Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Obviously by now you know that Cutler is out due to his thumb injury and Hanie is getting the start this week. The Bears also picked up
Josh McCown, who hopefully will not see the field whatsoever except in pre-game warm ups. The Bears should know where they stand in the wild card race by kick-off on Sunday, but either way, this is an extremely important game. If the Lions lose and the Bears win, they’re 1 game up in the division and would be sitting comfortably in the 5th seed. If the Lions win and the Bears lose, they’re in a race for the 6th seed. If the Lions lose and the Bears lose, they’re still in the 5th spot. Obviously, a win and a Lions loss is the best possible result. On to the game breakdown.
This weekend our beloved get to travel to the left coast to do battle against the Raiders. The Raiders are an interesting team, they remind me in a lot of ways of our Bears. They’re currently 19th in the NFL in passing yards, (Bears are 22nd) but 3rd in the NFL rushing the ball. (Bears are 14th, which is rather surprising) They, like the Bears, use the run to setup the pass. They also can gash you for huge chunks of yards, just like Forte can. They are capable of grinding out wins by simply matriculating the ball down the field using the run and the occasional mid-range pass. They don’t take a ton of shots down field, but their receivers are much like the Bears in that they’re young, raw, and make mistakes. The Raiders defensive line is somewhat underrated, they get good pressure on the QB in obvious passing situations, but like the Bears can be chewed up for yardage down the field.
That’s where I see the similarities ending though. The Bears defensive unit is much much better at stopping the run, they get a lot more turnovers than the Raiders (24 for the Bears versus 17) and do more with it once they’ve forced a turnover.
Those are my keys to the Bears winning this game. They must stop the run, they must run the ball effectively, and they must force turnovers. If they cannot, then Hanie is going to get the snot beat out of him, as the Raiders will dial up blitzes and rush the passer like an overweight mother at Walmart on Black Friday.
Here’s my overall breakdown for each phase:
- The Bears offensive line has to protect Hanie, they have to give him time to throw the ball. Hanie is a decent runner out of the pocket, but he’s no Jay Cutler.
- Mike Martz absolutely must simplify his playbook, he must allow Hanie to gain confidence and since the offensive line is blocking for a new QB, he must call lots of shallow to mid range routes, with lots of screens thrown in to keep the defense honest.
- Matt Forte and Marion Barber need to get the ball early and often. They need to have at least 35 rushes this game or I feel we’ll lose.
- On defense, it will be extremely tough to beat this team if they don’t stop the run. At the time of this posting, Darren McFadden is not playing, but that’s only a minor blessing for our Bears, as Michael Bush is more than capable of having a big big day rushing and receiving. In the 3 games he’s started, he’s averaged 4.58 yards per carry for 120 yards a game and is a moderate threat in the passing game. In essence, he’s a poor man’s Matt Forte with how the Raiders will use him.
- Carson Palmer has started 3 games this year and he’s been pretty decent in his last two. I feel that the Bears defensive line has a definite advantage in the game within the game in the trenches, and they will need to pressure, knock down, and sack Palmer early and often to knock him off his game. Palmer is abut as mobile as a tree, he can’t scramble at all, but is a wily veteran in doing just enough to evade the rush.
- Special Teams. According to the Chicago Tribune, the Raiders players apparently don’t watch game film when it comes to Special Teams. They feel that Jacoby Ford is the best return man in the league, which frankly is laughable. I feel like that comment should have a canned laugh track playing when it was uttered, because it was a sad joke. Anyway you slice it, I feel the Raiders are about to bite off more than they can chew.
I feel that sums it up, the Bears, when they’re ON and rocking all three phases of the game are almost unbeatable. The Raiders don’t have that luxury. You can run on them, you can pass on them, and you can score via special teams on them.
I think the Bears defense comes out and makes a statement this game. I feel they dominate, they take the pressure off of Hanie to “need” to perform flawlessly, and I feel that Hester returns at least 1 punt or kick for a TD. I do not feel this is going to be a close game, in fact I am predicting a blowout.
Final score, your Chicago Bears 34, Oakland Raiders 13