The struggling Chicago Bears, losers of three straight games, host their division foes, the Minnesota Vikings. Can Chicago get their offense moving enough to beat the porous Minnesota defense? Here are some predictions.
Okay, so I’ve been doing these predictions this season and the Chicago Bears made me look like a fool on a lot of them. They’ve lost three games in a row and in two of them the offense was just horrible. In the other one, the offense did fairly well but experienced an implosion that hurt their chances of winning.
Can the Bears improve enough to win? Well, they have to get it done. They face NFC North foes the next three games and it starts with the Minnesota Vikings this week. The Bears are currently in second place but if they don’t get back on track they could find themselves back in the basement, where they spent four straight seasons before they hired head coach Matt Nagy.
If there was a team that needed the bye it’s the Chicago Bears. They are in a downward spiral and need a recharge. That won’t happen until after this week’s game. They need to play well enough to win so they have some momentum going into that bye week.
Here’s something to keep in mind thinking about the bye week. Nagy needs to do something to reverse their trend of losing games after the bye. They’ve lost six straight games coming out of the bye. If they cannot get a win this week and continue their post-bye week trend, we’re looking at a five-game losing streak and the end of any hope for the season. That game after the bye week is a difficult one, however. The Bears face the Green Bay Packers. Green Bay is atop the NFC North division and the third seed in the NFC.
Let’s see if the Bears can stop their losing streak and keep hope alive. For now, here are some predictions for the game.
Can the Bears offense move the ball against the Vikings defense?
The Vikings defense is a bad one. As bad as the Bears offense is, this Minnesota defense is similar. The Vikings rank near the bottom in most categories. They rank 25th in points allowed, 29th in total yards allowed, 30th ins passing yards allowed, 29th in passing touchdowns allowed, and just 17th in interceptions. Against the run, they rank 20th in rushing yards but 2nd in rushing touchdowns allowed, so there’s that.
This is a “get good” game for the Bears offense. Some of the offensive linemen who missed last week’s game against the Tennessee Titans return so that could be a good thing (or bad considering how much the line struggled this season). If they could hold up just a little longer than last week quarterback Nick Foles could have a good day. He did throw for 335 yards and 2 touchdowns last week. Yes, a lot of that came in garbage time, but we caught a glimpse of what he can do when given a little time. Let’s see if the line can give him that time early on and not when the game is out of reach.
Prediction: The offensive line does hold up (if only for pride) and gives Foles time. Foles throws for 256 yards and 3 touchdowns.
The Bears need to run the damn ball
Tell me if you’ve heard this before — the Chicago Bears need to run the ball more. I’ve said it ad nauseam the last six weeks. When the Bears run effectively the offense runs smoother. As mentioned before, the Vikings run defense is tough on allowing rushing touchdowns. Like the Bears, they have a bend but don’t break philosophy.
The Bears don’t need to score rushing touchdowns to be effective, though. The Vikings will allow a lot of rushing yards. If the Bears run the ball effectively and gain a lot of yards, the struggling Vikings pass defense will allow the Bears to score through the air. If Nagy is still the play-caller, he needs to incorporate the running game. The entire city of Chicago implores Nagy to do that.
We still don’t know if starting running back David Montgomery plays on Sunday. He suffered a concussion last week so he is in the league’s concussion protocol. It appears that he’s doing well, but we won’t really know until close to gametime. If he isn’t there, the Bears need to use Artavis Pierce. The rookie is on the roster but Nagy uses Cordarrelle Patterson as the backup. That experiment isn’t working so the Bears need to use actual running backs to play running back. Pierce has played in on only 12 snaps this season, 11 of them on special teams. He has yet to carry the ball.
The Bears also have Lamar Miller on the practice squad. For some reason, the Bears still don’t feel he’s ready to be on the active roster, though they keep saying he’s close. The Bears signed him on October 5th. If he’s still not ready to go, what was the purpose of signing him? There were other running backs healthy enough to help the Bears. The time now is to use him or cut him.
Prediction: Montgomery plays and gains 93 yards on the ground. He also gets 43 receiving yards and a touchdown. Pierce has a few carries and gets 15 yards rushing. We continue waiting for Miller.
The Chicago Bears’ rush defense has another challenge
The Bears’ rush defense struggled coming out of the gate. Opposing running backs gashed the middle of the line. Bilal Nichols took over at nose tackle when Eddie Goldman opted out of the season. He had some growing pains and it hurt the defense.
The run defense is better now, however. They faced last year’s NFL rushing leader, Derrick Henry. Henry came off a great game, rushing for 112 yards and a touchdown. Also, he averaged 6.2 yards per run. The Bears held him down, though. He ran for just 68 yards on 21 carries, an average of just 3.2 yards per run. He also had no touchdowns. It was a great collective effort on the part of the Bears defense. They faced a challenge and answered the bell.
This week they have another tough challenge. They face this year’s rushing leader, Dalvin Cook. Cook comes off a spectacular game, rushing for 206 yards and 2 touchdowns. He averaged 9.4 yards per run.
If the Bears contain Cook, they have a chance to shut down the Vikings offense. If they force quarterback Kirk Cousins to beat them they have a good chance of winning. Because of Cook, the Vikings rank dead last in passing attempts. The Vikings also rank 29th in interceptions thrown, The more they force Cousins to throw the more he’ll give the Bears opportunities for turnovers. The Bears offense needs the defense to force turnovers so they’ll get short fields to start drives.
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The Bears’ pass rush has to get to Cousins. They did a good job on Ryan Tannehill last week. They recorded three sacks, but in critical times during the game, they failed to put enough pressure on him and he completed key passes. The Bears need to put pressure early and often this week.
The “three amigos” consisting of Khalil Mack. Akiem Hicks and Robert Quinn need to wreak havoc. Some people are questioning the Quinn signing because he only has one sack. Yes, having more sacks is preferred, but he is putting enough pressure on quarterbacks. His pressures allow Mack to do his thing. Remember, sometimes a pressure is as good as a sack. Quinn has caused a few interceptions because of his pressures. If he puts pressure upon Cousins, along with Mack and Hicks, Cousins will have a miserable night, and the Bears’ secondary will be celebrating all game long. Perhaps the defense could help the offense by scoring points themselves.
Prediction: Cook runs for 79 yards and one touchdown. The Bearss record 4 sacks and 3 turnovers.
The Chicago Bears are a home underdog but remember this — as much trouble as the Bears offense has had over the past two seasons, Nagy is still undefeated against the Vikings. We’ll see if the winning continues this week.