The Chicago Bears (1-4) travel to the East Coast this weekend to face the Baltimore Ravens (3-2) at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens are 1-1 at home while the Bears are 0-2 on the road. As of Thursday morning’s Chicago Tribune, Baltimore is favored by 6 points.
Mitch Trubisky will make his road debut at a place in which Baltimore has historically played exceptionally well. Last year they went 6-2 at home but finished only 8-8 overall. This year they won 24-10 over Cleveland but lost 26-9 to Pittsburgh. For what it’s worth, Chicago beat Pittsburgh in Soldier Field.
Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh is one of the best in the business. He’s coached in Baltimore for 9 years, making the playoffs 6 times. He advanced to 3 AFC Championships and won the Super Bowl in the 2012 season. However, fans do get restless and Harbaugh has failed to make the AFC Playoffs 3 of the last 4 years. Since winning Super Bowl 47, the Ravens are actually under .500, going 31-33 prior to this year.
Bears offense vs Ravens defense
The Ravens defense is 16th in total defense, 9th in pass defense, 23rd in rush defense, and 10th in scoring defense.
The Bears offense is 27th in total offense, 28th in pass offense, 12th in rush offense, and 30th in scoring offense.
However, notice that the Ravens weakness is rushing defense and the Bears strength is rushing offense. That could be key. Plus, with new starting QB #10 Mitch Trubisky leading the way, the Bears will adjust to a new offense. The stats accumulated by Mike Glennon and company against a really hard opening schedule may mean little in this matchup. Nonetheless, EDGE: RAVENS
Bears defense vs Ravens offense
QB Joe Flacco is struggling. He’s thrown 4 TD and 6 INT. His rating is 71.0. As for the running game, starting RB Terrance West is injured so Javorius “Buck” Allen steps in along with Alex Collins. Last week at Oakland, Allen rushed 21 times for 73 yards and 1 TD. Collins is really good, leading the NFL with a 7.1 ypc. However, Harbaugh doesn’t seem to trust him because of his fumbling issues. That’s why he only had 12 carries for 55 yards last week while Allen received most of the carries in the 2nd half of their win at Oakland. At WR, they have Mike Wallace and Jeremy Maclin.
Flacco isn’t the most mobile QB around, especially with his recent back pain. Chicago has an underrated pass rush. Watch for multiple sacks once again this week from OLB #94 Leonard Floyd, DE #96 Akiem Hicks, and OLB #92 Pernell McPhee (see “Watch Out For…..”). The Bears D keeps improving. ILB #59 Danny Trevathan returns from his one game suspension. S #39 Eddie Jackson gets better every week. I like this Bears D vs the Ravens Offense. EDGE: BEARS
Ravens kicker Justin Tucker is THE premier placekicker in the world. He has been consistently excellent for years. He is not only accurate, but he has a huge leg, nailing 38 of 39 FG’s last season, including an unbelievable 10 of 10 from beyond 50 yards! “Football Outsiders Almanac 2017” ran the numbers and proved that Justin Tucker had the greatest season by a kicker in the last 30 years, adding 25.5 points over an average kicker for the 2016 season. Baltimore’s punter Sam Koch is also a top 10 punter with a 45.8 gross punting avg last year. EDGE: RAVENS
Watch Out For………
#92 OLB Pernell McPhee – You may not remember but McPhee was once a star pass rusher for Baltimore. Pernell was drafted by the Ravens in the 5th round of the 2011 Draft and became a key contributor in his four seasons, including their Super Bowl 47 Championship team of 2012. He made the AFC Playoffs in 3 of his 4 seasons with Baltimore. However, McPhee wasn’t extremely happy in Baltimore because he was never really a starter. The Ravens didn’t respect him enough to make him a starter and pay him starter money. That’s when GM Ryan Pace stepped in and made McPhee his first big free agent signing on March 10, 2015. Pace was lucky to get McPhee. However, in typical Bears fashion, his luck has run out with injuries. Lately McPhee is getting healthier. Last week he played 45 snaps against Minnesota. You don’t have to major in Psychology to understand that McPhee will be extra motivated to prove himself on Sunday in Baltimore in front of his old Ravens coaches, teammates, and fans. Look for a supremely motivated McPhee to have a great game on Sunday. I’m calling for at least one sack and an overall fantastic game vs his old mates.
Not only are the Bears dealing with a ton of injuries with 9 guys including 6 starters already on IR, but the Ravens are hampered as well. Flacco is playing through back pain. We already mentioned Terrance West is doubtful with a calf, WR Maclin is questionable, LB Tim Williams is questionable, DB Jimmy Smith is questionable. Overall, the Ravens reported 6 players did not practice while 4 players were limited in their most recent practice.
For some reason, I’m higher on this Bears team than most media members and other Bears fans. I don’t know why exactly. Maybe I’m just a positive person. Maybe I’m biased and want to see them succeed. However, I still believe in GM Ryan Pace, HC John Fox, DC Vic Fangio, and the effort of the players. I think Chicago will turn the corner soon, IF they can just avoid the injury bug.
The schedule gets easier from here. Remember, it IS a 4th place schedule. Of the eleven remaining games, six are against teams with losing records in ’16 (San Francisco, New Orleans, Carolina, Philadelphia, Cleveland, and Cincinnati). Two more are against 8-8 teams (Baltimore and Minnesota). Only three games remain against teams with winning records (Green Bay, Detroit twice). Trust me, it WILL get better. 1-4 could turn into 7-9 or even 8-8 very fast. I’m picking an upset this week. Expect a defensive slugfest.
Chicago Bears 14 Baltimore Ravens 13