CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 11: Caleb Hanie #12 of the Chicago Bears (L) shakes hands with Jay Cutler #6 as quareterbacks coach Sahne Day watches before a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Soldier Field on September 11, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Falcons 30-12. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Caleb Hanie; Jay Cutler; Shane Day
This Sunday, the Bears will have to face the Raiders without Jay Cutler. Oakland is 6-4 and fighting to win the wide open AFC West, while the Bears want to gain ground in the wild card race. With the Lions loss on Saturday, they have a chance to gain ground. What do you need to know before kickoff at 3:15? Read on.
Hanie Time -- Every Bear, from Lovie Smith to Brian Urlacher, has professed his faith in Caleb Hanie's ability to lead the Bears to a win. Now, he has the chance to show that their faith is warranted. Don't expect the Bears to make wild changes in the offense, but those long bombs that Jay Cutler can unleash? Yeah, don't expect many of those, which is not good news for Johnny Knox.
Forte's forte -- Matt Forte has been slowed in the last two games, but he will need to be a reliable option for the offense today. The Raiders allow 131.6 yards on the ground per game, so today should be Forte's best chance to get past 100 yards in a game for the fifth time this season.
Turning over a new ball: The key for the Bears defense will be to create turnovers. They have wreaked havoc in their last two games, taking the ball away nine times. That streak has them ranked second in the league, but it's a streak they'll need to continue for a win today.
Full infirmary in Oakland: Outside of Cutler, D.J. Moore is the only Bear who is expected to miss the game with an injury. The Raiders, however, have been hammered by injuries. Jacoby Ford, Darren McFadden, and Jarvis Moss are out, while they have nine players who were listed as questionable. That includes running back Darrius Heyward-Bey and defensive tackle Richard Seymour, two key players for the Raiders this season.
It's a snap: Patrick Mannelly has been the Bears long snapper for 147 games. Today, it will be Chris Massey. The spotlight will be with the player who signed with the Bears on Thursday. Without Jay Cutler, the Bears need to limit mistakes, so Massey needs to be perfect.
Sackfest: Oakland has 29 sacks this season, with Kamerion Wimbley and Tom Kelly leading the way. Look for Wimbley to try to take advantage of J'Marcus Webb on the line to get a hand on Hanie.
Rookies coming home: First-year players Stephen Paea and Chris Conte are both hoping for big games today for their homecomings. Paea lived near Oakland after moving from Tonga, and Conte played collegiately at nearby California.
History lesson: The Bears and Raiders have met just 12 times, and the record is 6-6. Chicago won the last match-up 17-6 in 2007.