Chicago Bears: 10 Most Important Matchups against the Texans
Chicago Bears:10 Most Important Match-Ups against the Texans
When the Chicago Bears square off against the Houston Texans, we could possibly see a super bowl preview. For the Bears, this is possibly the biggest game of the season since week two Thursday night game against the Green Bay Packers.
It’s a statement, mainly because the team hasn’t gotten the same respect as the other top NFC teams; Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, and even the team behind them in the division the Green Bay Packers.
A win against the Texans would put the Bears in the conversation as a legit super bowl contender this season. On Sunday, it will be strength against strength when the Bears defense match-up against the Texans offense.
The Bears lead the league in takeaways with 28, while the Texans are the most disciplined team in the league as far as protecting the football. The Bears ranks 2nd in the league in points allowed with 15.0 per game, while the Texans rank 2nd in the league averaging 29.6 points per game.
The Bears defensive line will need to control the line of scrimmage if they want to neutralize the Texans high powered offense.
For the offense, it faces its toughest task so far this year. Specifically on the line scrimmage, where the Texans boast a deep group of pass rushers led by NFL sack leader J.J. Watt. The secondary will also be tough to throw on (rank 4th against the pass).
Here are the 10 most important Match-Ups for Sunday’s night match-up.
Gabe Carimi vs. J.J. Watt
The match-up most certainly to be highlighted throughout the game will be Carimi vs. Watt; two former teammates back in Wisconsin who battle often in practice against one another. While they were former teammates, there weren’t the best of friends according to Cbschicago.com Adam Hodge.
“Me and J.J. weren’t friends or anything, but I respect him,” Carimi said Wednesday.
The two had some fierce battles in practice, and even came blows.
“I remember one occasion during practice where I was watching the play, following it naturally along the outside edge to the right and I’d look back to my left and my two best players are entangled in a little fight on the ground,” Wisconsin Head Coach Brett Bielema said Tuesday.
This match-up is the most interesting considering there seems to be some tensions brewing at least from Carimi.
Brandon Marshall vs. Jonathan Joseph
Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has come out and said that he’s doubling Brandon Marshall on every single play. While he might have been joking, there will be some situations where he doubles Marshall, specifically in the red zone. Throughout the game, expect the Texans to line-up their pro bowl corner Jonathan Joseph against Marshall.
Joseph is probably the most physically skilled corner Marshall will face all season. He’s a crafty veteran that’s very capable of shutting down any #1 WR in this league. Next to Watt and Carimi, Marshall against Joseph is a critical match-up for the offense.
Devin Hester vs. Kareem Jackson
If the Texans manage to shutdown Marshall, someone else needs to step up from the receiver position. If there’s ever a game where the Bears need Hester it’s going to be this Sunday. Marshall against Joseph is going to be a back and forth battle, so the offense is going to need Hester to pick up the slack.
Jackson is a solid starting cornerback capable of breaking on passes, so Hester route running awareness will be tested against the athletic Jackson.
Earl Bennett vs. Brice McCray
Another receiver that needs to help Marshall out is Bennett, who has been the invisible man this year. Bennett will have the opportunity to make plays with the coverage possibly being dictated towards Marshall. McCain is a solid starting nickel back, but Bennett is the bigger more physical player.
This is a match-up he should be able to win all night. It’s time for Bennett to assert himself more in the offense and Sunday night couldn’t be a better opportunity with the spotlight on Marshall heading into this game.
Chilo Rachal vs. Antonio Smith
Rachal has had a rough past two games, but the Bears will need to depend on him a lot against the Texans second best pass rusher in Antonio Smith. Quietly, Smith is one of the league’s best five technique defensive ends.
He has an explosive first step to get to the passer, and is also stout against the run. Rachal strength has been mostly in run blocking and the Bears could possibly test off-tackle (between Smith and outside line-backer Whitney Mercilus).
Julius Peppers vs. Duane Brown
Wasn’t much thought of Duane Brown in the 2008 NFL Draft, but he has turned out to be one of the better left tackles in the league. He hasn’t had a holding penalty in his career, and that’s in a division where he faced off against the likes of Dwight Freeny, Robert Mathis, and Kyle Vanden Bosch when he played for the Tennessee Titans.
If the Bears want to create turnovers, they need to get to Matt Schaub and that starts with the ring leader Julius Peppers. If Peppers is creating havoc against Brown, it opens things up for the rest of the line, who will likely see one-on-one opportunities.
Stephen Paea vs. Wade Smith
Paea has taken his game to a whole other level this season. He’s too quick and powerful to be left alone one-one-one, and he’s even a handful when double teamed. He’s going to have to keep that momentum up against Texans left guard Wade Smith who is a crafty veteran. It’s no secret what the Texans want to do and that is run the football. Paea and the rest of the defensive line need to be disruptive at the line of scrimmage to keep their linemen off the linebackers.
Pressure up the middle against Matt Schaub could force him to make some questionable decisions with the football.
Charles Tillman vs. Andre Johnson
Another match-up that will be highlighted throughout the game is Charles Tillman against Andre Johnson. A lot of people might think this is a game where a crafty vet in Johnson could look to quiet down the Tillman mania, but Tillman could also be up for revenge against Johnson in this game.
In their 2008 meeting, Tillman had a rough outing against Johnson in a game the Bears needed to get into the playoffs. It’s likely Tillman shadows Johnson all over the field, in hopes of taking away Schaub’s primary WR.
Nick Roach and Chris Conte vs. Owen Daniels
Daniels is a dangerous weapon for the Texans at the tight end position, so Nick Roach and the safeties have their hands full. Through eight games this season, Daniels has caught 37 catches for 478 yards, and five touchdowns. He’s simply the team’s second primary target, who can hurt the Bears down the seams and in the open areas of the zone.
Nick Roach and Chris Conte will share one-on-one assignment against Daniels when the defense calls for man coverage. Both players are athletic and quick enough to keep up with Daniels all over the field. Taking away Schaub’s safety blanket should be a top priority this Sunday night.
Jay Cutler vs. Matt Schaub
Not exactly a direct head-to-head match-up, but from a bragging rights perspective amongst fans, this is a popular match-up. Whenever second tier quarterbacks are being discussed, Matt Schaub name is one of the few that seems to be mentions before Jay Cutler’s. Cutler is the more talented QB of the two, but Schaub has been the most consistent throughout their careers.
A great performance on Sunday night would put Cutler in a whole different context, and separate himself from the Schaubs, Tony Romo’s, and Matthew Stafford’s of the world.