Chicago Bears versus the Green Bay Packers Game Preview


By Bryan Dietzler

The 4-6 Chicago Bears will travel to venerable Lambeau Field this Thursday night to take on the 7-3 Green Bay Packers for the second time this season in a Thanksgiving night matchup.  The Bears are coming off of a loss to the Denver Broncos at Soldier Field while the Packers put the screws to Minnesota and beat them ending a three game losing streak.  The Packers come into this game with all the momentum after their big win while the Bears continue to struggle to find answers to why they are losing so many close games.

The Packers have traditionally beaten the Bears in this rivalry as of late and Chicago will hope to turn things around.  The Packers boast one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in Aaron Rodgers and he has been one of the main reasons this team has won seven games this season.  Green Bay’s defense has also been playing some pretty good football this season and the Bears will have to contend with that.  This is a better Bears team now than when these first two teams played one another to start the season and they might be able to play the Packers a little bit better this time around.  Despite what the lines say about it this game could be much closer than anyone thinks it’s going to be.

The following is a preview of the Bears and Packers game this Thursday night.  There is a look at how individuals can and should perform in this game as well as specific units.  There is some insight into the key matchups as well as a final score prediction.

The Bears offense has its struggles in the redzone.  They get down there just fine for the most part but when they get close to the end zone they walk away with field goals or no points.  The Bears will have to improve on that against the Packers as Green Bay can score from anywhere on the field and put up points quickly.  This means that the plays that offensive coordinator Adam Gase calls in that part of the field need to be spot on and the execution of those plays needs to be flawless.  If the Bears can execute well in the redzone against the Packers they will have an excellent chance of winning this game.

Don’t look now but it appears as if running back Matt Forte is going to be back for this game and that spells good things for the Bear’s offense.  If they can get good production out of him and spell him with Jeremy Langford at times, who is a solid running back in his own right, they should be able to do well.  Forte had a real nice game against the Packers in week one and now that he is rested and healthy he could go off on the Packers this Thursday night.

On defense, Green Bay is giving up 114 yards of rushing offense to opposing teams per game.  The Bears are averaging 114.6 yards per game so the matchup is pretty even.  The Bears will hope to get more rushing yards than their average in this game and control the ball and the clock keeping it out of Rodgers and the Packer’s offense’s hands.  The more they keep it away from the Packers the better chance they have of winning this game.

So look for the Bears to try to run the ball a lot in this game as long as the score doesn’t get too far out of hand.  With Forte back they should be able to gain some yards and having Langford spell him should also help the Bears in the running game.  If the Bears can run the ball effectively then they should have a solid shot of winning the game.

The passing game may be better this week as it appears that wide receiver Alshon Jeffery will be returning to the lineup.  The Bears can really use him to stretch the field and draw double coverage to allow other receivers to catch the ball and move the offense down the field.  Cutler will use Jeffery as much as possible as long as Jeffery is able to overcome his injuries and play well.  He was hurting in the Bear’s game against the Rams and didn’t see much action but his presence was enough to draw double teams in that game and it helped out immensely.  We may see some of that in this game.

Quarterback Jay Cutler has been pretty good since coming back from an injury a few weeks ago but did take a little bit of a step back in the game against Denver.  He threw two interceptions and really didn’t get going (and also failed to throw a touchdown pass) so things will have to change this Thursday night.  The presence of Jeffery will help.  The Packers defense is allowing teams to throw for an average of 254 yards per game so there is some room for the Bears to gain some yards through the air.  On a per game basis, Chicago is averaging 238 yards per game through the air so they should be able to get that and more against the Packers defense.  It might end up being one of Cutler’s better games if he can get the ball down the field and get it to his receivers.  Still, the Bears should try the running game to control the ball and the clock and then use the passing game as needed.  The passing game will become very important though if the Bears fall behind and have to play catch up.  At least they will have the weapons to compete if Jeffery plays.

The offensive line got somewhat back to normal in their game against the Broncos as center Hroniss Grasu came back into the lineup.  The Bears will sport that same offensive line in this game.  That offensive line didn’t do a great job of blocking for the run against the Broncos but hopefully they will be able to pick it up in this game and help the running backs gain more yards.  They are pretty decent at protecting Cutler (the Broncos only had two sacks in the game last week for a team that has been known for getting a lot of sacks) so that may not be an issue in this game.  But they have to perform better than they did last week in the run blocking game or else this is going to be a long and unproductive game for the Bears.

The Bears defense has actually improved greatly since the first time these two teams met.  They aren’t allowing too many points per game like they did at the outset of the season and are keeping games close.  What they have struggled with is playing against the run.  They are allowing an average of 118 yards per game on the ground while the Packers are gaining an average of 109.6 yards per game on the ground.  Packers running back Eddie Lacy has been much maligned this year with weight problems and an ineffective ability to run the ball but he had a solid game against the Vikings on Sunday so the Bears will have to keep an eye on him.  His backup, James Starks, is also a solid runner and will spell Lacy from time to time.  The Bears have to be stout against the run.

Getting good production on run defense will come when the Bears are much more disciplined in their gaps.  In Sunday’s game against the Broncos players were often out of their gaps or there were two guys in one gap so that was causing problems in their ability to defend against the run.  After the debacle on Sunday it can be assured that defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has his defense ready for this game and won’t allow the Packers to pile up a lot of yardage against them.  Look for the Bears defense to do well against the run in this game providing they can keep gap integrity and not be out of position.

The Bears passing defense has been hot and cold at times during the season.  They did well against the Rams (but then again they weren’t against a top of the line quarterback) but had their struggles against a quarterback that had barely played a game in Brock Osweiler last week.  Chicago will face one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in Rodgers but Rodgers is human and can be forced into making mistakes and having a less than stellar performance.  How is that possible?  Through pass pressure and keeping him in the pocket.

Chicago needs to ratchet up the pass pressure against Rodgers and not let him escape the pocket to throw on the run.  The Bears got good pressure against Denver last week (they got five sacks) but didn’t get pass pressure at critical times in the game and that cost them.  They absolutely have to get pressure against Rodgers (this has worked for other teams especially those teams that have beat the Packers this season) to throw him off his game and make him make mistakes.  If the Bears can get Rodgers off his spot they should have a good bit of success.

On a per game average, the Packers are gaining 232.3 yards per game through the air.  The Bears defense is allowing teams to pass for an average of 217 yards per game so the Bears defense has done a decent job of not allowing teams to gain a lot of yards passing.  They have decent coverage players in Tracy Porter and Kyle Fuller and those two have been doing a decent job of locking down receivers and not allowing a lot of yards through the air.  This week’s test will be a little different however as the Bears will be facing one of the best quarterbacks in the league but this quarterback doesn’t have the top of the line receivers that some other quarterbacks do.  Still he makes due with what he has and does a very good job.

Coverage units are going to have to play very well in this game in order to keep the Packers offense from gaining a lot of yards through the air.  With a pass rush, the secondary should have no problem keeping tight coverage on Green Bay’s receivers and not allowing them to catch the ball or gain a lot of yards after the catch.  One positon that really hurt the Bears in their last game when going through the air was the tight end position.  The Bears are going to have to lock down the Packers tight ends and not allow them to become a problem.  Good play from the safeties and the linebackers will help do this.

As of this writing, it was still not determined if Jeffery was going to play but there is a good chance that he will come back and play in this game.  It looks like Forte will be back as well.  There is some bad news on offense regarding the injury front however.  It was just determined today that tight end Martellus Bennett would be out of the game with a rib injury.  This definitely hurts the Bears passing game.  Wide receiver Eddie Royal will also miss another game adding to the Bears woes.

On defense it is not known if safety Antrel Rolle will play or not.  He was nursing a knee injury he suffered in practice last Saturday and didn’t practice all week so it’s not know what his status is.  Outside linebacker Pernell McPhee looks like he is going to play.

Controlling the ball and the clock is going to be a huge factor for the Bears.  If they can keep it out of Rodgers hands they will have a better chance of winning this game so running the ball will be important.  Getting good pass protection for Cutler is also going to be a must as the Packers had several sacks in their game against the Vikings.  Run the football and get good pass protection will be the name of the game for the Bears offense and if they do that they will be productive and quite possibly score quite a few points.

On defense the Bears need to get to Rodgers and cause him to not set his feet or roll out of the pocket and make throws on the run.  Keeping him in the pocket would be the best way to defeat him and the Bears can do that with a good pass rush and blitzes.  Stopping the run will be huge because that allows the Bears more opportunities to control the ball and keep it out of Rodgers hands.  They have to allow Rodgers as few opportunities as possible in this game.

This really looks like it could be a close game and the Bears have an excellent chance of winning if they play well but they are playing against one of the best quarterbacks in the league and this team has owned the Bears recently.  Chicago needs to play a perfect game in order to beat the Packers and it’s pretty unlikely that the Bears will be able to do that.  It won’t be a blowout but the Bears will just miss getting a win against the Packers this Thursday night at Lambeau Field.

Prediction: Green Bay 24 Chicago 20

Bears vs Packers NFL Week 12 Capsule



THURS. RECORD 23-20-2 18-25-2
STREAKS   10 of past 11
COACHES VS. OPP. John Fox: 4-2 Mike McCarthy: 14-6
LAST WEEK L 17-15 vs. Broncos W 30-13 at Vikings
LAST GAME 9/13/15: Packers 31 at Bears 23. Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers throws for 189 yards & 3 TDs. Packers RB Eddie Lacy rushes for 85 yards & TD.
LAST GAME AT SITE 11/9/14: Packers 55, Bears 14. Green Bay QB Rodgers throws for 315 yards & 6 TDs (145.8 passer rating). Packers CB Casey Hayward records 82-yard INT-TD.
REFEREE Ed Hochuli
BROADCAST NBC (7:30 PM CT): Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya (field reporter). Westwood One: Kevin Harlan, Tony Boselli, Laura Okmin (field reporter). SIRIUS: 88 (WW1), 83 (Chi.), 82 (GB). XM: 88 (WW1), 83 (Chi.), 82(GB).


PASSING Cutler: 192-303-2310-13-6-92.7 Rodgers: 214-347-2482-23 (3L)-3-101.8 (2C)
RUSHING Langford (R): 78-250-3.2-5 Lacy: 105-408-3.9-2
RECEIVING Bennett (TE): 50-425-8.5-3 Cobb: 47-553-11.8-6
OFFENSE 352.1 341.9
TAKE/GIVE -3 +8 (3C)
DEFENSE 340.9 368.6
SACKS McPhee: 5 Peppers: 6.5 (T3C)
INTs 5 tied: 1 4 tied: 2
PUNTING O’Donnell: 45.1 Masthay: 43.0
KICKING Gould: 84 (15/16 PAT; 23/26 FG) Crosby: 75 (24/24 PAT; 17/19 FG)


BEARS: Play 34th Thanksgiving game (2nd in row)…QB JAY CUTLER aims for 4th Thurs. game in row with 2+ TDs…In past 5 vs. GB, RB MATT FORTÉ has 754 scrimmage yards (150.8 per game) & 5 TDs (4 rush, 1 rec.). Rookie RB JEREMY LANGFORD has 5 TDs (4 rush, 1 rec.) in past 5…WR ALSHON JEFFERY has 15 catches for 166 yards (83 per game) & 3 TDs in past 2 on Thurs. TE MARTELLUS BENNETT had TD in Week 1. Since 2014, leads NFL TEs with 140 catches. WR MARQUESS WILSON had 1st 100-yard game (102 yards) last week…LB PERNELL MC PHEE has 5 sacks & INT in his past 7. LB WILLIE YOUNG has sack & INT in past 2. Rookie S ADRIAN AMOS had 1st career sack last week. LB LAMARR HOUSTON has 3 sacks in past 3…PACKERS: Host 1st Thanksgiving game since 1923…QB AARON RODGERS has won 10 of past 11 starts vs. Chi (incl. playoffs) & has 116.1 rating. In past 3 meetings, has 13 TDs, 0 INTs & 146.7 rating. Has thrown 54 TDs vs. 2 INTs with 120.5 rating in past 21 at home (incl. playoffs). Has 14 TDs, 2 INTs & 112.4 rating in 7 Thurs. games…RB EDDIE LACY has TD (4 rush, 1 rec.) in all 5 meetings…WR RANDALL COBB has 6 TDs in past 4 meetings. Has 10 TDs in past 10 vs. division. WR JAMES JONES had 2 TDs in Week 1 & has 7 TDs in past 6 meetings…LB CLAY MATTHEWS has 6.5 sacks & 2 INTs in past 5 meetings.  LB JULIUS PEPPERS has 2.5 sacks, FF & FR in past 2 vs. Chi. In past 5 on Thurs., has 5.5 sacks & 49-yard INT-TD. Is only player in NFL history with 100+ sacks (132) & 10+ INTs (11). DE DATONE JONES had 2 sacks last week. S HA HA CLINTON-DIX leads team with 71 tackles. Has sack & INT in past 2. Rookie CB DAMARIOUS RANDALL leads team with 12 PD.

The Bears on Offense: How to Light the Fire

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 09: of the Chicago Bears of the Dallas Cowboys at Soldier Field on December 9, 2013 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Cowboys 45-28. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

By Bryan Dietzler

The Bears offense was quite stagnant on Sunday going up against the Denver Broncos.  After the previous week in which they hung 37 points on the Rams the Bears were only able to muster 15 points this Sunday.  Granted, they were going against one of the better defenses in the league but this defense had given up quite a few points in the previous two weeks and were ripe for the picking.  They had injuries that were either hobbling or had taken out some of their better players and the Bears had all the momentum heading into this game.  Couple that with the fact that Denver had lost two games and Bears head coach John Fox was playing his old team so he knew them and should have known a few tricks.

The Bears offense could not get going against the strong Broncos defense in their game on Sunday and this was evident with several issues they had during the game.  They were not effective in the red zone, a problem that they had all season and were scoring field goals instead of touchdowns.  Their running game couldn’t get going and they couldn’t control the ball and the clock as a result.  The passing game was less than stellar as, even though they could complete passes and move the ball through the air between the 20’s, they couldn’t get the ball into the end zone.  When the game was winding down they finally punched the ball in on a running play but couldn’t get a two point conversion to tie the game.  The offense was just ineffective.

So what can the Bears do to spark their offense and get it going in the next few games?  Granted, some of the problems that they have had have been consistent issues throughout the season but they are learning and growing so perhaps they can overcome these issues yet this season.  But what issues do they have to overcome and what can they do to overcome them.

The red zone has been a place of many problems for the Bears this season.  They have had a lot of success getting there but they just can’t seem to get into the end zone and instead settle for field goals or come away with no points.  The play calling (done by Adam Gase) has to be better in the red zone as the Bears need to walk away with touchdowns instead of missed opportunities and field goals in that part of the field.  If they can score more points in that area they should have no problems winning games.

Health has been another factor for the Bears and their inability to play well on offense.  Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery has missed a significant amount of time this season and the Bears offense has been hurting without him.  He is a big bodied speed gifted wide receiver that can stretch the field and gives the Bears options over the top of defenders.  Jeffery is an excellent receiver and someone who draws double teams that leave others open to catch passes.  Without him in the lineup the Bears have suffered.  When he has been in the lineup he has gained a ton of yards (except for the Rams game) and has helped the Bears move the ball down the field effectively.

Running back Matt Forte has been also been out with an injury for three games and not having him in the lineup may have hurt the Bears a little.  His replacement, Jeremy Langford, shined in the first two games after Forte was out but struggled in the Bears loss against the Broncos.  Many question if Forte would have been able to put up a better effort against Denver had he been in the game.  Getting Forte back will help the offense out a lot and if they use a combination of Forte and Langford the one two punch might be just enough to crack a team’s defense and gain a lot of yards.

The play calling, as mentioned, has left a little something to be desired and has been poor at critical points in the game.  The best example of poor play calling came when the Bears tried and failed to get the two point conversion in the Denver game.  Now we aren’t sure if that was Gase’s original call or something that quarterback Jay Cutler called at the line of scrimmage but either way the play was a bad one for the defense that the Broncos gave them on that play.  The Bears could have called a better play in that instance but failed to do so and that has happened several times in other situations this season.  Gase is a master with offense but his play calling leaves a little something to be desired.

Cutler has been very good for the most part through several games this season but took a bit of a tumble in the game against the Broncos throwing two interceptions and struggling to complete passes down the field.  Cutler has improved a lot this season and has done well for the most part but struggles when he doesn’t have a solid supporting cast around him (like when he is missing Jeffery).  Cutler has to step it up and play better in the Bears next few games if he wants to give this team any shot of making the playoffs.  He can be better and needs to be better in the upcoming games or the Bears aren’t going to win too many of these next few contests.

So what can right the ship for the Bears on offense?  Well better play calling is one thing that will do it.  Gase needs to come up with and call better plays in certain situations in the game and get the Bears either down the field or into the end zone.  Health is also a big factor in the Bear’s offense improving and if they can get their key players back and healthy again then they will be that much better.  And of course better execution on the field would be a plus.  If the Bears can improve upon these things and get better on offense then they will win more games.

There is an interesting test coming up for the Bears this Thursday night against their division rival the Packers.  The Bears offense had a somewhat decent game against them in their first game and the offense has, for the most part, improved since that game.  It looks like Chicago will have Forte back so that will give them a boost in the running game and they might have a rested Jeffery back and that will help out a lot in the passing game.  If Gase can call the right plays and if the Packer’s defense isn’t too tough the Bears will have an excellent shot of at least competing with the Packers on offense.  If they play another game like they did against the Broncos its going to be a long night for Chicago.

Chicago Bears versus the Denver Broncos: Five Keys to the Game


By Bryan Dietzler

The Bears went into their matchup against the Denver Broncos with high hopes that they would come out victorious as head coach John Fox was facing his old team, a team that he knows, and many thought Chicago would be able to pick them apart. They were also facing a new quarterback in Brock Osweiler and sure enough there was to be a learning curve for him and he wasn’t going to be playing all that well. The Bears had been playing some good football lately and things seemed like they were going to play right into their hands. But it wasn’t meant to be for the Bears as they lost to the Broncos at Soldier Field 17-15.

This wasn’t a good game for the Bears in many ways. The offense just couldn’t get anything going against a strong Broncos defense as both the running and the passing attacks could get much going. The Bears only managed one touchdown in the contest and that came late. Chicago couldn’t control the ball and the clock allowing the Broncos to move the ball up and down the field possessing it for a majority of the game. The defense was bad against the run in this game and couldn’t figure out a way to stop Osweiler who had a pretty decent game. Overall this was a tough game for the Bears on both sides of the ball as they just couldn’t pull out a victory.

The following is a look at five things the Bears did or didn’t do against the Broncos on Sunday. There is a look at some individuals who did or didn’t perform well as well as some units as a whole. Final impressions of the game are given at the end of this posting.

Mistake Free-Believe it or not the Bears played a penalty free game against the Broncos. While the Broncos were called for several infractions on the day the Bears weren’t called for any and this is definitely one good thing the Bears can take out of this game. If they can play close to or similar to this in future games they should have some success. This could be the strongest positive that can be taken away from this game.

The Ugly Cutler Returns-Quarterback Jay Cutler had two interceptions in the game, one was clearly his fault and the other, the one where he got hit and the ball came out of his hand, wasn’t so much his fault as it was a good defensive play. Cutler didn’t have any touchdown passes in this game and didn’t throw for a ton of yards as he was missing his best wide receiver in Alshon Jeffery. When he was able to get the ball out he was getting it out pretty well but the defense just had good coverage on his receivers and he wasn’t able to complete that many passes. Luckily the picks he threw didn’t cost the Bears too much but he still made mistakes that could have instead allowed for continued drives and points for the Bears in the long run.

Injury Update-The Bears played this game without Jeffery, as mentioned, and didn’t have Eddie Royal or Antrel Rolle in the lineup. Without Jeffery, the Bears weren’t able to stretch the defense and complete a lot of passes down the field or force the defense to double cover Jeffery and open the way for other receivers. His being out definitely hurt the offense. Rolle was somewhat of a surprise to be out of the game but he had just suffered a knee injury in practice to go along with his ankle injury so holding him out of this game may have been a good idea by the coaching staff. The Bears seemed to suffer a little bit with Rolle out of the lineup because passes were allowed to be completed over the middle and he could have helped in run support. Royal being out hurt the passing game and Matt Forte was out once again in this game. His replacement, Jeremy Langford, did not have that good of a game but it’s unlikely that Forte would have fared any better against this tough Broncos defense.

More Pass Rush?-The Bears got to Osweiler several times in this game but, for the most part, didn’t get to him enough to knock him around and force him off his game. Osweiler had a good game throwing the ball for a player that hadn’t played all that much and part of that was because the Bears failed to reach him at critical times in the game. They did get to him early on a couple of times but overall the pass rush was spotty and didn’t put enough pressure on him. Had they gotten to him more they might have been able to slow him down and Chicago might have won the game.

Run Defense Absent-Despite what the numbers said before this game the Bears had actually been doing a pretty good job containing the run on defense. They hadn’t allowed a lot of rushing touchdowns on the season and they had contained a lot of running backs in their wins. They weren’t able to stop the duo of Ronnie Hillman and CJ Anderson in this one and the Broncos successful ground game allowed them to hold onto the ball controlling that and the clock. The Broncos came into this game with one of the poorer rushing offenses in all of the NFL and walked out looking like a true running team. The Bears defense has to do a better job of containing the run.

The Bears went up against one of the best defenses in football (if not the best) and a win just escaped them. This, coming one week after they took on one of the better defenses in the league and had their way with them. The Broncos defense did a good job of shutting the Bears offense down but the play calling, as called by Adam Gase, could have been a little better in certain situations. Not having some key players due to injury also hampered things especially on offense for the Bears and caused them problems. Had they been fully healthy this game might have had a different outcome.

The defense had no answer for trying to stop Osweiler and the Broncos rushing attack on Sunday. The newly minted starter was able to easily complete passes down the field as the Bears failed to get a solid and consistent rush on him. The running game tore gaping holes in the Bear’s defense and allowed Denver to control the ball and the clock as a result. The Bears didn’t have enough opportunity or time to possess the ball. Their normally stout defense was shaken up in this game and didn’t recover.

The Bears will play the Green Bay Packers on Thanksgiving night and hopes are high that they will be able to put up a good fight against this suddenly resurgent team. The Bears will pray for good health in that they get all their players back for this one and can compete well with the Packers. It should be a good game as this is a better Bears team than the one that the Packers faced in the first game of the season.

Chicago Bears versus the Denver Broncos Game Preview

broncos bears

By Bryan Dietzler

The 4-5 Chicago Bears will be at Soldier Field this Sunday to take on the seemingly reeling 7-2 Denver Broncos.  The Bears are coming off a well-played and solid victory over the St. Louis Rams while the Broncos lost their second game in a row in losing to the Kansas City Chiefs.  Not only did the Broncos lose that game but they lost their starting quarterback, Peyton Manning, for a period of time and it is known that Manning is not going to play in the game this Sunday.  Instead, the Broncos will start backup Brock Osweiler and hope that he can carry them to victory.

The following is an in depth look at the matchup between the Bears and the Broncos in their game this Sunday.  There is some insight into individual player performances that have to take place in order for the Bears to win this game as well as unit performances.  There is a look at the injury factor and how that might play out in this game as well as a final score prediction.

The Bears offense exploded against the Rams last Sunday and hopes are high that this kind of offensive performance can continue this Sunday.  The Bears racked up solid numbers against one of the NFL’s better defenses and will play another tough defense when they face the Broncos.  Both the running game and the passing game did well as the Bears were able to find balance in both and they will hope that continues in the game this Sunday.

In the passing game, quarterback Jay Cutler is having one of his better seasons since coming to the Bears.  He is keeping the mistakes to a minimum, he is finding his open receivers and his mechanics throwing the ball have improved.  He is also changing plays at the line of scrimmage that are coming out positively and is doing a pretty good job overall.  He has reliable targets at the tight end position and has used wide receiver Alshon Jeffery to the best of his abilities in several games this season.  Whether it’s the offense that Adam Gase is calling or the fact that Cutler just might finally be getting better remains to be seen but the passing game has gotten better this season.

In the passing game, the Bears are averaging 238.1 yards through the air per game.  The Broncos defense is allowing teams to gain 182.8 yards per game through the air so the Broncos pass defense is pretty stout.  Will the Bears be able to pass the ball against the stout Broncos defense?  In playing the Rams last week, another team with a strong pass defense, the Bears found that quick passes and screen plays seemed to work best so the Bears may want to try them out in this game.  The Broncos have a stellar pass rush but they may be missing one of their key members in De’Marcus Ware this Sunday so the Bears may get lucky and not have to be concerned about him.

Jeffery has been limited this week in practice with injuries so he may or may not play in this game.  He played hurt in the Bears game against the Rams and wasn’t that affective although he wasn’t targeted that much because he was well covered by the Rams secondary.  The Broncos have a pretty good secondary that might be able to lock down Jeffery in this game.  If that becomes the case then Cutler is going to have to look to others to catch the ball.  He has had good success throwing to his tight ends (Zach Miller and Martellus Bennett) as well as the running backs.  With this kind of defense and the way it gets pressure, we may see a similar game plan like the Bears did against the Rams.

Running the football was supposed to be tough against the Rams and the Bears worked their magic against them and had a pretty successful day running the football.  On a per game basis, Chicago is rushing for an average of 114 yards per game which isn’t that much but has been enough to get them by.  The Broncos are holding opponents to just 94.6 yards of rushing per game so the Bears may find it difficult to run the ball.  Granted they did have success against the Rams tough run defense last week but this is a different team and a different set-up so the Bears may not have much success running the ball against the Broncos this week.  But they are going to try to establish the ground game and see how far they can get.

We might see running back Matt Forte back in action this week.  The Bears coaching staff has sort of “hinted” that he might be returning and that would be good news for the Bears.  Jeremy Langford has done very well in Forte’s absence and if Forte does come back the Bears might be able to have a one-two punch that they could throw at the Broncos defense and see if any one of the two running backs has success against this stout run defense.  If Forte does not go in this game then the Bears do have a quality duo in Langford and Ka’Deem Carey but will they be able to get the job done on the ground?  This will be a tough test for the Bears running game.

All eyes are on Hroniss Grasu as the Bears may have to use the same offensive line combination that they have used in the past few games due to Grasu’s injury.  If the Bears have to go with this lineup they should be ok because this lineup has done pretty well over the last few games.  If Grasu does come back and plays then the Bears could be better off as they will put their players (like Matt Slauson) back in their natural positons.  With this the Bears could have some success in the running game and in pass protection.  Hopefully the line will be able to play well and give the Bears opportunities up front.

As mentioned, the Broncos will be starting Osweiler at quarterback this Sunday in lieu of Manning.  Osweiler, in relief of Manning, had a decent enough game against the Chiefs last Sunday and with a full week of practice he should be much more prepared to take on the Bears this Sunday.  Osweiler is a tall athletic quarterback that can move and the Broncos coaching staff is going to build a game plan that takes advantages of his strengths.  Osweiler is somewhat of an unknown in this game and it will be tough to tell just how he might play and how he will perform.  Will he perform like an experienced quarterback or will he make the mistakes and have the jitters that most backup quarterbacks starting out do?  The Bears will hope it’s the latter.

With Manning in the lineup, the Broncos offense is averaging 245.7 yards per game which is a pretty good average.  The Bears defense is giving up 217 yards per game through the air so the defense has been keeping teams from gaining a lot of yards on them through the air.  In their last game, against the Rams, they played a team with a relatively ineffective quarterback and kept him at bay for the most part.  As mentioned, they come into this game playing a quarterback that they aren’t sure about so this will be interesting.

Chicago may be playing this game without one of their star pass rushing threats in Pernell McPhee.  McPhee missed the last game with a knee injury and really didn’t practice this week.  In his place, outside linebackers Lamar Houston and Willie Young played pretty well but McPhee is hard to replace.  He often draws the attention of double teams and the offense concentrates on trying to stop him because he is that good.  He is one of the best, if not the best, defender on the Bears at this time.  So not having him in the lineup would be a detriment.

If the Bears are going to have success on defense they need to pressure Osweiler and force him to make bad throws that could lead to incompletions or interceptions.  This would be the best way to throw him off his mark and give the Broncos passing offense problems.  They also need to blanket their wide receivers and so far this season both Tracy Porter and Kyle Fuller have done a good job of covering opponents pass catchers and knocking down passes.  Porter had a good game knocking down passes against both the Chargers and the Rams game and he could get more opportunities here.

Look for the Bears to pressure Osweiler and try to keep him from completing a lot of passes to his receivers, tight ends and running backs.  If they can get to him, knock him around a little and throw him off his game then they should have success on defense.  If they allow him to sit back and pick off the defense then it’s going to be long day.

The Broncos lead running back is Ronnie Hillman.  He is averaging 4.1 yards per carry.  The Broncos as a team are averaging just 86 yards per game on the ground so the Bears, who are allowing teams to rush for an average of 118 yards per game may give up a few yards but that total is a little deceptive.  Chicago held star rookie running back Todd Gurley to under 50 yards in their previous game and this team is stout against the run.  Look for the Bears to do a good job of containing the run in this game forcing the backup quarterback Osweiler to pass the ball more.  This could play into the Bears game plan and they could handle the Broncos offense well.

This is going to be an interesting game.  Bears head coach John Fox and most of his staff come from Denver after having coached there the previous few seasons so they know this team well.  That should play into the Bears advantage.  Not having Manning starting should also be an advantage for the Bears as they will not have to play one of the best quarterbacks in league history.  So quite frankly this game should be pretty even.  But the Broncos defense is one of the toughest in the NFL and the Bears will have their work cut out for them trying to overcome this tough unit.

Assuredly there is going to be a bit of a revenge factor for Fox and the Bears in this game.  Also, keep in mind that this is the first time that Cutler has faced his former team since they traded him to the Bears several years ago.  So there is a huge motivation to win this game coming from many different angles.  If the Bears can overcome the Broncos defense and keep Osweiler from beating them then they have an excellent chance of winning this game and gaining their third win in a row.  And playing at home, the fans are going to be behind the Bears here and they are going to want to get a win for the fans.  This could easily be another win for the Bears.

Prediction: Chicago 24 Denver 13

Chicago Bears Weekly Injury Analysis


By Bryan Dietzler

It’s a new week and there is a new game coming up this Sunday for the Bears as they go up against the Denver Broncos at Soldier Field.  Chicago has been relatively lucky in the past two games to not have suffered any major injuries and at this point they are just resting players in their daily practices and giving them time to heal before game day.  There were some very talented players missing from the lineup this last Sunday against the Rams as the Bears didn’t have outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, running back Matt Forte or wide receiver Eddie Royal in the lineup.  They also kept center Hroniss Grasu inactive.

The following is a look at the injury report from Wednesday’s practice and each player that was on that injury report.  There is a look at each player on the injury report, what might happen to that player the rest of the week and where they stand coming up for the Bears game against the Broncos this Sunday.  There is also a little bit about how the player’s absence may affect them in their game this coming Sunday.

Jermon Bushrod-Bushrod has been hampered by a shoulder injury for quite some time and he has been active the past few games but is not seeing any action.  Bushrod had full participation in practice Wednesday.  He was the starter at the left tackle position prior to his suffering a concussion and Charles Leno Jr. took over playing very well in Bushrod’s absence.  Bushrod hasn’t been able to get his starting job back since going out with the concussion and may not get his starting job back the rest of the year.  It is nice to know that he is available in case anything should happen to Leno Jr. but for right now Bushrod is just a backup.

Matt Forte-Forte has missed two games with an MCL injury and was limited in practice on Wednesday.  In his place, rookie running back Jeremy Langford has played very well so the Bears may not be rushing to bring him back so he may not be back for their game against the Broncos.  Forte adds a unique dimension to this offense but his absence from the team hasn’t been noticed so much with Langford playing well above expectations.  If he does come back the Bears will probably platoon the running backs and give them equal carries or see who has the hot hand early and then go with that player.  But it’s very likely that the Bears will sit Forte again in this game and give him time to heal.

Hroniss Grasu-Grasu has missed a few games with a neck injury and was limited in practice this Wednesday.  Grasu’s absence has caused the offensive line to be reshuffled and while this reshuffling doesn’t look good on paper it has been relatively effective in their recent games.  It’s tough to tell what the Bears will do with Grasu this week as it all depends on the severity of his injury.  They may decide to go with the same offensive line combination that has worked for them the past few games and give him more time to heal.  Consider him to be “up in the air” for this Sunday’s game against the Broncos as the Bears probably won’t make any decision on him until just before game time.

Alshon Jeffery-Jeffery was hampered by a groin injury in the Bears game against the Rams and just recently it came out that he has a shoulder injury as well.  Jeffery didn’t practice most of last week and was limited in his practice on Wednesday.  The Bears left it up to a last minute decision last Sunday to play Jeffery against the Rams so it can be assured, like they always do, the Bears will make another last minute decision to play him or not play him in their upcoming game.  Jeffery is an important part of the offense (although he was virtually shut out in the game against the Rams and didn’t have a huge impact) and the Bears have a better chance of winning with him in the lineup.  Look for Jeffery to remain limited in practice the rest of the week but play on Sunday.

Shea McClellin-McClellin made his first start in several games last Sunday and played extremely well despite the fact he was still feeling the effects of the knee injury he suffered against the Chiefs.  McClellin was limited in practice on Wednesday with the same knee injury he suffered several weeks ago but for him, the limited practice could be just a precaution to keep him from working too hard on that knee thus saving him for the game this Sunday.  Look for McClellin to start on Sunday against the Broncos but remain limited in practice this week.

Pernell McPhee-McPhee has been nursing a knee injury for quite some time now and it finally got to the point he ended up missing the Rams game because of it.  McPhee did not practice on Wednesday and it’s likely that he will not practice the rest of the week.  What does this mean for McPhee playing on Sunday?  The defense did a pretty decent job without him in the lineup as both Lamarr Houston and Willie Young had solid games so perhaps giving McPhee another game off to rest and heal up may be just what the Bears decide to do.  It can be assured that the Bears will wait until the final few hours before the game to decide on what to do with McPhee but it’s very likely he will be sitting out this game.

Antrel Rolle-Rolle missed some time earlier this season with an ankle injury and is most likely just resting it and taking it easy to save himself for game day.   Rolle was limited in practice last week as he was this Wednesday but he should be in the starting lineup come Sunday against the Broncos.  Look for Rolle to be starting this Sunday helping to solidify the secondary.

Eddie Royal-Royal has missed some time with a knee injury and it doesn’t look like things are getting any better for the wide receiver.  Royal hasn’t practiced for quite some time and was not practicing this Wednesday.  It would appear as if Royal isn’t going to be available for the game this Sunday and the Bears will miss having him in the lineup but have gotten by without him.  Royal was thought to be an answer for the Bears at the slot receiver position this year when they signed him during the offseason but injuries have kept him out of a lot of action this year and it just doesn’t look like it’s working out for him and the Bears.

Matt Slauson-Slauson was a full participant in practice with elbow and ankle injuries and it doesn’t appear as if anything is going to hold him back from starting this Sunday.  The only question is, which position will he start at?  If Grasu is out he will be starting, again, at center but if the rookie is able to make it back into the lineup than Slauson can switch back to his position at guard.  It remains to be seen.  Either way Slauson looks like he will be healthy and ready to go for the game this Sunday.

It will be interesting to see what happens with Forte and McPhee this weekend.  The Bears appear to be poised to bring Forte back but they could let him rest one more game after seeing what Langford can do.  The combination of Houston and Young has helped overcome the loss of McPhee so the Bears may decide to let him sit.  Aside from Royal, it appears as if all the other players on the injury report are going to play this Sunday.  Hopefully the Bears don’t have any more injuries this week against the Broncos that they will have to worry about for next week.

Player Profile: Zach Miller

zach miller

By Bryan Dietzler

The Bears have been pouring over waiver wires, other team’s practice squads and the free agent scrap heap trying to find players that can come in and fit their system.  They have spent a lot of time evaluating players to see if they are the right fit.  And they have carried over some of the players that played during former head coach Marc Trestman’s regime to see if they are good fits.  Some of those players have worked out while others have gone away replaced by new players that the new regime has brought in.

One of those hold over players that has, in just the past two games, worked out very well is tight end Zach Miller.  Miller, who was quiet to start the season has recently burst onto the scene with well above average play and a knack for catching passes.  This has been a true “coming out” party for Miller over the past couple of games and there could be much more on the way from this dynamic player.

The following is a look at Miller’s short and injury filled career in the NFL.  There is a look at some of the statistics that he has posted in his career as well as a little bit about where he has been and what the future holds for him.

Miller was born October 4th, 1984.  He played his high school ball at Bishop Neumann High School in Wahoo, Nebraska where he earned All-State honors as a senior.  He was also very good at basketball and earned All-State honorable mention honors in that sport.  He did have school records in football as a senior passing for 1,200 yards and rushing for 980 yards.

Miller began his college career at the University of Nebraska as a walk on but later transferred to the University of Nebraska-Omaha.  While was at UNO he was a three year captain of the football team and was basically a quarterback until later on in his career.  While playing quarterback he passed for 4096 yards and had 26 touchdowns.  He also rushed for a total of 3122 yards and 50 touchdowns which is a school record.

His first try as a tight end came in the team’s game in the 2009 Valero Cactus Bowl and scouts saw him as a tight end after that and that’s how his NFL career would end up is as a tight end.

At his school’s pro day, Miller put up some good measurable the most notable running a 4.53 in the 40 yard dash.  His pro day, his athleticism and his play in college almost assured him that he would get drafted.  Miller was indeed drafted, by the Jacksonville Jaguars, in the sixth round (180th Overall) of the 2009 NFL draft.

For the 2009 season, Miller played in a total of 14 games catching 21 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns.  He did miss two games with a knee injury.  In his 2010 season with the Jaguars, Miller had 20 catches for 216 yards and one touchdown.  He started in five of 15 games for Jacksonville but missed the final game of the season due to a concussion.

In the 2011 season Miller caught just four passes for 42 yards and missed some significant time with injuries during that season.  In the 2012 season Miller would be placed on injured reserve prior to the start of the season.  He was waived as injured from the Jaguars a little later on that year but wasn’t picked up by any teams during the year.

Miller landed in Tampa Bay but his stay there didn’t last long as he was cut just prior to the start of the season.  Miller was out of football up until December of 2013 when he was signed by the Bears to a reserve/future contract.

He played the 2014 preseason and had some very good plays in that stretch and looked like a promising player at the tight end position. It was not meant to be however as Miller suffered a foot injury in and was placed on season ending injured reserve not able to return to game action until the following preseason.  It was thought, by some, that this might be his last go round in the NFL.  He spent a lot of time injured and just couldn’t get out of the training room.

The Bears saw some potential in Miller though and signed him to a contract extension in February of 2015.  He made it through preseason unscathed and played regularly for the Bears in their games.  His big moment came, first, when he caught a one-handed 25 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jay Cutler against the San Diego Chargers on Monday night football.  He would follow up that strong performance with an 87 yard touchdown catch and run against the Rams this past Sunday.  He also caught another touchdown pass in that game.  All told, he had five catches for 107 total yards.

As long as he can stay healthy, the future looks bright for Miller.  Showing what he has been capable of has cemented him as a fixture on offense and it can be assured that Cutler will be looking his way more often when he has to get rid of the ball.  Miller should see more looks and more touches as the season goes on and could become a larger part of the Bears offense.

Look for Miller to stick around for yet another season next year as long as health doesn’t become a factor for him.  His health has caused him to miss a lot of time in his career and he is just finally starting to get back on track and play well.  It will be important that he remains healthy for the rest of the season and beyond because one more injury that causes him to miss a lot of time could signal the end of his NFL career.  Keep a close eye on Miller.  He is bound to have a stellar year and contribute well on offense of the Bears this season.

What to do About Forte?


By Bryan Dietzler

The Bears have been without star starting running back Matt Forte for two games now.  It was thought that Chicago’s offense would suffer greatly with him out of the lineup and several experts predicted doom and gloom for the Bears rushing and receiving attack.  The Bears had a fairly untested backup in Jeremy Langford who hadn’t played all that much and no one knew what they would get out of him.  Well after two games Langford has done very well going well over 100 yards total in both games and has given the Bears offense the spark it needed to help them win these last two contests.

With Langford playing so well the fan base is starting to wonder what the Bears should do about Forte in the coming free agency period.  Forte’s contract is over at the end of this season and he will become a free agent when the free agency hits in the spring.  The Bears have made no effort to talk to him about getting a new contract and it doesn’t appear as if they are going to do anything during the season.  And with Langford playing very well it’s going to be difficult for the Bears to go to Forte and offer him a good deal that might be amicable for Forte because they know they have Langford waiting in the wings to take over.  That might cause the Bears to not offer Forte a new contract allowing him to hit free agency and sign with another team.

Is allowing Forte to leave via free agency a wise idea for the Bears?  What do they do if Langford goes down?  Granted Ka’Deem Carey has been able to carry his share of the load in games since Forte has been out but would he be a long term answer if Langford was to go down for a while?  Would the Bears, upon losing Forte to free agency, have to draft another running back to back up Langford?  Would they be able to find a running back in free agency to take over?

It’s also good to think that having both Langford and Forte on the roster at the same time would be of some benefit to the Bears.  Forte could start and Langford could fill in and back him up as needed and this would give the offense a powerful one two punch that would keep teams off guard and help them pile up a ton of yardage.  Some teams have two running backs that they rely on to share the load and this wouldn’t be any different.  The Bears could be more creative on offense and have a more powerful “punch” on that side of the ball.

So what should the Bears do with Forte?  Should they let him go in free agency and sign with another team or should they try to sign him and bring him back?  One possibility is that the Bears don’t sign him and let him test the waters of free agency to see how much money he can get.  If they can match another offer (seeing what his market value is) perhaps they will get him at a lower price and can have an agreement with him that will be good for both sides.  Forte has stated that he would like to remain a Bear for the rest of his career so perhaps he will give them a “hometown” discount for having them resign him.  That might make it easier for the Bears to bring him back.

But the Bears might not decide to go this route and let Forte walk in free agency.  Some of the things that may be on Chicago’s mind with Forte is that he is nearing the age of 30 (he will be 30 by the end of the season).  There aren’t a ton of successful 30 year old running backs in the NFL right now.  They may also be considering the wear and tear that Forte has on him in thinking that he doesn’t have much longer to go before he breaks down.  But Forte has shown himself to be very durable (although he has missed some time with an injury) and could last another one to two seasons with the Bears or with another NFL team.

Fans are sure to want Forte to stick around for another couple of seasons or more.  He is a fan favorite and one of the players that can be considered a star on this team.  If the Bears chose to keep him and not allow him to go into the free agent market then they will have one of the best backfield combinations in the NFL and that will make their offense that much better.  If they chose to let Forte go then they will be relying on a (by then) second year player who doesn’t have a lot of experience and doesn’t have an ideal backup.

What would be nice is to have Langford back up Forte for a couple more seasons.  But will the Bears be willing to risk the money and the time investment in having Forte back.  It will be an interesting offseason in seeing what Chicago decides to do with Forte.  Will he stay or will he go?  It remains to be seen.

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