By Bryan Dietzler
The Chicago Bears and the Oakland Raiders will head to London to play a late afternoon game (for us it will be at 12 CST) and entertain thousands of fans in England. The Bears are coming into this game having won a convincing victory over the Minnesota Vikings 16-6. The Raiders come into this game with a record of 2-2. They beat the Indianapolis Colts, last Sunday, 31-24.
Chicago comes in looking very good on defense while their offense could struggle. Quarterback Mitchell Trubisky is out and while they fared better with Chase Daniel at the helm last week, there is tape on him now so his tendencies can be discovered and a much better defensive effort can be put forth against him.
Will the Raiders shut Daniels down?
Let’s look at the numbers and some thoughts on the Bears versus the Raiders game coming up this Sunday in London.
Bears on Offense
We know that Daniel will be the starter this week while Trubisky nurses a dislocated shoulder. Daniels performed well in relief of Trubisky against the Vikings. Now, however, the Raiders have some idea of how he plays and will present a challenge for Daniels. Will he be able to overcome the challenge and play even better this week?
It’s hard to use passing game statistics for the Bears because it’s a different quarterback making his first start of the season. Instead, we should look at what the Raiders defense does against the pass and see if the Bears will have any success passing the ball.
Oakland is ranked 24th in the NFL allowing 25.5 points a game. They are letting opponents gain 385.5 yards per contest which is 22nd in the NFL. When it comes to passing the ball, the Raiders are ranked 27th allowing opponents to pass for 281 yards per game.
Will the Bears be able to pass the ball against this Raiders team? It all starts up front and the Bears offensive line, which has suffered some injuries as of late, needs to keep Daniel clean. If they can do that and give him some time to throw the ball, the sky’s the limit for him and his group of receivers.
Chicago’s leading receiver, Allen Robinson, has been a reliable target for whoever is playing quarterback and will be a key in this game. So will Anthony Miller who is having a less than stellar season. It’s looking like Taylor Gabriel won’t be available (concussion) so Robinson and Miller, along with Javon Wims, will be the key for the Bears to help move the ball down the field.
The Bears will need all hands on deck when it comes to the passing game and moving the ball down the field. It’s important that they control the ball and the clock in this instance so getting the passing game going is a must. But with questions surrounding the offensive line as well as Daniels, it’s going to be tough to think of what the Bears will be able to do throwing the ball down the field.
A good move would be getting the tight ends involved. Trey Burton appears to be healthy and Adam Shaheen has made some nice catches recently. Getting the ball out to the running backs would also be a huge help. We know that Tarik Cohen is capable of catching the ball.
Will they utilize the running backs and tight ends as pass catchers?
The running game has been cold, for the most part, this season. The Bears are currently ranked 25th in the league averaging 90.2 yards per game. They just cannot seem to get the running game going strong and this has been a problem. They need to get it going to not only control the ball and the clock but to also keep their defense off the field.
The Raiders rushing defense is ranked 16th allowing 104.5 yards per game. Look for the Bears, in particular, David Montgomery and Cohen, to find holes to exploit and get those tough yards on the ground.
The Bears won’t win if they can’t run the ball. It’s time that their rushing attack has a breakout game.
In other statistical categories, the Bears come in 28th in points. Their total yards per game is 273.5 which is 30th.
Something has to give. The Bears’ offense has to get better if they plan to win this and other games.
Bears on Defense
Last week’s performance against the Minnesota Vikings was the stuff of legends. Had they not allowed the lone Vikings touchdown, this game would have gone down as one of their best.
Can they do the same thing that they did last Sunday this Sunday against the Raiders?
The answer is yes!
The Bears have the number two defense in the NFL when you look at all the statistics and rankings. They are currently allowing just 11.2 points per game which is currently second in the NFL. The Raiders are scoring an average of 19.8 points per game which is 21st. It looks like the Bears could keep them at bay when it comes to scoring.
But there is a lot more to scoring than just numbers. Scoring is based on how well you perform against the pass and the run. Let’s see how the Bears fare on defense in those categories.
The Raiders are well adept at rushing the football. They are averaging 125.8 yards per game which is 9th in the league. Their leading rusher, Josh Jacobs, is averaging 4.6 yards per rush. But the Bears are allowing just 61.5 yards per game on the ground which is good for third in the league. That’s a solid defense.
We remember how the Vikings had a very good running game heading into their game against the Bears. Chicago shut them down. They can and will do that in this game. Don’t look for a breakout rushing game by the Raiders in this one.
The Bears defense does have its moments when working against the pass but luckily the Raiders aren’t that well adept at passing. They are ranked 26th in the NFL averaging 210 yards per game through the air. The Bears defense allows 229.2 yards per game making them the 12th ranked pass defense in the league.
Chicago’s pass defense needs to be on top of its game to prevent the Raiders from winning this one. Look for lots of pressure from the Bears’ front as Khalil Mack will be bent on getting after his old team. I expect him to have a huge game. You should also expect to see guys like Leonard Floyd and Roy Robertson-Harris to have big games as well.
I could see this easily being a six, or more, sack effort by the Bears’ defense.
For overall offense, the Raiders are ranked 21st in the league totaling 335.8 yards per game. The Bears are shutting down opponents ranking 5th in the league allowing 290.8 yards.
The Bears can’t afford to have a slip up against the Raiders in this game. They must continue to perform as they have been. But it doesn’t appear that Chicago will slip up.
Bears’ kicker Eddy Pinero had himself a good game last week despite still suffering from a knee injury. Hopefully, he’s healed up and ready for those long field goals, this week, because the Bears might need him badly.
This is an interesting coaching matchup. You have the ultra-experienced Jon Gruden, whose team is on the verge of something special but it’s not going to happen this year. For Chicago’s coach Matt Nagy, the special is already here and he just must keep moving forward to make good things happen. If anyone has the edge here, it’s Nagy because his team is so well put together and playing hard right now.
Give the Raiders another year and they will be better. But the time for the Bears is now.
Which players on the Bears and Raiders are injured? Let’s look.
The following Bears are listed on the injury report. Here is what they are on the injury report for and their status for Sunday’s game.
Kyle Long-OG-Hip-Will play
Trey Burton-TE-Groin-Will play
Roquan Smith-LB-Personal-Will play
Eddy Pinero-K-Knee-Will play
LaMarcus Joyner-S-Groin-Will play
Dwayne Harris-WR-Ankle Questionable
Josh Jacobs-RB-Elbow-Will play
DeAndre Washington-RB-Ankle-Will play
Who Will Win?
The Bears should be able to win this game. If the offense doesn’t let the defense get gassed by being on the field too much, you can bet this will be a Bears’ win. A win would help give them some momentum heading into the bye week as their schedule gets tougher and the wins become even more important. The Raiders are still building but don’t have a long way to go. But they don’t have enough to beat the Bears.