Bears

Bears return to Soldier Field as home underdogs against the Patriots

Bears return to Soldier Field as home underdogs against the Patriots

The Bears were getting used to life in the big chair. Chicago was favored in each of their last four games, but it all came crashing down at the hands of Brock Osweiler in overtime last week.

The Miami Dolphins pulled off the upset, and now the Bears return home to take on one of the best teams in the league.

Even if they had won in Miami, Chicago likely still would have been underdogs to the New England Patriots on Sunday, but as it stands, Bill Belichick and company are favored by three on most major sportsbooks, according to Vegas Insider.

The line initially opened at Patriots by 2.5, but it would seem that money placed on New England pushed the spread a little more in the Bears’ favor.

Vegas is expecting another higher-scoring game for both teams, with the over/under sitting at 49. Given that the Patriots have scored at least 38 points in each of their last three games, the Bears’ defense may have some trouble keeping this game low on the scoreboard.

In Week 6, home underdogs went 4-1 against the spread and 3-2 straight up. According to Bet America, home underdogs have covered in 20 of their 30 games this season, which bodes well for a Bears team facing a tough task at Soldier Field.

Bears neutralize Aaron Donald as Jordan Howard has his best game of 2018

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USA Today

Bears neutralize Aaron Donald as Jordan Howard has his best game of 2018

The Bears’ defense holding the Rams’ offense to six points was remarkable on Sunday night. But perhaps just as remarkable: Jordan Howard having his first 100-yard game of 2018 in the face of Aaron Donald, the best defensive player in the NFL. 

Howard ran for 101 yards on 19 carries, proving to be a critical component of a 15-6 win that all but assured the Bears of a playoff spot. Not only was Howard effective and efficient, his success on the ground — along with that of Tarik Cohen (nine carries, 69 yards) — led the Bears to Bears have the ball for about 13 1/2 more minutes than the Rams. Meaning: The league’s best offense was only on the field for a little over 23 ineffective minutes on Sunday night. 

“I just had to stay patient, I knew my time was going to come,” Howard said. “I didn’t know when but I just knew I had to be ready.”

Upping the impressiveness of Howard’s game was it happened on a field shared by Donald, who was being talked up as a legitimate candidate for league MVP despite not being a quarterback. Donald was largely invisible, recording only two tackles and one quarterback hit as the Bears blocked and schemed him out of having a major impact. 

For an offensive line that didn’t have much success run blocking against lesser competition, what Harry Hiestand’s unit did Sunday night to set up Howard’s day was nothing short of impressive. 

“If you study his film and know how he’s going to play, and know how he can hurt plays, so if we run the ball just make sure he doesn’t do this because that hurts the play,” left guard James Daniels said. “So that’s just something we focused on all week.”

Those game-wrecking plays were absent from Donald all night. Howard didn’t have a single rushing attempt that went for negative yardage, this a week after five of his 16 runs against the New York Giants went for a loss. 

“We just trusted our technique and the coaches put us in a good spot, and we had a good plan in store,” center Cody Whitehair said. “But credit to our guards and the guys that blocked him. They did a nice job and handled him very well.”

Donald barely pressured Mitch Trubisky, too, the product of strong blocking from the entire line, Daniels, Whitehair, Charles Leno, Bobby Massie and Bryan Witzmann. The Bears’ strategy was to not let Donald beat them, and while the offense was hardly at its best on Sunday night, it accomplished that goal. 

“He didn't have any game-destructive plays that he usually causes,” Trubisky said. “That's something that we definitely kept in the back of our minds. If we just play smart, take care of the football, create positive plays on offense, get a few more scores, then we can come out and get a W, which we did.
 
“… We definitely want to score more, but we did what we had to do, didn't give up any game-changing plays to Donald and the defense did the rest.”

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears and stream the ‘Football Aftershow’ easily on your device.

Under Center Podcast: The Bears knock off the kings of the NFC.

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USA TODAY

Under Center Podcast: The Bears knock off the kings of the NFC.

Where do the Bears now stand in the conference, and are they serious Super Bowl contenders? The defense carried the team while Mitch struggled to find his rhythm.

Lance Briggs, Alex Brown and Matt Forte join Laurence Holmes on the podcast to figure out what’s next for this tricked out team with nine wins.

00:00 - The defense studies their opponent, and comes up big

02:00 - Bears defense smothers, and made Goff look like a rookie

03:30 - What went wrong with the Rams

05:30 - Defense is winning games for us

06:15 - Bears are Super Bowl contenders

07:30 - Who do the Bears matchup well against?

08:30 - How big was this game?

10:30 - What was wrong with the Bears?

11:30 - The Bears creative run game

12:30 - Mitch had a bad day

13:30 - Bears defense picks up Mitch

14:30 - What happened to Mitch?

16:00 - Worried about Mitch?

17:00 - Rams defense pressured Mitch

18:00 - Bears defense punished Goff

19:00 - Who scares the Bears?

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears and stream the ‘Football Aftershow’ easily on your device.