Bears

Week 3 NFL picks: Over 90 percent of experts pick Bears to defeat Cardinals

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USA TODAY

Week 3 NFL picks: Over 90 percent of experts pick Bears to defeat Cardinals

The Bears aren’t going to take the Arizona Cardinals lightly on Sunday, but Chicago isn’t expected to have too much trouble with their Week 3 opponent.

The Cardinals have scored six points through two games, shutout last week against the Los Angeles Rams. Quarterback Sam Bradford has struggled and his offensive line has been a big reason for it, making another favorable matchup for Khalil Mack to continue his strong start.

Few experts expect the Cardinals to pull off the upset, with over 90 percent of NFL prognosticators picking the Bears to win, according to NFL Pick Watch.

Analysts from CBS and MMQB as well as the analytics from FiveThirtyEight are picking against Chicago this week, while every Pro Football Focus analyst picked the Bears across the board.

The Cardinals are nearly touchdown underdogs by Las Vegas betting lines, and sportsbooks see the game as one of the lowest-scoring matchups of the weekend.

Arizona hasn’t had much offensive success this season, but with talent like David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald, an upset is only ever a few plays away. The Cardinals defense has done well in spite of the team’s struggles, and this game won’t be a walk in the park for the Bears on the road.

Bears prove defense still matters with masterful shutdown of Rams

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USA TODAY

Bears prove defense still matters with masterful shutdown of Rams

A day after that 54-51 Rams-Chiefs barnburner on Monday Night Football last month, Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was asked if he thought that game was a watershed moment for the pass-happy, offense-oriented NFL.

“I think it’s just we live in such a won-week news cycle in the NFL,” Fangio said, dismissing the thought. “Let’s see what happens next week.”

It wasn’t next week, but three weeks later, Fangio’s group proved great defense can still beat great offense in today’s modern NFL.

The Bears’ defense suffocated Jared Goff, neutralized Todd Gurley, owned the line of scrimmage and powered a 15-6 win over the 11-2 Rams at Soldier Field Sunday night. Goff was picked off four times — by Roquan Smith, Eddie Jackson, Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara — and finished with a passer rating of 19.1, the worst of his career (which includes his horrendous rookie season). Gurley was a non-factor, rushing 11 times for 28 yards while catching only three passes for 30 yards.

An offense that had only scored fewer than 30 points in two games this year was held to two measly field goals and was thoroughly discombobulated by the Bears’ defense all night. Sunday was the first time the Rams' offense failed to score a touchdown in the Sean McVay era.

The standout performances came from every unit. Eddie Goldman’s safety was a major momentum shift at the start of the second half, staking the Bears a two-point lead and giving them the ball back for a drive that led to the only touchdown of the game. Akiem Hicks was a menace, as usual, while Roy Robertson-Harris and Jonathan Bullard both had productive games.

Khalil Mack forced a fumble and combined with Leonard Floyd to make Goff miserable in pockets that consistently collapsed around him. Smith had that interception and was all over the field, while Danny Trevathan was key in limiting Gurley’s production.

And Fuller, Amukamara, Jackson, Adrian Amos and Sherrick McManis — who played the second half with Bryce Callahan injured — made sure the Rams weren’t able to get a spark.

This night was all about the league’s best defense dominating the league’s best offense in front of a national audience in primetime. And it served a warning for the high-octane offenses of the NFC: The Bears are a force to be reckoned with when they play in the playoffs in January.

Because, yes, the Bears are going to the playoffs. They don’t have anything clinched yet, but with nine wins and a lagging pack of wild card contenders (behind the Seahawks and Vikings), there’s not a realistic scenario in which this team doesn’t end its eight-year playoff drought. Also: If the Seahawks beat the Vikings on Monday night, the Bears will be a win or a Vikings loss away from clinching the NFC North.

But this Bears team, on Sunday night, played like a group that isn’t going to settle for just reaching the postseason. This is a group that should have designs on making a legitimate run in January on the back of a side of the ball that’s been frequently left for dead in NFL circles this year.

Maybe, just maybe, defense still matters. And if it matters in the playoffs? The Bears have a shot and doing more than just making it to January.

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WATCH: Bradley Sowell scores 2nd Big Guy Touchdown in 2 Weeks

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NFL on NBC

WATCH: Bradley Sowell scores 2nd Big Guy Touchdown in 2 Weeks

The Bears' red zone offense never ceases to amaze. 

This week? Backup lineman Bradley Sowell gets his number called: 

The misdirection? Genius. The execution? Terrific. The celebration? Sublime. 

Big guy touchdowns!