BARRY SANDERS: LIONS-BEARS COULD BE MNF CLASSIC
By BARRY SANDERS
What a great win for the Lions, a great win! I had high hopes of a positive turnaround after the bye week. Take a moment to readjust, find the balance, and work together as a team. There were some phenomenal plays, and at clutch moments in the game that helped us pull in a very solid W.
This week we travel to Chicago for Monday Night Football. The Lions take center stage against the Division-leading Bears. This is an interesting rivalry that always has an intriguing story or two that come from the matchup.
The Lions will have to figure a way to hold off the defense and make some plays happen. I expect them to come after Matthew Stafford full-force and double cover Calvin Johnson. Perhaps we turn to Mikel Leshoure to shoulder the offense and keep the plays moving short and quick with Brandon Pettigrew. Divert the attention and hopefully give Johnson the chance to get open for one of his signature game-changers. Bottom line is that we will need to play four quarters on both sides of the ball to beat Chicago.
On a somber team note, Jahvid Best was not cleared to play by physicians. I want to send my sincere best wishes and luck to him. There’s nothing tougher than wanting to play with all of your heart –- and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it. The want and need to be part of the team and contribute to its success. It's tough to just sit on the sidelines in that sort of circumstance with the “what ifs.” I once missed five games with a torn PCL, and it really tore me up to not be able to be out there and help the team.
I also have to send a shout-out Peyton Manning. What an amazing comeback Monday night. The Denver D really stepped up as well, but it was vintage Manning in the second half. And, as a fan, it was incredible to watch.
This week there are a ton of great matchups. New England takes on the Jets in the jam-packed AFC East . . . Which Jets team will show up against a very hot Tom Brady?
The Seattle vs. San Francisco matchup is another game we will all have our eyes on. The 49ers are coming off a true beatdown at home and have a short week to prepare for the resurgent Seahawks. If they don’t rebound, they run the risk of losing control of their destiny in the division as both teams are now at 4-2.
But the match-up for me this week is the 5-1 Houston Texans vs. the 5-1 Baltimore Ravens. The Ravens dodged a bullet with the late Dallas FG miss and they obviously took some big hits with injuries, but don’t write them off yet. The Texans are coming off a bad loss to the Packers, and I am wondering if the Ravens D is scouting what Green Bay did to slow down that Houston Offense. The winner of this game will take a commanding lead in the AFC race for home-field advantage in the playoffs, so I expect a real old school battle here.
I’d also like to send my best wishes to Ray Lewis for a speedy and healthy recovery.
The NFL's third-ranked rusher all-time previews each week's games on his "Around the League with Barry Sanders" blog. The Pro Football Hall of Famer was a 10-time Pro Bowl selection while spending his entire career with the Detroit Lions . At Oklahoma State he won the 1988 Heisman Trophy, and he remains active with charity efforts for the Boys and Girls Club and the Scleroderma Foundation.