The Chicago Bears are 7-1. The Houston Texans are 7-1. They will meet Sunday night in Chicago. On paper this is the best matchup of the 2012 season. If it were between a New York team and someone else, the game would be acknowledged as such.
The Bears suffered their only loss in week two against the Green Bay Packers. Chicago had to play in Green Bay on a short week as the game was on a Thursday night. The Bears lost 23-10. Since then, they have won six straight.
The Texans also lost to Green Bay in week six, 42-24. After that defeat, Houston bounced back to hammer the Baltimore Ravens 43-13.
The reason why Chicago and Houston are 7-1 is simple. Defense. They have played it as well or better than anyone in the NFL. Chicago ranks second in the league in points allowed at 15 per game. They have a takeaway/giveaway differential of +16. Houston ranks fourth at 17.1 points allowed per game. Their takeaway/giveaway differential is +8.
The Bears do not only take the ball away they score with it. Chicago has seven defensive touchdowns this season. Defensive back Charles Tillman had two in Sunday’s 51-20 victory over the Tennessee Titans. Linebacker Brian Urlacher also returned an interception for six.
Houston makes the most of their turnovers also. They have scored three touchdowns on interceptions.
The Bears and Texans boast two of the best defensive lines in football. Chicago has an All-Pro defensive end in Julius Peppers. Houston has one in J.J. Watt. Watt plays inside at tackle from time to time. The Bears also boast tackle Henry Melton while the Texans counter with end Antonio Smith.
The Bears have Urlacher and Lance Briggs at linebacker. Houston’s best linebacker Brian Cushing was injured in week five and will miss the rest of the season. They still have a couple of good ones in Bradie James and Brooks Reed.
The secondaries boast Tillman and Tim Jennings for the Bears. The Texans counter with Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph. Joseph is nursing a groin injury.
The Bears and Texans have played so well defensively that no one is talking much about their quarterbacks Chicago’s Jay Cutler has always been a lightening rod for criticism, but has been spared this season. Houston’s Matt Schaub is one of the rare quarterbacks who always seem to be overshadowed by his team. This year is no different.
Both quarterbacks will be in the spotlight Sunday. They will be playing against opponents who, if given the chance, can embarrass them. The Bears and Texans like being bullies and will try to outdo one another in Chicago. This should make for a tough, physical matchup.
If you like defense then Sunday’s Chicago-Houston game is one to watch. Even if you don’t, it will be worth it to watch two 7-1 teams battle it out.
ESPN doesn’t need to hype this game, because Bears-Texans can stand on its own.