Three-straight wins have fans throughout Pats Nation flying high right now. Especially after beating the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday night, many might believe that this week’s opponent, the Chicago Bears, should be an absolute cake walk.
However, hubris can often taint reality, and the 3-2 Monsters of the Midway certainly ain’t no slouches. (And truthfully, they should be 4-1 after blowing an 11-point fourth-quarter lead on Sunday, ultimately losing in overtime to BROCK FREAKIN’ OSWEILER and the Miami Dolphins.)
As always, here’s a quick look at where, when, and how to watch the game along with the latest lines:
- Location: Soldier Field (Chicago, IL)
- Kickoff: Sunday, Oct. 21, 1 p.m. ET
- TV: CBS
- Odds (via Odds Shark): Patriots: -3.5 (spread) / Patriots: -158 (moneyline) / 49.5 (total)
As I said, the Bears are no longer a pushover after four-straight years which saw them win no more than six games in a season – including a really rough 3-13 performance in 2016. In fact, many people, including myself, had them as one of the top sleeper teams for 2018.
Even before acquiring super human/mutant freak talent Khalil Mack from the Oakland Raiders just days before the season began, the Bears were already pretty solid on the defensive side of the ball. Though they finished with a 5-11 record last year, Chicago still had the league’s 10th-ranked defense and posted 42 sacks, which tied for seventh in the league. Adding Mack to the unit has vaulted them up to third in the league through five games in 2018 (they had a bye in Week 5), and their 18 sacks are good for fifth in the league. They’re also tied for second in the league in interceptions. So let’s just say Brady and the boys may not have as easy of a time moving the ball in the Windy City this weekend as they have the past couple of weeks.
(Side note: Mack injured his ankle early on in Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins. He finished the contest but wasn’t quite as effective as the game wore on. Per the team’s website, he’s considered day-to-day and is expected to play, but perhaps he won’t be as much of a force as he typically is.)
The Bears are very talented on offense as well, and the entire unit has been opened up this year with first-year head coach Matt Nagy, an offensive whiz who helped Andy Reid run the show in Kansas City for the past two seasons. Not only has he helped fuel quarterback Mitchell Trubisky’s development tremendously, but his scheme allows for multiple guys to be involved each week, so it’s not like Belichick can simply hone in on taking away the opponent’s top weapon like he usually does.
Allen Robinson – just three year’s removed from a 1,400-yard season in Jacksonville – leads the way for the receiving corps. Speedster Taylor Gabriel has really come on lately as well, posting two-straight 100-yard performances and proving that he’s not simply just the gadget, change-of-pace player he was before coming to Chicago this season. His 27 receptions in 2018 are just nine short of his career high, which is a mark he should easily surpass within the next couple of weeks, if not sooner.
Also, tight end Trey Burton is an athletic piece who came over from Philly this offseason. While his 15 catches at this point are perhaps a little less than some anticipated, he’s still averaging over 13 yards per grab and can hurt you if you’re not careful. Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen form a nice thunder-and-lighting combo out of the backfield as well, with the former being more of a grinder and Cohen being the electric, do-it-all wildcard who’s totaled 295 yards (!) of offense over the last two games.
(FIRE FLAMES ALERT 🔥🔥🔥: Cohen is going to go bananas in this game. Again, not only has the guy compiled almost 300 yards of offense on just 32 touches the past two games – averaging out to 9.2 yards per touch – but only four teams have given up more receiving yards to opposing running backs this season than the Pats (349). Everyone thought Howard was going to be the No. 1 guy in the offense for the Bears this year – much to the chagrin of his fantasy owners, which includes yours truly – but Cohen is looking like he might take the job from him outright.)
Back to Trubisky. After a pretty lackluster showing through 12 games as a rookie last year – a year in which he completed just 59 percent of his passes for 2,193 yards with seven scores and seven picks – he’s made quite the leap so far in 2018. Not only is he completing a very healthy 70 percent of his tosses, but his 11-to-4 TD-to-INT ratio is also pretty solid. He also threw SIX touchdowns in Week 4 against Tampa Bay. (To be fair, I think I could probably get at least one or two against the Bucs this season, as their defense is simply atrocious. But what Trubisky did is still impressive nonetheless.) And he’s averaged over 32 yards a game on the ground this season, with 100 rushing yards over the past two games alone, so he can get it done with his legs as well.
This team is extremely balanced, and they’ve got enough on both sides of the ball to keep up with the Pats in this one.
(Continue to Keep Brady Clean): The Pats have done a very nice job of protecting Brady so far this year, surrendering just eight sacks in total so far. Considering they’ve faced the likes of Houston, Jacksonville, and Indianapolis – all teams with 15-plus sacks already – that is extremely impressive. Add in the fact that Tommy Boy is no spring chicken and may not be quite as nimble as he once was, and it’s definitely a stat the O-lineman can hang their hats on. As mentioned above, the Bears are tied for fifth in the league with 18 QB takedowns this year, and Mack is an absolute demon to be reckoned with (although his ankle could slow him down a bit this week). Trent Brown and the rest of the boys up front should have their hands full again in this one.
(Michel and White to Face First Real Test): The Bears are the first top-10 run defense that Pats rookie Sony Michel will face this year, as he didn’t play in the team’s season-opener against the Texans, and they’ll be just the second for James White. Michel’s tough running style should allow him to at least grind out the clock if the Pats have the lead and maybe get a goal line score, but don’t expect much from White on Sunday. Not only do I expect White’s ball-carrying opportunities to be scaled back this week, but the Bears also only allow 25.6 receiving yards out of the backfield per game. The Bears also haven’t allowed even one rushing touchdown so far this season. Brady’s going to need to get it done through the air this week.
Both teams get off to a slow start, with each of them only scoring around 10 points by halftime. Due to the physical, old-school nature of the game, the defense wears down a bit on each side in the second half. This will allow for a couple nice drives from the Pats and one or two big plays from the Bears (see: Gabriel, Taylor and Cohen, Tarik) later in the game. In the end, this one will be close, with the Pats eeking out a 24-20 victory.