OK, so these Bears actually hung in there, in a game you expected to look a lot like the 2014 Bears-Packers blowouts. The light at the end of this year's tunnel suddenly seems a bit brighter with the possibilities of coaches finding ways to put their team in position to win. That should've been a given. This isn't the first rodeo for John Fox, Vic Fangio and so many others on this coaching staff. Unfortunately, I felt more confident about winning this game after last Sunday's game than I do now, after learning and watching more of how these Cardinals have a .667 win percentage since they — not the Bears - hired Bruce Arians. But here's our weekly trio of ways to potentially avoid just the second 0-2 start (via two home losses) in franchise history:
The Carson Show
It was a hit last week at home as Carson Palmer returned from the second torn left ACL of his career. He was surprisingly active and accurate rolling out, not getting sacked once. Part of that may have been by design, since his offensive line is without starters Mike Iupati (knee) and Bobbie Massie (suspension). Here's where we find out whether there are genuine concerns about the Bears' pass rush out of their "base" 3-4. Can they find ways to get to a quarterback much less "slippery" than Aaron Rodgers last week, versus a patched-up line. But the man's found a way to win seven straight and 14 of 16 starts. Pressure up front means less pressure for a defensive backfield playing an eight-time Pro Bowler in Larry Fitzgerald and downfield speed in John Brown and Michael Floyd.
[RELATED: Complete Bears-Cardinals coverage on CSN]
Johnson & Johnson ... & Forte
With Andre Ellington down (knee), can the Bears defense contain rookie David Johnson and fading veteran Chris Johnson, forcing Palmer to become more one-dimensional? Throw in Kerwynn Williams, who was activated from the practice squad Saturday and owns one of just two 100-yard Cardinal rushing efforts over the past two years. Props to Arizona for limiting the Saints to 2.7 yards a rush. But they don't have Matt Forte. Can the Bears' offensive line dictate the ground game, as they did last week, versus a much more stout defense? If they can manage to break the 100-yard barrier and provide balance, consider it a huge step, because....
[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Bears fans!]
Forget Cardinals — they're ballhawks
If Richard Sherman (whom the Bears see next week) isn't the best cornerback in the NFL, Patrick Peterson joins Darrelle Revis in the argument for No. 2. Don't be surprised if Arizona stacks the box to lock up Forte (with safety Deone Bucannon) and force Jay Cutler to throw. And who knows if Alshon Jeffery will be there to battle Peterson at less than 100 percent in attempts to keep the Cards honest? Tyrann Mathieu (think a faster Mike Brown), Rashad Johnson and Jerraud Powers complicate matters in that defensive backfield. Thirteen of Drew Brees' 30 completions last week were checkdowns to his running backs. This defense only ranked 24th last season (and amazingly, 29th versus the pass despite 18 interceptions from the DBs), yet only three of the last 17 opponents have managed more than 20 points.
**Get ready for Sunday's noon kickoff when former Bears Lance Briggs, Jim Miller and Dan Jiggetts join Chris Boden for "Bears Pregame Live, brought to you by Meijer," at 11 a.m. on Comcast SportsNet. As soon as the first half ends, log on to CSNChicago.com for "Bears Halftime Live, brought to you by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois," as Jim and Chris recap the opening two quarters and go over second half adjustments. Then, as soon as the game goes final, flip to Comcast SportsNet Plus for "Bears Postgame Live, brought to you by Nissan," as Lance, Jim, Dan and Chris bring you 90 minutes of postgame press conferences, locker room interviews, reaction, and analysis**