The Chicago Bears (1-1) will head to University of Phoenix Stadium to take on the Arizona Cardinals (0-2) in Week 3 (September 23, 2018 at 4:25pm EST). With the teams trending in drastically different directions, the Bears opened as 6.0-point road favorites.
Chicago’s offense is grounded on pounding the football. They score 23.5 points per game (16th), largely due to their 14th-ranked rushing attack. Led by Jordan Howard, the Bears total 112.5 yards per game on the ground. They were held to just 86 yards and 3.2 YPC in Week 2 against Seattle, but the stat-line doesn’t tell the whole story. After Chicago grabbed an early lead, Seattle knew the Bears would want to run the ball and stacked the box in response.
The Bears have needed to lean on Howard and the rest of the Chicago backfield this season, as QB Mitchell Trubisky has not performed well outside of early scripted drives. The pivot has only managed 371 passing yards (31st) and 3 touchdowns (41st) with 2 interceptions, resulting in an 80.0 passer rating.
Getting Howard going early will be essential in Week 3 in order to take pressure off the still-developing second-year QB.
Chicago’s defense has been great at stopping the run so far. They only spot their opponent 71.5 rushing yards per game (4th), compared to 251.5 through the air (18th). That said, they have faced two of the most lethal QBs in the league (Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson) in their first two games and done an admirable job in containing those lethal pivots, outside of about 15 minutes in the Packer game.
The Bears’ stinginess against the run and ferocious pass rush (6 sacks, T8th) has resulted in them allowing just 20.5 PPG (11th).
Chicago’s defense should feast this week when they line up across from the Cardinals. Arizona has only scored six points, combined, in two games, by far the fewest in the league. When you’re averaging 8.5 PPG less than Buffalo, that’s when you know you have problems.
Sam Bradford and company rank 32nd in passing, only tossing for 114.0 yards per game, and 31st in rushing, managing a paltry 61.0 yards per game on the ground.
Bradford needs to start performing at a higher level. He only has 243 passing yards with 0 TDs and 2 INTs. Bradford would love a little help from David Johnson (85 rushing yards this year) and the Cardinals’ rushing attack, but that’s not likely to happen behind one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines.
Expected to be a strength, the Cardinals defense isn’t providing much help. They’re allowing 29.0 points per game, which is 26th in the league, and offered little resistance against the run or the pass. Arizona gives up 294.5 yards per game through the air (27th) and 136.0 on the ground (28th). It appears the biggest threat to Mitchell Trubisky’s numbers this week is Jordan Howard having too big of a game, and vice versa.
The last time these two teams played was August 19th, 2017, when Chicago surprised the Cardinals 24-23. The Cardinals were 1.0-point favorites in that game.