The Chicago Bears set out this weekend to do something they’ve only done once this season when they take on the Arizona Cardinals, and that’s win two games in a row.
The last time the Bears had a winning streak came in early October, which was also started after a victory over the Lions. But they face a Cardinals team that’s rested and healing up.
The 9-2 Cardinals are coming off a bye week and will presumably get quarterback Kyler Murray and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins back from injury. The Bears, meanwhile, will be without Justin Fields for another game, meaning Andy Dalton gets the start once again.
With the Cardinals vying for homefield advantage in the postseason race, this could be a game that gets ugly early. But I’m predicting a close one on the lakefront for a number of reasons. Here are my bold predictions for Sunday’s matchup.
David Montgomery finds the endzone for the first time in a long time
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
The Bears don’t have their starting quarterback, their WR1 and WR3, and are facing a defense that isn’t special against the run. In other words, how can they not feed David Montgomery the ball?
It’s been a rough return for Montgomery since he came back to the lineup following his injury. He’s been bottled up in three games and hasn’t sniffed a touchdown. It’s even more puzzling considering how vital he was to the offense’s success early in the season.
The Cardinals have one of the top passing defenses in the league, meaning the Bears would be wise to commit to the running game. I’m taking a leap of faith and saying they will get No. 32 back into the endzone.
Rodney Adams gets his first regular season catch
AP Photo/John Amis
Like I said earlier, the Bears are likely going to be down two of their top three wideouts for Sunday’s game. Allen Robinson is doubtful due to his nagging hamstring injury and Marquise Goodwin was ruled out due to a foot injury.
Right now, the Bears only have three healthy wideouts and one of them, Jakeem Grant, is primarily a return specialist. It feels like a foregone conclusion that preseason darling Rodney Adams gets the call up from the practice squad and is active for the game. The Bears will likely already be making a few roster moves with the reported return of rookie tackle Teven Jenkins, so it makes sense to bring Adams as well to reinforce the receiver room this week. But he’ll do more than just play.
I see Adams getting a few reps on passing downs, especially if Matt Nagy continues to have Dalton drop back nearly 40 times. The star of the preseason finally gets his first catch this weekend in the regular season, giving this game a special moment for a guy who captured the hearts of Bears fans everywhere in August.
Chandler Jones gets two sacks against the Bears
Michael Chow-USA TODAY Sports
The Bears have faced quite a few elite pass rushers this season and they have feasted on the team’s starting tackles. Whether it’s Myles Garrett, Trey Hendrickson, Jason Pierre-Paul, T.J. Watt, or Nick Bosa, multiple pass rushers have been able to take down Bears quarterbacks more than once. Now, they face another dangerous threat in Chandler Jones.
Jones got off to the hottest of hot starts this season when he totaled five sacks in week one against the Tennessee Titans. He’s cooled off for much of the season but is ramping back up in recent weeks, racking up three sacks in his last three games, making this a prime opportunity to wreak havoc in the Bears backfield.
It’s no secret the Bears offensive line has struggled to keep their quarterback upright. Dalton does have a quick release but Jones might have another big day. The Bears just can’t stop the best of the best.
Robert Quinn continues his dominating play
AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps
Speaking of elite pass rushers, Robert Quinn is currently third in the entire league with 11 sacks on the season. He’s had a November to remember, totaling 5.5 sacks alone while playing without Khalil Mack opposite of him on the defensive line. Is it really even a bold prediction anymore to say he’s going to get yet another sack?
The last time Quinn didn’t get a sack was Halloween against the San Francisco 49ers. Since then, he’s been nearly unstoppable and now goes against a Cardinals team that, while in the middle of the pack when it comes to allowing sacks and pressures, could be susceptible to sacks with Murray still somewhat hobbled.
The electrifying quarterback is known for his ability to move around the pocket, but he’s coming back from an ankle injury that’s kept him out for the last few weeks. It’s another good opportunity for Quinn to keep up his elite play.
Jaylon Johnson nabs an interception against DeAndre Hopkins
AP Photo/Rick Osentoski
Quinn isn’t the only standout defensive player that’s going to find himself making a big play on Sunday. Jaylon Johnson has been rock solid the last couple of weeks and is relishing the opportunity to shadow Hopkins, assuming he’s good to go. While it’s not confirmed that Johnson will be shadowing Hopkins, I’d say it’s a good bet that’s in the defensive gameplan.
Johnson has struggled at times when shadowing top wideouts, but he’s lining up against a less-than 100% version of Hopkins. He’s missed the last few games with a hamstring injury and still isn’t a lock to play. If Hopkins does suit up, he won’t be the same caliber player if he were healthy. What’s more, Murray might need to shake off some rust as well. He hasn’t played in over a month either and his last game saw him throw two picks in a loss to the Green Bay Packers.
Look for Johnson to find an opening or two and get his second interception of the season.