After an abysmal letdown in Week One of the NFL’s 100th season, the Chicago Bears have a chance to right the ship on Sunday in Denver, against the 0-1 Broncos, led by none other than Chicago’s former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.
The game will be played in Mile High Stadium, and not many teams around the league know Matt Nagy’s offense better than the Broncos do, thanks to Fangio and players like former Bears cornerback Bryce Callahan.
Needless to say, if Chicago’s offense comes out flat against the likes of Von Miller, Bradley Chubb and Chris Harris, the Bears will be staring down 0-2 heading into a Monday Night Football appearance in Week 3.
But after one game, the Broncos didn’t look like world-beaters either, falling to Jon Gruden’s Oakland Raiders, 24-16, so there are plenty of weaknesses on that side as well.
Numbers Never Lie
Denver’s offense put up 16 points in their Week 1 loss to the Raiders, but even that final tally is a little generous compared to how the game actually looked.
The Broncos did not score a point in the first half and did not even score a touchdown until there was just 2:15 left in the game. Chicago possesses the league’s best defense from 2018, and as the Broncos struggled mightily against the Raiders’ defense, the Bears should be able to replicate that difficulty on the defensive side of the ball, especially with the team’s ability to create turnovers.
However, another game with Joe Flacco building chemistry with his receivers, plus home-field advantage should certainly help the home team in what is sure to be a defensive battle.
Joe Flacco put up a respectable line against the Raiders: 21-of-31 for 268 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions.
But when you look a little deeper, it was not too impressive.
Flacco averaged just 6.3 yards per attempt through three and a half quarters and finished with a 38.5 quarterback rating. By comparison, Derek Carr had less passing yards, and one touchdown, but finished with a 94.1 quarterback rating.
If the Bears can force Flacco into the continued dump-offs and not allow him to go to deep, that is another major win for the depth and speed of the Bears’ defense.
On the offensive side of the ball, one of the best young receivers in the league is Courtland Sutton, the second-year wideout out of SMU. Sutton was one of the biggest stars in the final game of Week 1, finishing with seven receptions and a team-high 120 yards.
Likely to draw Kyle Fuller of the Bears, Sutton is a major key to Denver’s offense, and a player Chicago will have to key on in order to be successful.
On defense, the obvious standout player for the Broncos is an all-world pass rusher, Von Miller. Miller is a seven-time Pro Bowler and seven-time All-Pro, who has shown no real signs of slowing down after getting a major extension two seasons ago and putting up 14.5 sacks in 2018.
Miller is teamed up with Bradley Chubb and Josey Jewell at linebacker, to help make up one of the league’s most formidable linebacking units.
One player that the Bears will not have to deal with is Denver’s newly-signed right tackle Ja’Wuan James, who suffered a knee injury and is not likely to be active in this one.
The Chicago Bears’ offensive line against the Broncos’ pass rush.
The Raiders did not allow a single sack to the likes of Miller, Chubb and company, and Carr had one of the most efficient games of his career.
If the Bears’ offensive line can replicate that after an awful showing against Green Bay, I like the Bears’ chances to get Mitchell Trubisky time and to get Chicago’s playmakers the ball on the perimeter, something the Bears failed to do against the Packers.
If Chicago does not win this matchup, it is hard to see them coming out of Mile High with their first win of the highly anticipated 2019 season.