by Bryan Dietzler
The 0-1 Chicago Bears will travel to the Mile-High City to take on the 0-1 Denver Broncos. The Bears are coming off a 10-3 loss to the Packers at home while the Broncos were beaten by the Oakland Raiders 24-16.
This game’s biggest storyline must be the fact that Chicago’s former defensive coordinator, Vic Fangio will be taking on his former team as head coach of the Broncos. It’s been talked about for months and the day has finally arrived.
Who has the upper hand?
This promises to be an interesting game. With Fangio knowing the Bears offense, or at least last year’s offense, we can only hope that Matt Nagy and company changed enough to make it harder on Fangio. In addition to that, Fangio’s defense should be a little tougher in week two. Will the Bears’ offense be able to pick it up and get it right or will they falter?
Let’s hope its’ the latter.
They face a rebuilding Denver defense with an experienced quarterback in Joe Flacco. While Flacco has proven himself to be a winner in the past, he is nowhere close to the way he used to be. He’s on the decline. And with the rest of the offense around him, which is rebuilding, you can bet they are primed to struggle.
And the Bears’ defense will be up for the challenge.
Plenty of pressure on Flacco will help stop the Denver passing attack. Get some pressure on him forcing him to make mistakes and Chicago will have an easy time of stopping their offense.
The Bears’ defense is not a question mark, not like their offense is. The defense is stout and remains that way, from last season, even with new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. They should be able to have a strong game against Denver this Sunday.
The stars of the defense, Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, and Eddie Jackson all contributed strongly to the Bears’ effort against the Packers. Look for them to have an impact on this game and help carry the Bears to victory.
It’s too early in the season for rankings so we won’t get into those today. Looking at some of the statistics from last week’s game, Flacco threw for 268 yards completing 21 out of 31 passes. He threw for a touchdown as well which happened to be the only touchdown of the game for the Broncos. Otherwise, their field goal kicker put up the most points and kept them in the game somewhat.
The Bronco’s rushing attack gained 95 yards against the Raiders on Monday night. Their average per carry ended up being around five. That came in limited carries by four players, including one that lost five yards on the ground. Their leading rusher was Royce Freeman who had ten carries for 56 yards.
Chicago’s defense does well against the run so look for them to shut down that aspect of the Bronco’s game forcing them to pass the ball. Guys like Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan will knock the running game down in the middle while Mack and Leonard Floyd take it to the Broncos from the edge.
The opportunity to get some sacks will be good on Sunday.
Shutting down the run means that they will force Flacco and his wide receiving corps to throw the ball more. That gives guys like Mack and Floyd a chance to pin their ears back and get a good pass rush going. And with the state that Denver’s offensive line is in right now, this might be a big game for them.
You can pretty much figure that the Bears defense isn’t going to have much trouble taking care of the Broncos’ offense. Unless something weird happens and Denver’s offense suddenly figures things out, the Bears defense should hold them to a relatively low points total.
The buzz around the football world is that the Broncos’ defense didn’t play anywhere close to the expectations that were had for it. You would think that the defensive-minded Fangio would have had the defense installed and ready to go. But that was not the case.
Will the defense show up for this game or will the Bears finally be able to get things back on track, on offense, and become world beaters?
Denver’s defense allowed the seemingly lowly Raiders to score 24 points which isn’t terrible but when your offense is only able to put up 16 you need your defense to help as much as possible.
Denver’s defense couldn’t do that.
Last week, they allowed quarterback Derek Carr to throw for 259 yards and a touchdown. The Raiders had a 100-yard receiver in the game to boot.
Now the Bears can throw the ball, Mitchell Trubisky has proven that he can, but they just need to make sure he has time to throw the ball. Another thing that Trubisky cannot do is lock on to one receiver and follow him, with his eyes, down the field. He did that with Alan Robinson last week and while Robinson had over 100 yards, the passing game was still quite inept.
We will cross our fingers in hopes that Trubisky has time to throw the ball. This is because Denver boasts two great pass rushers in Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. Put together, they are one of the top pass-rushing tandems in the NFL. Chicago’s offensive line, which had a rough game against the Packers, needs to come together quickly to help stem what will be a tide of pass-rushing on Sunday.
(NOTE: The Broncos didn’t have any sacks against the Raiders on Monday night).
If Trubisky and the offense can’t get the passing game going, they will have to rely on the rushing attack which is manned by Mike Davis and David Montgomery. This week, Nagy confirmed that Montgomery would see more touches. That’s important because he is probably the best runner on the team and someone that the Bears need to get going early on.
Look for the Bears to establish the rushing attack to help take some of the heat off Trubisky and the offensive line. I think that we could see the first 100-yard rusher of the season on Sunday.
I mentioned that Robinson was a big target for the Bears last week. That’s good but the Bears still need to spread the ball around more. Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller are two guys that Trubisky can rely upon to get the ball to and get some big gains. The tight end position is a little rocky right now, with Trey Burton’s injury still a possibility to keep him out of the game.
It’s tough to rely on that group to do much.
If the Bears’ offensive line can keep Trubisky clean, the Bears will have success passing.
Trubisky must step up and make better decisions as well for Chicago to win this game.
Special teams, particularly kicking field goals, has been a point of contention for the Bears over the few months. It appeared, last week against the Packers, that the coaching staff doesn’t trust kicker Eddie Pinero. The Bears must get over that. They need to allow him a chance to kick and keep the Bears’ scoring. If they don’t trust the kicking game, then there will be lots of issues for the Bears this season.
We all know that this game puts the former coordinator against the head coach that once coached with him. Who has the edge? Fangio is crafty and will give the Bears problems right out of the gate. Will Nagy be able to outfox the old coach and coach his team to a win?
In the end, this looks like a game that the Bears should easily win. They are put together better than the Broncos and they have the upper hand on defense. If the Bears can improve over their last game and play better on offense, they are a lock to win.
Score Prediction: Chicago 21 Denver 10