Bears

2015 Grades: Injuries plague Bears receivers all season long

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2015 Grades: Injuries plague Bears receivers all season long

Evaluating the Bears’ receiver group becomes nearly impossible – hence the “incomplete” – with the constant stream of injuries, beginning with Kevin White’s stress fracture in the offseason and continuing with Alshon Jeffery missing games with myriad injuries before going on IR, and Eddie Royal breaking down and missing seven entire games. Even No. 4 receiver Marquess Wilson was on IR with a season-ending foot injury suffered in the San Francisco game.

Emblematic of the problems at receiver: Jeffery led the Bears with 54 receptions, followed by Martellus Bennett with 53. Bennett preceded Jeffery onto IR and was a significant loss, mitigated by the emergence of Zach Miller at tight end, but even Miller was down with injury for game 16. Tight end becomes a question area given the uncertain status of Bennett and his attitude.

[MORE BEARS GRADES: Running backs ¦ Secondary]

“I think when you look at the guys who have gone down, they were the guys that were getting so many of the reps,” said offensive coordinator Adam Gase. “And then you take them off the field and now you’re putting in guys that are almost starting over a little bit.

“And we try to keep guys caught up but when you start going plays off of plays and then all of the sudden you get a new guy in there and he’s like, ‘well, I’ve never done that before,’ you almost have to start from the beginning every once in a while and get these guys caught up and then get them on the same page with the quarterback because he hasn’t had reps with them. So it does hurt you a little bit as far as how advanced you can get.”

As coach John Fox said of the overall, the Detroit game was “a microcosm of our season.” The wide receivers provided precisely that kind of game. Josh Bellamy failed to catch a key third-down pass on a back-shoulder throw in the quarter, letting the ball go right through his hands in another missed opportunity for Bellamy with the front-line receivers down. But he fought through tight coverage from Detroit rookie cornerback Quandre Diggs to haul in a 34-yard touchdown pass from Jay Cutler in the third quarter.

Cameron Meredith showed his inexperience on the Bears’ first possession when he was unable to at least break up a slightly underthrown pass in the end zone, resulting in an interception off the deflection.

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

If there was a positive to emerge from the chaos at wide receiver it was the play of Marc Mariani, who finished with a modest 22 receptions, including a team-leading 6 for 80 yards in the Detroit game. Mariani projects to have an expanded role as a nickel/slot receiver with Royal, in part because the quarterback trusts him.

“He’s always been that guy,” Jay Cutler said. "He’s always the guy who is going to work extremely hard. He’s going to be where he’s supposed to be. I think now he’s just getting more attempts because our numbers have dwindled so out of necessity he’s been out there a lot more and he’s become a viable option for us.”

Moon's WR Grade: Incomplete

Bears vs. Vikings, Week 11: How to watch, listen and stream

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USA TODAY

Bears vs. Vikings, Week 11: How to watch, listen and stream

First place in the NFC North is at stake tonight as the Bears host a Minnesota Vikings team coming off of their bye week. Chicago is looking to establish itself as a legitimate contender with a key divisional win.

Here’s how you can tune in to the game.

Game Information

Minnesota Vikings (5-3-1) at Chicago Bears (6-3)

7:20 p.m. CT, Sunday, Nov. 18

Soldier Field, Chicago

Television

Sunday Night Football on NBC

Announcers: Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth

Stream

Stream on NBC Sports

Football Aftershow on NBC Sports Chicago

Radio

WBBM 780 (Chicago)

Satellite Radio

National broadcast: XM 88
Bears feed: XM 225
Vikings feed: XM 226

Coverage on NBC Sports Chicago

“The Warm Up” — 15 minutes prior to every Bears game this season, host Laurence Holmes, along with analysts Lance Briggs, Alex Brown, Matt Forte, will hold a special Facebook Live segment on NBC Sports Chicago’s official Facebook page — offering a game day preview featuring their expert commentary and predictions. 

Plus - Bears fans will have also an opportunity to have their questions answered by submitting their game day inquiries via the “comments” section on the live stream.

“3rd Quarter Sidecast” — At the start of the third quarter of every Bears game this season, fans will also be able to interact with the Football Aftershow crew via Facebook Live (Facebook.com/NBCSChicago) as they watch and react to the first few series of the second half.

In addition, the “3rd Quarter Sidecast” will also feature more fan interaction as fans can post their thoughts and ask their questions to Briggs, Brown, and Forte.

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.

Bears and Vikings have history of exciting matchups

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USA TODAY

Bears and Vikings have history of exciting matchups

The national spotlight will be on the Bears tonight as they host the Minnesota Vikings on NBC, and the primetime audience should be in for tightly contested matchup.

These two teams have a history of those.

Last year, Mitchell Trubisky made his first-career start in a similar situation under the lights at Soldier Field, but his late interception set the Vikings up with the game-winning field goal with 12 seconds left for a 20-17 victory.

The year before, Jay Cutler led the 1-6 Bears to a major upset over the 5-1 Vikings, also in primetime. It was Cutler’s first game back from injury, and he threw for 252 yards and a touchdown while Jordan Howard added 153 on the ground to win 20-10.

Back in December of 2013, Josh McCown threw for over 350 yards to lead Marc Trestman’s Bears to overtime against Matt Cassell and Minnesota. But Adrian Peterson’s 211 rushing yards proved to be too much as Blair Walsh hit the winning field goal in the extra period.

Chicago has had its share of game-winners against the Vikings too, like wide receiver Devin Aromashodu’s 39-yard touchdown pass from Jay Cutler back in 2009, one of his seven catches for 150 yards in the 36-30 overtime victory over Brett Favre.

The division rivals have met in the playoffs once in their 114 matchups, a 35-18 win for our own Dave Wannstedt. Steve Walsh connected with Jeff Graham for four catches and 108 yards to knock off Warren Moon and Cris Carter in the wildcard round.

This season’s Week 11 matchup could have its own playoff implications as the winner will sit in first place in the NFC North and take a potential head-to-head tiebreaker.

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.