The overall scope of the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving is more important. If the Bears win they’re back at .500 both in overall record (6-6) and division record (2-2). It puts them in prime position for a late run down the stretch in which they play three of their last four games at home and their lone road game against Minnesota.
If the Lions win they stop the bleeding after back-to-back rough losses in Arizona and New England and keep pace with the Packers for control of the NFC North.
However, part of the allure of this particular game is the matchups it will feature. One of the most intriguing by far is the reunion of Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh going against Pro Bowl guard Kyle Long. The first time these two angry, athletic mammoths met was quite the occasion and is something Long remembers quite clearly. It was one of his more forgettable afternoons as the experienced and ferocious Suh sacked Jay Cutler twice including this game-clinching play.
New Bears teammate Willie Young, who played for Detroit last season is looking forward to the matchup. He believes Long is the perfect antagonist to Suh in terms of strength, athletic ability and also temperament.
‘‘Have you seen this guy after touchdowns? I’m like, ‘This is a 300-pound man. And he’s like in the back of the end zone. That’s like a 60-yard sprint.’ Like, ‘Wow.’ And that’s in practice, [too]. It’s never-ending. He’s probably somewhere jumping on top of the building with his helmet on, with no shirt on, in the snow. That’s the kind of guy Kyle Long is, so it’s going to be a very exciting matchup, man. It’s going to be that kind of game.’’
Kyle Long certainly has gained confidence and consistency in his second year. According to Pro Football Focus he is 11th highest rated guard in the NFL with a +7.1 mark. He is good as a run blocker but is at his best as a pass protector, ranking 4th among guards in that category.
Yet the measuring stick has been and remains Ndamukong Suh. The Detroit Lions stalwart is having the most complete season of his career. With a +29.1 rating he is the best defensive tackle in the league and that is while playing the second most snaps at 601. He has four sacks, 29 quarterback pressures, seven hits and is just as big a nightmare against the run.
That is the firestorm Long is walking into. How he plays in that game could determine the overall outcome more than people realize. Suh won’t make it easy. Let’s just hope the two manic hulks don’t pull out a Mortal Kombat fatality during this latest showdown.
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