Bears travel to Indy to tame the Colts

The Chicago Bears (1-3) travel to Indianapolis this Sunday to take on the Colts (1-3) at Lucas Oil Stadium. Surprisingly the Colts are under .500 once again after a disappointing 2015. It seems like a long time ago that people were predicting the Colts to go to last year’s Super Bowl 50. Then they started 0-2 and never recovered, finishing 8-8. This year has gotten off to a similar start, once again opening up 0-2 with losses to Detroit and Denver before beating San Diego in Week 3. Last week, the Colts traveled to London to play the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags pulled off an upset victory, leaving Indianapolis fans crying in their beer, or coffee. The game started at 8:30 am Central time, leaving the Colts as Week 4 losers before anybody else even kicked off.

As for the Bears, they got a win for the first time this season and at home in Soldier Field for the first time in a year. They broke their 6 game home losing streak to the relief of Monsters fans.

I’m a firm believer in the axiom “You’re never as good as you think and never as bad as you think”. After Chicago started 0-3, I was hoping that axiom applied to the Bears this year because in a league of parity, aren’t they better than what they showed those first three weeks? They were, as they played a solid Week 4 game that would have looked a lot better if the Lions had not returned that punt 85 yards for a touchdown with 2 minutes left, cutting the score from 17-6 to 17-14 after the 2 point conversion. It didn’t really matter once the Bears recovered the onside kick.

So now where do the Bears and the Colts go from here? That’s what makes this a big game. If anyone is going to climb out of their last place deficit, getting a win here is key. The Bears are already 3 games out of 1st place behind the dominating Vikings (4-0). The Colts are just 2 games out of 1st place, tied with both the Jaguars and Titans, behind the Texans (3-1).

The Bears are likely to get pressure on Colts QB Andrew Luck as he’s been sacked 15 times already in the first 4 games. That’s an average of almost 4 sacks per game. It will be fun to see #94 Leonard Floyd, #97 Willie Young, #49 Sam Acho, #96 Akiem Hicks, and company rush the passer this week. Count on at least a couple of sacks.

As for the Bears offense, the question is at QB as usual. Will #2 Brian Hoyer duplicate last week’s surprising performance? Or will #6 Jay Cutler be back from a thumb injury? Cutler did not practice on Wednesday so it looks like he’s out again. I’ve gotta believe an injury to the thumb on your throwing hand would be a tough one to overcome. Can he grip the ball properly? Does it allow him to throw a spiral? Don’t forget Cutler has injured this thumb before. In fact, Cutler broke his thumb at what was probably the high point of his career in 2011 after leading the Bears to a 7-3 start. Remember that injury? The Bears were in the midst of winning their 5th game in a row when Cutler threw an interception when the Bears WR stopped on his route, letting the Chargers defender pick off the pass. Adding insult to injury (or maybe injury to insult), Cutler broke his thumb when he tackled the interceptor, thus ending his season and the Bears playoff hopes. The Bears lost 5 in a row without Cutler and finished 8-8. That was a hard season to get over because it looked like the Bears had all the momentum, looking to advance further than they had the year before when they lost the 2010 NFC Championship game. The more I reminisce, that was the moment when Cutler’s career went downhill. The Bears, and Lovie Smith, never recovered. When the coach and QB get blamed, then it all crashes down as the organization got caught up in firing GM’s and coaches and thus hiring different GM’s and coaches, coaches who brought in different schemes. Cutler outlasted all of those GM’s and Head Coaches and Offensive Coordinators, but at what cost? He’s had 6 OC’s in his 8 years as Bears QB and with the revolving door in management, they have essentially ruined his career. It’s a shame really. And now it’s probably over for Cutler, at least after this season.

That’s a discussion for another day. Today we’ll tackle this week’s game.

jay-cutler2

Keep an Eye On: 

#81 Cameron Meredith – The big news this week was #13 Kevin White broke his left fibula and sprained his left ankle, which may end his season. It’s a tough break for White who was really beginning to show off his skills. His confidence seemed to be climbing each and every game and he was becoming a focal point of the offense, garnering more targeted passes (35) than anyone else including #17 Alshon Jeffery (25) and #19 Eddie Royal (22). So now Meredith must step up and fill White’s shoes. Last week Meredith did just that, grabbing 4 passes for 28 yards after White’s injury. Can the 6’3″ 207 pound 2nd year receiver from Illinois St. be a dependable target for Hoyer?

Cameron Meredith Bears.jpg

 

Stats Thru 25% of the season (4 games), better stat in bold:

Colts Defense: 24th Total Defense (382.8 yards per game), 18th Rush Defense (105.8), 24th Pass Defense (277.0), 30th Points Allowed (31.3)

vs Bears Offense: 24th Total Offense (335.0), 26th Rush Offense (82.3), 15th Pass Offense (252.8), 31st Points Scored (15.5)

Bears Defense: 10th Total Defense (333.5), 26th Rush Defense (123.5), 8th Pass Defense (210.0), 19th Points Allowed (24.3)

vs Colts Offense: 17th Total Offense (349.3), 24th Rush Offense (88.0), 13th Pass Offense (261.3), 7th Points Scored (27.0)

In a nutshell of 4 games, these stats lead us to believe the Colts have the better offense and the Bears have the better defense. It’s hard to argue with that. Now that the Bears are gaining continuity with their Quarterback, Offensive Line play, and Running Back spots, their offense is improving. Despite last week’s performance by Hoyer against Detroit, don’t forget they only scored 17 points though. The Colts are 24th in Total Defense and 30th in Points Allowed so I think Chicago can move the ball and score. The Colts can’t stop anyone, including Jacksonville, so I will predict the Bears win a close one at Lucas Oil Stadium.

 

Bears 21 Colts 20

Bears record: 1-3

My prediction record: 2-2

I incorrectly picked the Bears to win their first two games at Houston (3-1) and at home vs Philadelphia (3-0). The Bears had a rough start vs some really good teams. In fact, their first 3 opponents are in 1st or 2nd Place. Then I correctly nailed the Cowboys (3-1) beating the Bears and Chicago getting on the board over Detroit (1-3). Let’s hope I’m right for the 3rd week in a row.

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