Bears

Bears defense faces tough task against Ravens QB Lamar Jackson in Hall of Fame Game

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USA Today

Bears defense faces tough task against Ravens QB Lamar Jackson in Hall of Fame Game

The Chicago Bears first preseason game kicks off Thursday night against the Baltimore Ravens in the 2018 Hall of Fame Game and will give the NFL its first look at Lamar Jackson, the dynamic dual-threat quarterback chosen in the first round of April's NFL draft.

Jackson should see a fair share of reps in the preseason opener. Robert Griffin III will get the start (assuming Joe Flacco sits this one out) and will probably play deep into the first quarter, if not more. But the real fun begins once Jackson takes the field. He'll challenge Bears defenders, especially the edge defenders and second-level linebackers, with his escapability and dynamic speed.

Here are four Bears worth watching when Chicago is on defense:

Bilal Nichols

Nichols will see his first NFL action after coming to Chicago as a fifth-round pick from the FCS ranks. Not only will he be challenged by bigger and stronger linemen, but he'll square off against one of the scariest athletes playing quarterback to enter the NFL since Mike Vick. If he's able to create some pressure or wrangle Jackson to the ground, he'll build a lot of momentum for an even bigger role as a rookie.

Roy Robertson-Harris

Robertson-Harris is in a training camp battle with Jonathan Bullard for a starting job alongside Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman. He's overflowing with potential and has a freakish combination of size and movement skills. If he can run down Jackson and flash some of that ability during the Hall of Fame Game, his stock will be on the rise.

Isaiah Irving

Irving is fighting for a roster spot this season and is something of a fan-favorite to actually challenge for starter's reps at outside linebacker. With Aaron Lynch continuing to miss time and Sam Acho already a known commodity, Irving has a wide open opportunity to carve out a pass-rushing role in the preseason. 

Nick Kwiatkoski

Will the Bears play Kwiatkoski, currently a starter, in the Hall of Fame Game with Roquan Smith's contract status still a great unknown? They should. Kwiatkoski is a very talented player and one who likely has a long-term future in Chicago, but once Smith returns from his holdout, the third-year pro will revert to backup reps. The Bears should continue to build as much tape as they can on Kwiatkoski to help evaluate his role and status for the future. Plus, if he shines? Maybe it forces Smith's hand a little.

Bears move ahead of Saints in latest Super Bowl odds

Bears move ahead of Saints in latest Super Bowl odds

Bears fans and NFL analysts may have cooled on Chicago's chances of winning Super Bowl 54, but after two weeks of uninspiring offense and a 1-1 record, their Super Bowl odds have actually improved.

The Bears entered Week 2 with 20:1 odds of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in February. After Eddy Pineiro's game-winner against the Broncos Sunday, Chicago's odds are now 16:1.

Granted, injuries around the NFL have played a part -- a big part -- in the Bears' jump. Most notably, the Saints' loss of Drew Brees for at least six weeks following surgery to repair a torn ligament in his throwing thumb dropped New Orleans from 8:1 down to 20:1.

Other teams who began Week 2 with better Super Bowl odds than the Bears only to sink below them at its conclusion are the Chargers (20:1) and Vikings (20:1).

As for the rest of the NFC North? The Packers' odds improved from 16:1 to 12:1, while the Lions jumped from 100:1 to 66:1.

Kicker Eddy Piñeiro named NFC special teams player of the week after Denver win

Kicker Eddy Piñeiro named NFC special teams player of the week after Denver win

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Bears' kicker Eddy Piñeiro was named NFC special teams player of the week today. 

This probably had something to do with it: 

Piñeiro's Sunday in Denver also included makes from 40 and 52. He's now 4-4 on FG attempts on the year, and is the only kicker in the NFL who has a 100% completion rate from 50+ yards (2/2). 

Per a Bears press released, Sunday was marked the first time a Bears kicker made two 50+ yard field goals in the same game since Week 12 of the 2011 season at the Raiders.