yards total in his five-season career. Also, he has 5 rushing touchdowns.
There were not many people who thought Montgomery would be where he is at now. After signing with the team, Detroit proceeded to draft Jahmyr Gibbs with the 12th overall pick. Many people expected Gibbs to take a big chunk of the snaps. Instead, Montgomery had early success and would not back down. His injury opened the door for Gibbs to show what he could do. For the season, Gibbs has 476 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns.
The Chicago Bears want to shut down and shut up David Montgomery
Shutting down the Lions running game will be a key to slowing down their offense. If the Bears make Detroit one-dimensional they have a chance at getting to quarterback Jared Goff. The Bears want to see how their new-look pass rush with Montez Sweat performs against a high-quality offense.
The Bears need to neutralize Montgomery. They have to shut him down and frustrate him. This season, they have a rush defense that can do that. Last season, the Bears ranked 31st in rushing yards allowed, last in rushing touchdowns allowed, and 27th in average yards per carry.
This season, however, things have changed. The Bears rank 2nd in yards, 3rd in touchdowns, and they lead the league in average yards per carry. They've allowed just 760 rushing yards all season. Of those, 273 came between Weeks 2 and 3. That is a 136.5 per game. In the other 8 games, they allowed just 487 yards, just 60.9 yards per game.
In addition to shutting down Montgomery on the field, the Bears want to shut him up as well. This week he has said all the right things, saying that he will just play his normal game. However, back in May, he did not have nice words to say about his former team and their recent history of losing.
"(I)t got to a point where it sucked the fun out of the game for me because I'm a competitor. I like to compete. That's what football's about. It's so refreshing to be in a place where that's appreciated."- David Montgomery
Montgomery's former teammates will not say anything but you know they don't like to hear a criticism against them. That is especially true with some of the new guys. The Bears acquired Andrew Billings to play nose tackle.
The Bears also drafted Gervon Dexter and Zacch Pickens. Add in Justin Jones (who was on the team last season) and that combination has turned things around for the interior defensive line. The new guys don't like having their team criticized. They will want to shut Montgomery down.
It will be an interesting game within the game. Whoever wins the running game will likely come away with the victory. The Bears certainly hope they are the ones who come out on top.