Bears

Khalil Mack says Dak Prescott will be huge challenge for Bears defense

Khalil Mack says Dak Prescott will be huge challenge for Bears defense

As the Bears prepare to welcome the Dallas Cowboys to Soldier Field for Week 14's Thursday night showdown, star edge rusher Khalil Mack knows his defense will face a tough challenge against quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott.

“The guy knows how to put his team in a position to win games," Mack said of Prescott on Tuesday. "He’s a hell of a ballplayer. He plays with a lot of heart, and you see it. You see it reflected in the film. It’s going to be a big challenge for us this week.”

Despite Dallas' 6-6 record, Prescott has been in the discussion as one of the top candidates for 2019 NFL MVP. He's completed nearly 67% of his passes for 3,788 yards, 23 touchdowns and 11 interceptions this year which is nearly 1,600 yards and 10 touchdowns more than Mitch Trubisky has thrown for.

Part of what makes Prescott so dangerous is the Cowboys' running game. Opposing defenses can't focus their attention solely on stopping wide receiver Amari Cooper and the rest of Dallas' weapons on the outside. If that's the strategy the Bears take, Elliott is likely to carve them up.

“He’s one of the most physical running backs in the league," Mack said of Elliott. "It’s going to be a huge task. He’s a guy who runs the ball like he’s angry. It’s going to be our job to make sure he feels us.”

Elliot's physical between-the-tackles running style has him sixth in the NFL in rushing yards (990) this season. And while he hasn't made many splash plays in 2019, he's still churning out 4.4 yards per carry.

Mack knows there's an even bigger challenge facing the Bears than just the Cowboys' offense this week. Chicago needs to win out to make the playoffs and with the Packers, Chiefs and Vikings remaining on their schedule in Weeks 15-17, it may take a small miracle for the Bears to play in January.

“We love this," Mack said of the pressure on his team. "If you play this game and you love this game, you can’t wait to do the impossible, in a sense. You can’t wait to go out and prove yourself.”

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Under Center Podcast: Chris Simms fixes the Bears

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USA Today

Under Center Podcast: Chris Simms fixes the Bears

Laurence Holmes is joined by NBC Sports NFL analyst Chris Simms live from radio row in Miami as they try to fix the Bears. They also discuss what the Bears can learn from the San Francisco 49ers and their head coach Kyle Shanahan.

(1:57) - How to fix the Bears/Trubisky

(6:54) - What would he tell Mitchell Trubisky

(9:24) - What people don't understand about Khalil Mack

(11:44) - Kyle Shanahan is a football genius

Listen here or in the embedded player below.

Under Center Podcast

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Bears' odds to sign Teddy Bridgewater just got better

Bears' odds to sign Teddy Bridgewater just got better

When Bears GM Ryan Pace selected quarterback Mitch Trubisky with the second overall pick of the 2017 NFL Draft, he referred to future Hall-of-Famer, Drew Brees, as the kind of passer he envisioned the former North Carolina product becoming. After three underwhelming seasons under center in Chicago, Trubisky's fallen way short of those expectations. It's unclear whether he can even become an average starter at this point.

The 2020 offseason is expected to bring competition for Trubisky and it's most likely to come via free agency. Pace will have an opportunity to tap into the Brees-led Saints quarterback room to find that competition, as all three passers (Brees, Taysom Hill and Teddy Bridgewater) are scheduled to hit the open market.

The reality, however, is that only one of the three will likely be available. According to Fox Sports' Jay Glazer, it'll be Bridgewater.

RELATED: Top 30 free agents of the 2020 NFL offseason

Brees will call his own shot; if he wants to return to New Orleans, he will. And while Bridgewater played well enough to warrant a starting opportunity in 2020, he'd also serve as the perfect starter-in-waiting for the Saints. But that player is Hill, who Glazer said New Orleans views as a legitimate franchise quarterback.

This is actually great news for the Bears. Of the three Saints quarterbacks, Bridgewater would make the most sense as a target for Chicago. He'll turn 27 next season and still has several years of high-level play remaining in his arm. In the 2019 regular season, Bridgewater started five games (he went 5-0), completed nearly 68% of his passes, and threw for 1,384 yards, nine touchdowns and just two interceptions. 

Is Bridgewater an elite player? No. Is he a franchise-changing quarterback? No; but that's not what the Bears are looking for. Instead, Pace needs to sign a veteran who is consistent and reliable enough to support an elite defense with enough points to win. Trubisky's failed mightily at that, and Bridgewater proved in relief of Brees in 2019 that he's not only capable of it, but he can thrive in that role.

Bridgewater's projected market value is a three-year, $60.1 million deal (or $20 million per season) per Spotrac. It may seem like a lot of money to pay to a quarterback whose signing wouldn't come along with a guaranteed starting job, but when combined with Trubisky's $9.3 million salary in 2020, as long as the Bears receive quality play from whoever their starting quarterback is, the cost will be in line with those teams that have respected starters on their payroll.

It's possible Bridgewater won't sign with a team that doesn't promise him the starting job. But is a promise even needed with Trubisky being the only roadblock in Bridgewater's way? It wouldn't take long for him to distance himself at the top of the depth chart, and maybe, once and for all, the Bears can enjoy some Saints-like quarterback play. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.