The Chicago Bears are looking to pull out an upset in Baltimore on a short week in what will be Mitchell Trubisky’s second start in his young career.
In this episode, Will DeWitt goes through his weekly five matchups and three keys that you must pay attention to in this week’s game.
First up, let’s analyze the five critical matchups.
1. Jordan Howard vs C.J. Mosley
On the year, the Ravens have struggled with containing opponents on the ground. As a team, they allow 123 yards per game and 4.3 yards per carry. Mosley leads Baltimore in total tackles (44). That’s nearly double the next defensemen (Tony Jefferson – 26). However, out of his 44 tackles, only three have been in the backfield.
For Chicago, expect Jordan Howard to continue to get the bulk of the workload. Last week, the running back had 19 carries for 76 yards. His production should rise this week going up against the Ravens’ defense that is vulnerable to giving up the big gain. Throughout four games, Baltimore has given up four rushes that have gone for 20-plus yards (8th-most in NFL).
When the Bears have run well this year, it’s primarily been to the left sideline where they average 6.7 yards per carry on 35 attempts. That’s opposite to where Mosely typically lines up, so he’ll be asked to cover a lot of ground in this game.
This battle also carries over to the passing game as it’ll be Mosely who is responsible for the backs coming out of the backfield. Howard has 10 catches through five games and has 57 yards after the catch.
2. Mitchell Trubisky vs Baltimore’s Streak
I know what you’re probably thinking … what the heck are you thinking here, Will? And in brief, I am just thinking outside of the box and am trying to give something different this week.
Due to a plethora of conflicting reports, I am unsure of the exact numbers, but under John Harbaugh, the Ravens are undefeated at home against rookie quarterbacks. It can be anywhere from 9-0 to 11-0 as I’ve seen everything in between. Nevertheless, it’s a daunting task ahead for Trubisky in his second career start.
In fact, the Ravens have only lost one game to a rookie quarterback and that was Jake Plummer all the way back in 1997. There’s something to this streak. Whether it be the Ravens’ defensive pedigree over the years, the crowd noise and atmosphere, or something else.
We heard from the guys at “The CAW” that this is something the Ravens take pride in, and until the streak is broken, rookie quarterbacks will continue to struggle. With Trubisky’s limited supporting cast, can he break the streak? We’ll find out on Sunday, but I believe the odds are heavily stacked against him.
Edge: The Streak
3. Kendall Wright vs Ladarius Webb
Last week, the Raiders picked on the Ravens’ nickel corner in Webb. That’s due to Baltimore’s impressive set of outside corners in Brandon Carr, Jimmy Smith and even rookie Marlon Humphrey.
So, with the Bears’ being handcuffed without any true outside targets in the passing attack, expect the Bears to follow suit and take their chances against Webb in the slot.
Wright leads all Bears receivers with 18 catches, 200 yards and 12 first downs. In Trubisky’s first start he caught 80 percent (4 of 5) of his targets and gained 46 yards.
Wright has the best catch rate (91.7) out of all slot receivers in the NFL
Edge: Kendall Wright but has only been targeted 12 times there, which is 21st in the NFL.
Last week, Wright disappeared after some early catches and the Bears will be wise to give him more looks deeper in the game.
This is an intriguing matchup, but Webb is only allowing a 60.2 passer rating when targeted, and that’s not promising.
4. Danny Trevathan vs Alex Collins and Javorius Allen
Luckily, Trevathan’s suspension was only a single game. The Bears missed him dearly last week in a variety of ways. Chicago was not only carved up on the ground but once Christian Jones took over play calls, the defense struggled to get on the same page and miscommunication led to some big plays like the 58-yard run from Jerick McKinnon, for example.
Both Collins and Allen have put together solid seasons. Collins is the hard-nosed runner who fearless and hits the hole running. He’s averaging a whopping average of 7.1 yards per rush on 37 carries including three rushes that have gone for 20-plus yards. On the other hand, Allen is more of the finesse back and is averaging 3.5 yards per carry on 66 rushes. Combined these two backs average over 110 yards per game.
Trevathan is going to have a lot asked out of him to slow down these two different styles of runners. The good news is that Collins, the bruiser, has been the Ravens’ most productive rusher and Trevathan is a violent linebacker who is up for the challenge.
This week the Bears will find out exactly how important Trevathan is to this defense as I expect a light and day type of improvement with containing the run compared to Monday night.
Edge: Danny Trevathan
5.Akiem Hicks vs Jermaine Eluemunor
Here’s my weekly matchup to watch in the trenches.
Usually, this is where I highlight a “dogfight,” but today I want to do something different. Instead, here is a matchup that the Bears must exploit in order to win the game.
There’s no doubt about it, Hicks is the best player on this Bears’ defense. He leads the team with four sacks and 28 yards lost and led the team in quarterback hits last week with three. He can add to those totals this week as the Bears catch a break with the Ravens’ starting right guard Matt Skura is out.
Hicks will be lined up across Eluemunor who will be making his first career start. He was a late bloomer in college and is in many ways still learning the game and lacks true instincts and technique. That extra second of hesitation may be all Hicks needs to make a move and get by him.
This is a matchup Hicks should (and must) win.
Edge: Akiem Hicks