Bears

Bears-Broncos: And the winner is...

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Bears-Broncos: And the winner is...

The No. 1 tipping-point key to winning in the NFL is turnovers, an area in which the Bears have turned themselves around from recent years and which suddenly is a problem for the Denver Broncos.

Jay Cutler’s interceptions are at career-low (1.8 percent) and the Bears find themselves at a modest minus-1 in spite of a secondary with exactly one interception on the season. As surprising perhaps is that the Broncos are not only minus-2, but also that they have not had a takeaway in three games and have lost the last two of those.

[MORE BEARS: Momentum in Bears’ favor as they face up to Broncos’ No. 1 defense]

Not that the Bears can count on winning without takeaways, but they are 3-1 in games with a negative turnover margin vs. 0-2 in games with a positive margin (Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings). Consider that a paradox and one that will eventually unravel the Bears if turnovers continue tilting away from them.

The broader true issue for the Bears is that Denver’s defense is No. 1 at yardage allowed and No. 3 in points given up, while the Bears are a very respectable No. 8 in yards but No. 24 in scoring defense. The Broncos, however, will be without their best pass rusher — DeMarcus Ware out with back spasms — while the Bears may be without linebacker Pernell McPhee. The Bears won last week without McPhee; the Broncos lost to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 10 when Ware missed the second half.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans!]

The problem for the Bears' defense has been rushing yards allowed (26th, 119 ypg.). But the Broncos are among the NFL’s worst rushing teams (29th, 86 ypg.), and the Bears are coming off a game in which they held St. Louis Rams rookie rushing phenom Todd Gurley to 3.8 yards per carry vs. his average of 5.6 coming in.

With a first-time starting quarterback (Brock Osweiler) and an anemic ground game, the Broncos will have difficulty scoring unless the Bears help them with turnovers, which Cutler and the offense has cut back on. Both teams average nearly 22 points per game and both will be challenged hitting that mark on Sunday, for different reasons. The Bears come closer.

Prediction: Bears 20, Broncos 18

Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7

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USA TODAY

Trey Burton, Adrian Amos earn Bears’ top grades from Pro Football Focus for Week 7

The Bears were not at their best against the New England Patriots on Sunday. They made plenty of mistakes on all three phases and gave Tom Brady too many opportunities to control the game.

It wasn’t all bad from Chicago, though. Trey Burton emerged as a new favorite weapon of Mitchell Trubisky, and the tight end was the Bears’ highest-graded player in the game by Pro Football Focus.

Burton had a career high 11 targets, nine catches and 126 yards with a touchdown, giving Trubisky a 144.7 passer rating when targeting his top tight end.

Seven of Burton’s targets and six of his catches traveled 10 or more yards in the air, according to PFF.

Defensively, safety Adrian Amos led the pack with a 74.6 overall grade. He did not miss a tackle after missing a career-high five last week, and he allowed only one catch for eight yards against the Patriots.

On the bottom of the scale, outside linebacker Leonard Floyd received the second-lowest grade of his career (38.9 overall) for his performance. He did not record any pressure on the quarterback in 13 pass rushing snaps, and he allowed two catches for 13 yards and a touchdown in coverage against running back James White.

Wide receiver Allen Robinson had a career-low grade as well at 44.9 overall. He was clearly limited by his groin injury, targeted five times with one catch for four yards and a dropped pass.

Overall, the Bears were able to stick with one of the top teams in the AFC while also leaving a lot of room for improvement. It’s a step in the right direction from where Chicago was in recent seasons.

NFL Power Rankings Week 8: Jags, Eagles, Bears all see stock fall

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USA Today

NFL Power Rankings Week 8: Jags, Eagles, Bears all see stock fall

Take a look over the NFC landscape and try to find me a team that can compete with the Rams. 

Packers? Held back by Rodgers' knee and Rodgers' coach. Saints? Might not even win their own division. Washington? Does Alex Smith really scare anyone in the playoffs? 

The Rams have one of the easier paths to the Championship Round/Super Bowl that we've seen in some time. Will it likely stay that way? Probably not. But there's a difference between parity and mediocrity and right now the NFC is toeing the line HARD. 

Outside the NFC's "elite", how did your team do this week? 

You can take a look here and see where they landed.