The Chicago Bears haven’t gotten above .500 since they started the 2014 season with a 2-1 record, but they could change that on Sunday as they head to Arizona to face the lowly Cardinals.
The Bears, who beat the Seattle Seahawks for their first win of the season on Monday, will have some big-time advantages in this game, as the Cardinals have scored just six points this season and have one of the NFL’s worst defenses through two games.
For the offense, this likely means that the playbook will be more open than usual, as Matt Nagy gives Mitchell Trubisky a chance to really hit the gas. That could mean more targets downfield, even with Patrick Peterson in the mix for Arizona, and the Bears will have the chance to really mix the run and pass, as the Cardinals have struggled against both.
Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel could get some big-time looks this week, and Anthony Miller, who scored his first career touchdown on Monday, could be a big-time difference maker out of the slot.
As for the Cardinals, their offense is dealing with the absence of starting lineman Andre Smith, and they will also be dealing with limited performances potentially from Larry Fitzgerald and Jermaine Gresham.
Wide receiver Christian Kirk, who missed Thursday’s workout, is expected to play Sunday, but he could see some after-effects as well.
Even with all of those injuries, the big story of the weekend is the fact that the Cardinals are planning to simplify their playbook in an effort to get more going offensively. That likely won’t be easy given how well the Bears have played early in the season, but look for a heavy dose of David Johnson and some short passes from Sam Bradford early and often in this one.
Johnson has rushed for 85 yards and a touchdown so far this season, and already has six catches for 33 yards, so he is a duel threat out of the backfield that players like Eddie Jackson and Danny Trevathan will have to keep an eye on.