The Chicago Bears will head out west this Sunday to take on the Arizona Cardinals in a late afternoon showdown. The team is coming off their first win of the 2018 season and the first of head coach Matt Nagy’s career.
With a win, the team will be over .500 for the first time since the 2014 season. Here are five ways in which they can beat the Cardinals on Sunday:
Put the game away early
The Cardinals have struggled heavily in their first two games this season as they have scored a total of just six points. They have not competed in either game as they have lost their game by 18 points or more. The Bears enter the game as heavy favorites even on the road, which is usually not the case among NFL betting tips worldwide.
It is vital for the Bears to score early and often and force the Cardinals to try to score against a Bears defense that has not allowed touchdowns in the first half of their first two games. Letting Arizona hang around late could motivate them to pull off an upset if they are given the opportunity.
Take away David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald from the Cardinals offense
Running back David Johnson is the Cardinals main offensive weapon and could be see a lot of rushes to slow the game down and keep the score close. Johnson has not been productive in his first two games as the Cardinals have trailed heavily and not been able to run the ball. In the passing game, the former All-Pro running back is one of the league’s best pass catching backs. Chicago’s defense is among the best according to ESPN and could make things difficult for Johnson throughout the game.
Along with future Hall of Fame wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, the two are Arizona’s biggest threats in the passing game. If the Bears defense is able to limit them, it will force Cardinals’ quarterback Sam Bradford to look elsewhere which may prolong his time in pocket leading to more sacks.
Pressure Sam Bradford
One of the main reasons as to why the Cardinals have struggled on offense has been because of the play of Bradford. He has averaged just 121 passing yards in his first two games and his longest pass so far has been for 27 yards. This has come with him being sacked just three times, that could change in a big way with a Bears defense that leads the league in sacks with 10.
The Bears defense has faced Bradford three times in the last two seasons and have a total of nine sacks against him. Bradford is less mobile than the two quarterbacks the Bears faced in 2018, and if he is benched he could be replaced by rookie Josh Rosen making his NFL debut against an intimidating defense.
Keep Mitchell Trubisky in a rhythm
If the Bears want to put this game away early, they will need to rely on quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and the passing game. In the team’s first two games, the offense has scored a touchdown on its first possession. Trubisky has been responsible for completing four or more passes on the opening drives of each game. He has not been able to do the same on the team’s following drives.
Against the Cardinals, Trubisky needs to score on his second and third possession to help put the game away early and force the Cardinals offense into becoming one dimension against the Bears defense.
Rely on Jordan Howard in the second half
Running back Jordan Howard will be looking to bounce back from a bad performance against the Seahawks as he was limited to just 35 yards on 14 carries. Howard could see 20+ carries against the Cardinals especially if the team is leading in the second half. If the defense is able to control the game, the Bears might not need to pass as much in the second half and Howard could be closer pounding out the tough yards.
It would also be smart as it would eat up time and keep the defense off the field, giving them a break from the heat that might be felt if the roof is open at the stadium.