Bears

After running through a gauntlet of tough defenses, can Mitchell Trubisky take advantage against Green Bay?

After running through a gauntlet of tough defenses, can Mitchell Trubisky take advantage against Green Bay?

Going by points allowed, Mitchell Trubisky faced defenses ranked third (Minnesota), fourth (Carolina), seventh (Baltimore) and ninth (New Orleans) in his first four NFL starts. 

If you’re into advanced stats, all those defenses rank in the top 10 of Football Outsiders’ DVOA: Baltimore is No. 2, Carolina is No. 5, New Orleans is No. 8 and Minnesota is No. 9. That’s quite a gauntlet for a rookie quarterback to try to get through. 

On Sunday, though, Trubisky will face a Green Bay Packers defense ranked 22nd in points allowed and 20th in defensive DVOA. He’ll have a new weapon at his disposal — wide receiver Dontrelle Inman is expected to make his Bears debut — and may get another one back, with Markus Wheaton saying on Wednesday he “absolutely” expects to play Sunday. 

The Bears believe they’re close to breaking through offensively, and facing a defense that's trending the wrong way may be the perfect opportunity for it. 

“I think we’re a team on the rise,” Wheaton said. 

When Trubisky took a bigger-picture evaluation of his first half, he noted that opposing defenses rarely followed their tendencies when he faced them. To wit: the Ravens ran a lot more Cover-2 against the Bears than they did in their previous games, while the Saints executed a couple of blitzes Trubisky hadn’t seen before on film. 

“Usually tendencies are a big thing you like to pick up on defenses,” Trubisky said. “But if they’re not showing us, we’ll have to adjust on the fly and take what the defense gives us.”

Trubisky expects Dom Capers’ Green Bay defense do to the same — “they look at their tendencies and try to mix it up,” he said —  but can it be as effective as what Minnesota, Baltimore, Carolina and New Orleans did?

The stats say probably not. And this game against Green Bay begins a run of seven consecutive games against defenses ranked outside the top 10 in both points allowed and DVOA: Detroit is 20th in points allowed and 11th in DVOA, Philadelphia is 12th and 10th, San Francisco is 31st and 25th, Cincinnati is 11th and 14th, Detroit (again) and Cleveland is 28th and 18th. 

Those numbers will change as November rolls into December, but for a Bears offense feeling optimistic about its second-half outlook, the opposing defenses it'll face could be conducive to better production.

First and Final Thoughts: Bears in good position to go 2-1

First and Final Thoughts: Bears in good position to go 2-1

Welcome into First and Final Thoughts, one of our weekly columns with a title that's a little too on the nose. Here we'll have Insider J.J Stankevitz, Producer Cam Ellis, and a rotating cast of NBC Sports Chicago's Bears team give some insight into what's on their minds between games.

Final Thought on Week 2

J.J. StankevitzWhat we saw Monday night is probably a blueprint for how the Bears can be successful in 2018: A developing quarterback makes some mistakes but leads a couple of scoring drives, which provides enough points to support an elite defense. The Bears' defense proved that, really, all it needed was to put forth four quarters of effort to solve the issues it seemed to create in that Week 1 loss to Green Bay. The offense is larger question, and it was at least a little concerning that Seattle's defense felt like it was best to sell out to stop the run -- the preferred strategy of defenses against the Bears' 2017 offense. The Bears needed more help from their offensive line and Jordan Howard, yes, but more than anything they needed -- and will need -- Mitch Trubisky to be better going forward to make sure teams can't drop safeties down and stack the box to stop the run. 

Cam Ellis: Of the three big offensive additions (Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, and Trey Burton) that the Bears made this year, Robinson's looked the best so far. He's clearly Trubisky's go-to guy; he only has one less target (21) than Gabriel and Burton combined (22). He hasn't found the end zone yet, but his current 66.7 Catch% would be the highest of his career by a significant margain. He was even Pro Football Focus' highest-rated Bears offensive player in Week 2. Frustratingly enough, he's only averaging 10.3 yards per reception, which wasn't exactly the idea when they brought him in. It's hard to blame him for tha, however, when the Bears rank 30th in the NFL in yards per pass attempt (4.9). 

First Thought on Week 3

J.J. Stankevitz: Goodness, Arizona is bad. In two games, they've managed only 19 first downs, 350 total yards of offense and four third down conversions in 20 attempts. Sam Bradford is averaging four yards per attempt. Meanwhile, the Cardinals' defense is allowing 6.1 yards per play, including an average of 8.8 yards per passing attempt. But here's maybe the most wild stat about the Cardinals: They haven't attempted a field goal -- not even a PAT -- in two games. Just about every team in the NFL matches up well against Arizona (well, maybe besides the Bills), so the Bears will head to the desert with an excellent opportunity to move to 2-1. But then again, last year, the Bears were 0-2 and coming off a horrible Week 2 loss...and then beat a playoff team in the Pittsburgh Steelers behind Mike Glennon (who's now Arizona's backup). Anything can happen in the NFL.

Cam Ellis: If the Bears want to compete for an NFC North title, they should be able to go out and win games like these, presumably comfortably. (Though Arizona getting 6 points at home seems a bit dramatic) The Cardinals are very not good, and like J.J. said, NFL games can be coin flips. The Bears went 2-6 away from Soldier Field last year, and that obviously won't cut it with this year's roster. The Bears' last quarter of the season features the Rams and Packers at home before road games at San Fransisco and Minnesota, so taking care of favorable matchups like this week (and Nov. 4's in Buffalo) are critical. 

Bears are nearly touchdown favorites over Cardinals for Week 3

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USA TODAY

Bears are nearly touchdown favorites over Cardinals for Week 3

After facing a pair of elite quarterbacks to start the season, the Bears get a little bit of an easier matchup with the Arizona Cardinals in Week 3.

Sam Bradford has struggled under center so far this season, and fans have been clamoring for rookie quarterback Josh Rosen to get the start. The team could possible turn to Mike Glennon too.

The 0-2 Cardinals are among the worst teams in the NFL thus far, and so Las Vegas sportsbooks see the Bears earning win No. 2 on Sunday.

Chicago favored by six points against Arizona, according to Vegas Insider, and that might even be selling them short.

The Cardinals have scored six points total in two games this season, with their one touchdown coming in Week 1 against Washington. They were shutout last week against the Los Angeles Rams.

Las Vegas is expecting a low-scoring game regardless, with the lowest over/under (38 points) set for any game this week.

If Bradford can right the ship, the Arizona can give the Bears a run for their money this week, but if not, a QB change could be in store for the Cardinals.