The Chicago Bears will travel to University of Phoenix Stadium to take on the Arizona Cardinals. The Bears have lost five out of their past six games and are in a must win situation. The Cardinals have lost nine out of ten games and have been out of the playoffs for some time. The Cardinals are playing for pride and that could be dangerous for the Bears.
The Cardinals are not good enough to have an offensive game plan because they will get on the field and find out it doesn’t work in a hurry. The Cardinals need to be unpredictable. Trick plays, fake punts or whatever it takes to win. The Bears need to come out and hit the Cardinals right in the face. They can win this game on physicality alone. Lets take a look at the probable starting lineups and highlight three keys to the game for each team.
Quarterback: Cardinals: Ryan Lindley
Running back: Beanie Wells (probable)
Fullback: Anthony Sherman
Tight End: Jeff King
Wide Receivers: Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Roberts (probable)
Offensive line (from the left): Nate Potter, Daryn Colledge, Chris Wedige, Adam Snyder, Bobby Massie
Quarterback: Jay Cutler (probable)
Running back: Matt Forte
Fullback: Evan Rodriguez
Tight End: Kellen Davis (probable)
Wide Receivers: Earl Bennett (questionable), Brandon Marshall
Offensive line (from the left): J’Marcus Webb, James Brown, Roberto Garza, Gabe Carimi, Jonathan Scott
Cardinals’ Defense (Base 3-4)
Defensive Line: DE Calais Campbell (questionable), DT Dan Williams, DE Darnell Dockett
Linebackers: OLB Quentin Groves (questionable), MLB Daryl Washington, MLB Paris Lenon, OLB Sam Acho
Cardinals: CB Patrick Peterson, CB William Gay, SS Adrian Wilson, FS Kerry Rhodes (probable)
Bears’ Defense (Base 4-3)
Defensive Line: DE Corey Wootton, Henry Melton (questionable), Stephen Paea, Julius Peppers
Linebackers: WLB Lance Briggs, MLB Blake Costanzo, SLB Nick Roach
Secondary: CB Tim Jennings (questionable), CB Charles Tillman, SS Major Wright, FS Chris Conte
Arizona’s Keys to the Game
The Cardinals’ offense is worthless, but they can still be effective by not turning the football over. The skill players on the Cardinals have to hang onto the ball. It starts with Lindley and goes all the way down to the tight ends and even down to the third string center snapping him the football. If the Cardinals have more than one turnover they are going to lose the game. They need to play as close to mistake free as possible.
Second, Brandon Marshall will probably lineup over CB William Gay. Marshall is currently the Bears’ most dangerous weapon. Containing him will be a concern. Peterson is the Cardinals best defensive back, but he will be going against Bennett. I’d be curious to see if the Cardinals do a quick flip flop every once in a while just to get a more favorable matchup.
Finally, although Cutler has a tendency to get into his own head without much help from the defense. The Cardinals have to figure out a way to get more pressure on him and really make him think. Cutler has a cannon for an arm as well, so they have to keep with their receivers at all times or he will burn the Cardinals on a broken play.
Chicago’s Keys to the Game
Forte has not rushed for over one hundred yards since since early November against the Tennessee Titans. He has had a disappointing season in general, but he should see an opportunity this week against the Cardinals. The Cardinals will be focusing on Cutler and Marshall, so he might be able to slip through the cracks.
Urlacher will be out again this week, so the middle of the field will be one of the Bears weaknesses. Costanzo really does not need to step up his game, but the Cardinals will try to pick on him via the tight end and rushing right back into his face. The Bears will need to figure that balance out or the Cardinals could find some success there.
Lastly, the Bears need to stop shooting themselves in the foot. They can make more mistakes this week because they are playing the Cardinals, but if they make too many, the Cardinals will make them pay. Cutler needs to hold onto the ball and not make too many stupid decisions especially at the end of the half. Giving points back to the Cardinals, without the ability to respond, is the best way to lose the game.
The Cardinals are still one of the worst teams in football. The Bears need a win in a big way and if they do not get it this week they will probably not make the playoffs. Lets be honest, if the Bears do not win this week they do not deserve to be in the playoffs. I still give the Cardinals no chance in this one.
Prediction: The Cardinals gain less than 100 total yards. Bears 21, Cardinals 6
Follow Kase Brammer on Twitter @KBlive33