The Texans may be currently ranked at No. 8 in the NFL in rushing, averaging 138 yards per game, but it's important to remember that three of the teams ranked ahead of Houston -- or even the Bears who currently sit at No. 11 -- have played nine games instead of eight. Teams like Washington, Seattle and Minnesota will move down the list, simply for the number of games played once the Bears face off against the Texans tonight.
One of the biggest keys to victory for the Bears is to shut down running back Arian Foster and the Texans' zone blocking scheme, which is where offensive lineman fire-off the line of scrimmage in blocking an area.
The zone blocking scheme is well choreographed where all movements called in a certain direction are the same. The offense wants their opponent's defensive line and linebackers working horizontally, which disrupts defensive gap responsibilities allowing for two-way reads for the running back to stay front-side or utilize cut back lanes due to gap vulnerability.
How to defeat zone blocking schemes
Penetration by the Bears' defensive line working north and south -- not east and west -- will be the key. As I mentioned, the Texans want to work the front defensive seven laterally, which horizontally stretches the defense leading to breakdowns and big holes to run through. The Bears must combat this with defensive line penetration into the backfield. Defensive tackles Henry Melton and Stephen Paea cannot be on roller skates working sideways, they must get up field destroying any two-way read by Foster. By penetrating up field, the Bears will dictate where Fosters only day light will be, which will be waiting with defenders ready to make the tackle.
If the Bears stop the run game, they will essentially stop the Houston Texan deadly play action game as well. A powerful base offense will have been effectively neutralized and brought to a crawl by simply accomplishing one key element: penetration.