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Bears defense under fire with Lions lurking

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Dan Parr

dparr@pfwmedia.com
Associate editor

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Posted Oct. 03, 2011 @ 5:59 p.m. ET
By Dan Parr

The Bears' running game and special teams bailed out their defense Sunday against the Panthers, but Chicago is probably not going to find itself in the playoff race this season if it tries to keep winning with that formula.

The defense, typically the strength of the team, gave up 543 yards and 10 plays of 20 yards or longer in Week Four. It has to play better in every area starting next Monday night against the Lions to stay in the NFC North picture.

DE Julius Peppers sounded conflicted, or at least uncertain, as he tried to explain Chicago's defensive performance after the win over the Panthers.

"I can't put a finger on what's wrong with the defense," Peppers said. "Nothing is really wrong. We're not playing as well as we should be right now. It's fine. We're going to get it corrected. We got a lot of time to get it corrected."

Detroit and Green Bay have yet to lose this season and the Bears could find themselves trailing the division's leaders by three games — significant ground to make up even with 11 games to be played — if they lose at Ford Field.

The PFW Spin

It was a collective failure by Chicago's defense Sunday, but the defensive line and the secondary are the two areas that are the most concerning heading into the meeting with Detroit.

The Bears didn't register a sack against rookie QB Cam Newton Sunday and they have been credited with only three hits on opposing quarterbacks over the past three games. WR Steve Smith torched Chicago's secondary for 181 yards on eight catches.

Just think what Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson are capable of doing to the Bears.

If Stafford isn't feeling pressure from pass rushers on a regular basis and Johnson has time to complete his routes and get downfield, the Lions could do what the Panthers didn't and send Lovie Smith's team home with a loss.

The Bears identify as a team that wins with defense. It's a proud group on that side of the ball. There's no better opportunity to prove that they are better than they showed against the Panthers than a Monday-night game against a team that's scoring 33.8 points per game (second most in the league). However, the Bears' defense, ranked 31st in the league, is a concern.

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