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This Week 13 matchup has all the makings for a trap game, an Arizona Cardinals team with the best record in the NFL facing a desperate Bears team at home, but Cards QB Kyler Murray and his offense will have to game plan around one of the better defenses in the league and win a game they are supposed to earn because they are the better team on both sides of the ball.
The 4-7 Chicago Bears look broken at times and are almost out of the playoff picture at five games behind the Green Bay Packers in the NFC North, and things get even tougher this week as they defend their home turf against arguably the best team in the league, and with head coach Matt Nagy still trying to keep his job he must figure out who to start under center.
These two NFC rivals have faced each other 91 times, with the Chicago Bears winning 57 of those games and the Arizona Cardinals winning 28 of the games, plus there have been six ties.
Operating an NFL offense in front of the opponent’s home crowd is always difficult, but at certain stadiums like Soldier Field in Chicago, it’s made even worse due to the old-fashioned layout of the arena designed to carry the crowd’s noise directly onto the field.
Kyler Murray’s offense is a top-10 unit that is effective on the ground and through the air, but in order to execute their game plan they have to be able to communicate with each other, and that’s where the Chicago fans in attendance make that impossible with their unbearable noise.
It will be up to Murray and HC / OC Kliff Kingsbury to take that into account and prepare their offensive attack with that extra crowd noise in mind, otherwise, signals get crossed and pre-snap penalties occur, and those negative yards are what kill a favored team every time.
With the Bears up in the air in terms of starting quarterback these days (below), they must depend on their 10th ranked defense to keep the Cardinals off the field by shutting them down on third downs with tight coverages and the threat of a sack on every play.
Chicago is tied with the second most team sacks this season (32) but they’re ranked 28th for interceptions (5) so their secondary is going to have to step up against Murray’s deep threats and find a takeaway or tackle him for a loss, otherwise his offense can do great damage.
Bears’ opponents gain a total of 334 yards of offense every game and they are allowed to score just over 23 points each time, but this Cardinals offense is used to scoring an average of 28 points every outing so Chicago’s defense can help these underdog Bears steal a win.
This is Cardinals tight end Zach Ertz’s ninth NFL season, and the first eight and a half were spent in Philadelphia with the Eagles where the soft-handed semi-giant earned a Gronk-like reputation as a blocker and a receiver who can get open as well as yards after the catch.
Ertz is a 6’ 5” 250 pound Stanford graduate who is now 31 years old, but despite his ‘advanced’ football age he is still productive, this year with 40 total catches for 458 yards and 5 touchdowns despite switching teams in the middle of the season.
A former Super Bowl Champion and 3x Pro Bowler, Ertz has over 600 career receptions and 41 total touchdowns, a sure-handed target for QB Murray to lean on plus a solid blocker to help the Cardinals 10th ranked rushing attack become even more effective.
Chicago Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields has started under center in eight games this season and he has helped his team earn a 2-6 record during that stretch, but an injury to his ribs has him listed questionable for this weekend so he is a game-time decision by HC Nagy.
Another option for the starting role is veteran backup Andy Dalton who was brought to Chicago in order to be the starter while Fields got up to speed, but due to an early injury Field was inserted into the lineup sooner than expected and ever since it’s been a question for the team.
This week this QB variable could serve as a solid part of their game plan, as it forces the Cardinals to consider both quarterbacks as possible starters, but Fields is the future in Chicago despite his rookie numbers being less than desirable (4 TDs, 8 INTs, 10 gms).
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|Cardinals vs Bears Information
|Arizona Cardinals vs Chicago Bears
|Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois
|Sunday, December 5, 2021; 1:00 PM ET
|How to watch
Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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