Football 101: Good teams beat bad, stupid teams at home

Chicago Tribune sports columnist Steve Rosenbloom previews tonight's Bears/Lions game and what "the Devin Hester package" should consist of.

This seems to be pretty simple:

This is the type of game the Bears have to win if they’re serious about that Super Bowl thing.

The Lions are the kind of team that the Bears have to beat, especially at home on “Monday Night Football,’’ because the Lions are not a good team.

Detroit has some great athletes and some spectacular players. But a team? Not a chance.

The Lions are dirty and undisciplined. That starts with a lunatic coach who isn’t much for coaching actual football. The Lions got lucky in beating Philadelphia while committing 16 penalties, one of which was dirty enough that the league issued a $15,750 fine.

In the last three games before this weekend’s play, the Lions averaged 10.3 penalties a game, worst in the league. Their average of 11.3 penalties per game on the road this season is easily the worst in the NFL.

But you know what? The Lions’ special teams might be worse than the Lions’ discipline. Detroit’s coverage units have four touchdown returns in five games this season.

Hel-lo, Devin Hester.

But wait. There’s another reason the Lions are 2-3 that’s as big as their special teams and embarrassing lack of discipline: Matthew Stafford has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns this season.

And it only figures to get worse for the Lions quarterback because Stafford plays Soldier Field as horribly as Jay Cutler plays Lambeau Field. Stafford has big problems with games in Chicago, and one of them involves keeping his injury-prone body actually in the games.

Here’s the deal: The Lions will beat themselves if the Bears keep their cool. The Lions will give the ball to the Bears and give the Bears extra chances to extend drives because of penalties. This is pretty much the perfect team for Lovie Smith’s approach: Bend but don’t break defensively and mentally.

The Bears, of course, will have to put the Lions in position to play like their bad and stupid selves, and that starts with a good start. The Bears have stunk in the first halves of their last two games before rallying on both sides of the ball. Raise your hand if you’d like to see the Bears offense outscore the Bears defense this week.

The Lions rally well, too. They have had to because their starts haven’t been much better than the Bears’. This could be the worst first half in “MNF’’ history, which is all the more reason for Cutler to get going before his coach gives everyone a halftime scolding.

The schedule has been a friend to the Bears this season. It remains so this week against the sub-.500 Lions and again next week against the dogbreath Panthers. Legit teams bury a divisional rival. Legit teams don’t fall to 0-2 in divisional games.

The Bears stand alone in first place in the NFC North. Act like it.

CHICAGO

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