After suffering a Week 1 loss to one of their oldest rivals, the Chicago Bears will try to right the ship against another one on Sunday afternoon as they take on the Arizona Cardinals in a battle of two original NFL franchises.
Instead of focusing on the long history between these two teams, we’ll focus on the game at hand and break down each team’s offense.
The Bears faced arguably the best quarterback in the league in Week 1, as Aaron Rodgers efficiently moved the ball all over the field and led the Packers to a 31-23 victory.
Meanwhile, the Bears' own quarterback had a decent game for the most part, but when Jay Cutler needed to be at his best in the fourth quarter, he faltered. His interception into the hands of Clay Matthews undid what could have been a game-tying drive for the Bears.
This week, Cutler will compete against one of the better quarterbacks in the league, but the challenge is a more manageable one. Carson Palmer has plenty of weapons to work with, and he will need to be active in the passing game as running back Andre Ellington is out of the lineup with a knee injury.
Despite having to rely more on passing than they would perhaps like to, the Cardinals should still be able to pass at will against the Bears’ lackluster secondary, and Cutler could have some problems against an Arizona secondary that features cornerback Patrick Peterson and an aggressive approach to defending the pass.
With that said, Cutler could have some time to work against the Cardinals, as their defensive line couldn’t get any pressure on Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in Week 1.
With Ellington out of the lineup, the Cardinals will turn to David Johnson and Chris Johnson out of the backfield on Sunday. Chris should get more of the carries in the game, but don’t be surprised if David gets some action as the team looks for an explosive playmaker to help replace the versatile Ellington.
As for the Bears, they showed conclusively that they can run the ball effectively in Week 1, with Matt Forte racking up yardage and Jacquizz Rodgers showing some promise in a limited role.
If Chicago wants to establish the run early in this game, then they could be in for a tough challenge. Calais Campbell and the rest of the Cardinals’ defensive line did a really nice job against the Saints in Week 1, allowing just 2.7 yards per carry to Mark Ingram and company, and the Bears will be in for a tough test in that regard this week.
The Bears’ wide receiver situation is very much up in the air, with Marquess Wilson and Eddie Royal both healthy but star wide-out Alshon Jeffery dealing with a hamstring injury that he picked up on Thursday.
As it stands right now, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Jeffery in the lineup on Sunday, but odds are he will be only available in a limited fashion, and the Bears will have to turn to other options in order to create offense from this group.
As for the Cardinals, their emphasis on the passing game could be a boon for their receivers. Larry Fitzgerald had an excellent game against the Saints last week as he hauled in six passes, and Michael Floyd could be a dangerous threat as well as he continues his recovery from a preseason injury. John Brown will also give the Bears’ secondary another threat to worry about, and he could be poised for a big game.
The Bears don’t have many clear advantages over anyone at this point in their rebuilding process, but they definitely have one of the best past-catching tight ends in the game, and he could be in for a good game against Arizona.
As Robby Baker alluded to on Wednesday in our “Meet the Enemy” post for this game, the Cardinals’ defense relied a lot on blitzes to generate pass rush against Brees last week, and doing so opened up huge gaps for tight ends and running backs to take advantage of in the passing game, and Martellus Bennett is definitely a player to keep eye on if that situation develops again on Sunday.
The Cardinals’ tight ends don’t look like much of a threat on paper, but with a Bears’ linebacker corps that is still learning the intracicies of a 3-4 defense, Darren Fells could have a solid day against Chicago’s pass coverage. He had four catches for 82 yards and a touchdown last week against New Orleans.
The Cardinals’ line was stellar last week against the Saints, allowing zero sacks and allowing Palmer and company to execute their offense effectively, but they are dealing with some injury concerns this week as starting left guard Mike Iupati will miss the game against the Bears.
As for those Bears, the team is still trying to get the right side of the line sorted out, with Kyle Long kicking out to the tackle spot and Vladimir Ducasse replacing him at right guard. Jermon Bushrod is another question mark for the Bears, although he is expected to play on Sunday.
Ultimately, the game will come down to which of these offensive lines will be able to keep the opposing defensive line at bay. The Cardinals’ front three wasn’t all that effective last week, but the Bears experienced a similar problem as they couldn’t get anywhere near Aaron Rodgers.